From the Pastors

In the midst of Winter, what is new in the ministry?

Thinking about how to form a vision for ministry in 2017, I came across the opportunity to apply for a Lilly Endowment Grant.  The Councils recommend that we pursue the application, and bring it for approval of the congregations by the end of February.

  • What is the Lilly Grant? Lilly makes grants up to $50,000 each for clergy renewal (3 month study sabbatical) with a congregational program impacting the community.
  • We propose that the Renewal period would be June to August 2018. Pastor Winters plans to study the topic:  “Building Seniors’ Ministry of Adults 50 and over”.  The Renewal Task Force – leaders from the three congregations – will help with the proposal, and work on the program together during the pastor’s absence.
  • There would be complete Pastoral coverage for the congregations with a supply pastor paid by the grant monies.
  • At the conclusion of the program, we will have church events and activities, and plan to do outreach to Boomers, Seniors, and their children and grandchildren in the Warren area.
  • Pastor Winters’ article in the newsletter lays out the seven facets of Boomer and Senior Ministry that will be explored (see *S.E.N.I.O.R.S. article).
  • A complete brochure to answer your questions will be circulated at church later this month.

Your “Boomer” Pastor,
Ann Marie Winters

Why Focus on Boomers and Seniors Ministry?
Doesn’t the future of the church depend on reaching young people?

Of course, an intergenerational church has all ages who grow and mature in the church.  We will continue to minister to children and youths.  And to add younger generations to our “graying” congregations, we need to reach Baby Boomers – they also have children and grandchildren.  There are about 75 million baby boomers in our country, entering retirement – born between 1946 and 1964.  They are eager for spiritual growth; only 28% say they are “Spiritual but Not Religious”.   Boomers can be reached by a variety of events and activities offered by the church.

Why distinguish between Boomers and Seniors?
Retirement years can be extended.  So Boomers and older Seniors have different experiences and different needs.  Pre-retirement looks very different than early, middle, or late retirement years.  A book by Amy Hanson hits the nail on the head:  She wrote:  “Baby Boomers and Beyond:  Tapping the Ministry Talents and Passions of Adults over 50”.

What can the church offer to its members who are Adults Over Fifty?
Activities and events that focus on grandparenting…caregiving for elders and grandchildren…mentoring youth…adult children who return home…reading books and articles…workshops…game nights…concerts…trips…opportunities to serve others…health information…good nutrition…spiritual awakening!


Are you interested in a workshop or bible study?
What is Leaving a Legacy of Faith, Hope, and Love?

It is telling a story of your spiritual life (through words, pictures, news clippings, whatever); you could call it a spiritual notebook/scrapbook.   What is “faith” in the bible?  How does it apply to your life?  How has God worked in your life?  What does hope mean to you?  What is hope in the Bible?  Who is God placing in your life that he wants you to leave a legacy of hope?  What is the source of Love?  What definition of love would you like to offer?  Leave a legacy of your thoughts and values for your loved ones.

Please feel free to offer your comments and ask questions of Pastor Winters.

Pastor’s Annual Message – 2016
Psalm 71:17:  “O God, from my youth thou hast taught me, and I still proclaim thy wondrous deeds.  So even to old age and gray hairs, O God do not forsake me, till I proclaim thy might to all the generations to come.”

As we mark the completion of another year of ministry, I hold out this vision for 2017:  For a while, we have been noticing the graying of our congregations, and it is certainly time that we make intentional plans for enriching S.E.N.I.O.R.S.* ministry (the acronym is borrowed from Ken Holdorf).  We may enhance at least seven different forms of ministry by and for seniors:

S = SPIRITUAL:  The attainment of old age is a blessing from God, and one is never too old to experience a “new start” in life, or a spiritual awakening.  Also, one can maintain inner strength to meet life’s changes and challenges through a strong spirit.

E = ENLIGHTENING THE MIND:  Our minds are a tremendous creation of God which provide blessings to ourselves and others.  Ministry to and by senior adults must provide a variety of activities that provide continual enlightenment of the mind.

