The Dynamics of Soulwinning

This is the second workshop from General Conference that I’m going to highlight. I’m not presenting them in the order that we attended them necessarily… pretty much just a random order. My eyes landed on the notes for this one… and it’s a good one!

Rev. Eli Lopez

UPCIGC14 welcome

The first thing you need to know about this particular session is that it was pretty much  standing room only!  We met someone we knew outside the room and when we asked them if they were just arriving or leaving, they answered that they were just arriving and wanted to enter, but that people were lining the walls. We walked in anyway and a family with a couple of small children got them to move so that Liz & I could have a seat. YES… First victory!  (although, you’ll note that I was unable to get a decent photo of the speaker… we were further back than my iPhone could handle)

The second thing that you need to know is who the facilitator was… Bro. Eli Lopez, Director of Ministries and Senior Associate Pastor at Stockton California’s Christian Life Center. He’s got an impressive C.V. and has a great deal of responsibility in this incredible church for such a young man. Definitely Kudos!

Now for some of the highlights:

3 Battles of a Soulwinner

  1. Complacency: It takes effort to overcome complacency, for it is much easier to do what we’ve always done rather than trying something new.  …to stay with those we know rather than get to know someone new.  Yet the gospel is not just for us:  Jesus is the propitiation for our sinsand not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”  1 John 2.2
  2. Selfishness: Things will really begin to change and growth will be visible when we get to the point of thinking about others more than we think about ourselves.  It’s not about our comfort, but about their eternal life…
  3. Weariness: Remember… “We will reap, if we faint not!”  Galatians 6.9

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3 Things to overcome those Battles

  1. The Power of Purpose: Truly understanding our purpose will help us overcome complacency, selfishness and weariness… “The motivation that took Jesus to the cross will take us to the lost.”  Jesus didn’t consider the harvest a future event, but rather a present and a pressing need!
  2. The Power of Prayer: Matthew 9.35 relates a prayer request that Jesus made to his disciples: “Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest sends our workers into the harvest.”  If Jesus’ identity, as the Lord of the Harvest, was wrapped up in the harvest, then shouldn’t we, as his followers be likewise?  As they began to pray about the harvest, they began to take on responsibility for it… after that, Jesus sent them out into the same harvest that they’d been praying for!  Who better to go but them that have taken on responsibility in prayer?
  3. The Power of the Personal: Statistics vary in different parts of the country, but there’s no disputing that a significant factor in people coming to church remains that of personal contact. We can be active (going toward them) or passive (waiting for them to come to us)… intuitively we all know which one is better.  We are commanded to “GO and make disciples…” Give them a compelling reason why they should want to come to church!

“Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you…
and ye shall be witnesses unto me…”

Acts 1.8

Thank you Bro. Lopez!  Really a great seminar!

Upcoming Posts…

  • Saturday – An info-graph showing the growth our relationship with, and the call to, western France.
  • Next Wednesday – Highlights from General Conference Workshop #3

Prayer

  1. Pray that God helps us, through his power, to grow as soulwinners while in France.
  2. We’ve begun the process of applying for our visa from France… (Passport renewal done this week) and we’ll have to visit the French Consulate in Montreal in the coming weeks. Pray that each step in the process goes smoothly and that we find favour among men & women.

 

Here’s to #Revival_inFrance

PEI… the real deal!

 We hadn’t been to PEI since, perhaps, 2006… and our kids had never been there, so when the opportunity arose to present our burden for France and explain our AIM term to churches there, we were looking forward to going.

West Coast

photoWe began our time there with two quiet days on the Island’s west coast, near Tignish. Our “home away from home” was within sight of the wind turbines at North Cape (seen at right… early morning and late afternoon).  The car was parked late Thursday night upon arrival and didn’t move until early Sunday morning when it came time for church.

In the interim, we enjoyed nearly deserted beaches (most vacationers head to the Cavendish area), kayaks, sand and roasting hot dogs & marshmellows.

Quiet.