N = NUTRITION AND HEALTH:  As one maintains good health and habits, there is an opportunity to serve the Lord with longer life and strength.  However, even when the aging process brings on declining health, there is still the witness of continued faith in Jesus, even in difficult times.

I = INTERGENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS:  God does not separate seniors from the rest of the Body of Christ.  Does the congregation have a ministry to equip seniors in their grandparenting role?  Can we mentor younger people?

O = OUTREACH:  The purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus.  That includes Christians of all ages.  Seniors have unique opportunities to reach other seniors, day-to-day contacts in the community, neighbors, retirees, etc.

R = RECREATION AND FELLOWSHIP:  Activities enhance the well-being of all age groups.  Regular social activity and interaction is vital.  There are a great variety of ways for seniors to be engaged:  trips, game nights, community events, hobbies, health and fitness, movies, etc.

S = SERVICE:  Jesus carried out the role of a servant as he came to earth to serve and not be served.  Ways that seniors serve may change, but it is a lifelong process.  Service takes place within the Body of Christ, as well as among unbelievers and the un-churched.

Traveling the Journey with You,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters

FROM PASTOR WILLIAM D. LEITCHAs I promised, I have been sifting through Tim Downs’ book, “Finding Common Ground”, and I want to share his insights into evangelism in our time.

First, let me review two evangelism sessions we had at Living Lord in 2011.  The first classes were six sessions called “Taking Your Faith Public”.  Those sessions taught us how to get permission to speak of our faith without putting up emotional barriers.  It taught us a model of evangelism that focuses on building trusting and respectful relationships in order to keep the dialogue open and to get “permission to speak”.  Perhaps you have had the experience of an evangelism model that was aggressive, in your face, and down your throats.  If you have, you know what I mean about putting up emotional barriers.  You can sense your own hands coming up as to push the intruder away from you.

After six sessions, we learned how to build trusting relationships and to “get permission to speak”.  However, we then needed to share our “testimony”, or our experience with God.  The problem was no one was prepared to give their testimony.  We all have a story to tell, but most folks don’t share that story and are not prepared to present it.  Oh, by the way, your story should be no longer than 10 seconds.  You might have a series of 10 second testimonies, but let the other digest just one at a time and to respond.

The second course was called “Talking Faith”.  Over a meal, we waded into a conversation about God and Jesus.  The first questions we discussed were shallow, but we only stayed there for 5 minutes, then went deeper.  For example, what kind of car would Jesus drive today?  The responses were fun and funny, but all were informed by our knowledge of Scripture.  As we went deeper, everyone was sharing their “testimony”.  We were practicing in a safe place.

We also learned to be careful with our reactions to some of the testimonies.  As folks who worship and serve together, we were quite comfortable in critiquing or criticizing the other’s story.  We could do that with humor in our setting, but it would have thrown up some barriers with someone who did not believe as we did.

Finally, “Finding Common Ground” opens up a whole new vision of the world we have not shared the Gospel with.  This book gives us a vision of how to “plant” rather than how to “harvest”.  We are all harvesters.  Our whole lives we have managed and planned our worship, youth programs, and Christian Education programs.  We are prepared to bring in the harvest and to care for that harvest in a secure way to preserve it.  However, we have not planted and now the harvest is not plentiful.

We need to learn how to plant or to sow.  We need to prepare the soil.  We need to recognize whether or not we have good soil.  We need to learn how to plant and when to plant.  We do not plant in the winter, normally.  So, we need to understand the seasons of growth, preparation, and planting in this Gospel planting mission that we have been given.

We need to be patient.  As harvesters, we want to yank folks out of their soil before it is time.  If we harvest prematurely, the harvest will just wilt.  Have you ever planted radishes?  As soon as they get their big bushy leaves, I yank a handful out of the ground – just to find a dozen or so bee-bee sized radishes.  AND they don’t transplant so well.  We need to know when to harvest.

We have a lot to learn.  We are harvesters and we need to learn to be sowers.  We need to get trained up and we need to learn patience.  Dear Lord, give me some of that NOW.

Stayed tuned.  More to come.
Pastor Bill