It is here that the current PEI Tourism slogan “The Gentle Island” makes perfect sense.

Charlottetown

photoOn Sunday morning, our day began quite early. Service with Pastor & Mrs. Donald & Dana Hood would not begin until 11:00am, however, given the near two-hour drive to get there and our desire to spend a bit of time together… we left our cabin at 7:00am.

Our schedule for the day would require us to leave Charlottetown immediately following the morning service so we opted for breakfast together rather than dinner. I wanted to glean from Bro. Hood’s experience as pastor of a growing church. Nearly all of my personal experience is with established churches, but when we get to France, we will be in another setting and I’ll need to be able to draw on more experience than just my own.

I’ve admired the Hoods, from a distance, for some time. I greatly appreciate his quiet and prayerful spirit. Together, they are doing a great work in the provincial capital.

Thank you, Bro. & Sis. Hood, for having us! We loved being with you!

Alberton

photoFrom Charlottetown, we drove 45-min back to Summerside where we would have service that evening with Pastor & Mrs Troy & Jenette Wickett. Liz & the kids would stay here for the afternoon while Pastor Troy Wickett and myself headed up to Alberton (nearly all the way back to where we stayed for the first two days) for an afternoon service there – Bro. Wickett oversees both churches.

It was a treat for me to get to visit this church as I’d heard much about it from Pastor & Mrs. Gordon (Gordie) Lewis who, after pastoring there for some 30 years, retired in Saint John and attended our church. It was neat to see where they’d invested so much of their life and ministry.

We had a wonderful service and we felt the presence of God in a very real way. There were not a lot of young people there that particular day, but I was struck by the fact that they were all at the altar and were all very engaged there. Great to see!

Back to Summerside

photoI had left my car in Summerside and Pastor Wickett & I traveled to Alberton together. I was glad for the chance to connect with him and, again, glean from his experience. During the 45-min drive back to Summerside I asked him about some of the things that had proven to be important in growing a church in his experience.

(perhaps one of these days I’ll do a post on some of these “gleanings”… but for now I’m still mulling them over myself)

By the time we arrived back in Summerside, pre-service prayer had already begun and we had about 20-min before service time. I honestly felt unsure about which way to go with my message that night, but during one of the songs, “I’ve got a testimony”, it became clear, and so I simply shared on how, with patience and perseverence we can find our purpose and possess the promise of God (that’s a lot of “P’s” I know). In short…

It is only as I look back over my life that certain things make sense and I can see a great deal more of the big picture than I could as I was going through them. God had me on a two-year missions project in Europe, with a very young church, some 24 years ago… but he brought me home to Canada and has spent those last 24 years teaching me a good many things about himself, about people and about ministry in preparation for sending me back there with my family. The purpose of my life is becoming more and more clear, but it is only visible with more hindsight.

Being “on-purpose”

If you are reading this today and are unsure of your purpose… let me tell you what I told the church in Summerside on Sunday night. “Be patient. Don’t try to rush the unfolding of God’s plan in your life and serve Him faithfully in the local church. God called Paul and Barnabas while they were already serving in a certain capacity. If you wait for a clear vision of your purpose before you engage… you may miss out on it all together. God will give you experience along the way that will prepare you and open the doors for you to be “on-purpose.”

There. As my late grandmother would say… “That’s my sermon for the day.”

Thank you Bro. Wickett for putting this weekend together along with Bro. Hood.
We loved being with you both on The Gentle Island.

 Until next time…

Montgomery AL, Birthplace of US Civil Rights

From the Elm City, New Haven Connecticut, we took two days to make our way down to Montgomery, Alabama, where we spent a few days with Pastor & Mrs Timothy Mitchell, founding pastor of New Testament Christian Center.

Birth of a Friendship

We got to know the Mitchells through a translation opportunity. Mutual friends, missionaries Eddy & Della-Mae Kennedy, let us know that Pastor Mitchell was looking for some help translating a Bible study course for new believers that he had authored, entitled The Way More Perfectly.

Liz accepted to do the translation and so, during the months that ensued, we were in contact at regular intervals and at one point, without even planning it, the Mitchells were on a cruise that stopped for the day in Saint John, allowing us to meet in person for the first time. Following that meeting, there were a couple of times, two in particular, where the Lord prompted Bro. Mitchell to call us “just to see how things were going.”  Those calls came at pivotal moments and were definitely God-moments.

The translation was completed last year, but the friendship lived on and as soon as we decided to drive to Florida, we made a point of connecting with them. map_AL

Unexpected Surprise

GoddardAt one point in our drive, we realized that the highway we were on would take us within 10 minutes of Anderson, South Carolina (we had no idea this would be so beforehand… we just followed the GPS – nicknamed Olive for our trip) where Rev. Edward Goddard pastors a wonderful church (Sanctuary of Praise). Bro. Goddard was the pastor of Mission Point (First United Pentecostal) when Liz and I first started attending and so was an important part of our walk and growth in God.

We were able to stop in for a short visit and see the miracle church that God provided for them. So glad for even a short visit and thankful for the great example of this pastor who has been part of shaping who we are today.

Montgomery

IMG_8229After surviving heavy rain as we came through Atlanta, we arrived in Montgomery. Not only did we have the chance to worship with the Mitchells, both in the morning and evening services, but they showed us around the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement and the First Capital of the Confederacy.

As you read in my earlier post, The Power of One, the Rosa Parks Museum moved me tremendously (surprisingly so). We also visited the First White House of the Confederacy and the Alabama State Capitol (pictured at right) where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederacy.

We got a chance to visit the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site where African American servicemen had to fight to win their place, both in World War II missions and in military ranks back home.

The Civil Rights Movement is intricately woven into the American national identity and narrative, but such is not so much the case in Canada. Although we are aware of it, at varying degrees, I daresay it is not as widely understood here in all of its complexity. These two days were a humbling time as we were somewhat immersed in it.

Open Invitation to a GREAT church

If you live in, or are visiting the Montgomery area, you will find a great church in the New Testament Christian Center. They are located at 10300 US 80, Montgomery, AL, 36117  and can be reached at (334) 215-7215 (see link to their website, below).

If you are in Anderson, SC or the surrounding area… visit Sanctuary of Praise, 518 Stone Drive, Anderson S.C., 29625. You can reach the church at (864) 224-6699.

Next stop

…the Sunshine State. We’ll go there on Saturday

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Related Links:

 

New Haven… Connecticut’s Elm City

The first stop on our road-trip, was New Haven, Connecticut… nicknamed The Elm City for the high canopy of mature trees which characterize the city, reputedly the result of America’s first public tree-planting program.

Probably most known as the home of Yale University, New Haven was on our mind and has been in our heart for another reason.

Haven of Hope

Back in 2008, Pastor Rick Perry came to Saint John to speak in our annual missions conference, as a representative of North American Missions, since he and his wife Stacey were church planters in The Elm City. Our church partnered with them and two years later, sent a team to help them refurbish a newly purchased building that would become their church’s home… Haven of Hope.

Our friendship with the Perrys has continued to grow over the years, making it impossible to drive by without stopping to say hello!

French Connection

As we arrived on their doorstep, we noticed a car in the driveway bearing North Carolina license plates. The mystery was unveiled as soon as we knocked on the door, which was opened by missionary to France, Marcus Brainos!  How cool!!  We, of course, knew the Brainos’ from our time in France and had recently had them visit with us at Mission Point in Saint John (read about that visit here).

What a treat… we got to have a nice supper together with both the Perrys and the Brainos’ followed by a truly authentic cappuccino at Libby’s Italian Pastry Shop (VERY cool & VERY authentic! Also very old-school- don’t go unless you have cash as they don’t accept debit or credit cards).

map_CTForestThe Clear Call of God

I’ve always been amazed by the way God called the Perrys to New Haven. They were heading through, on their way someplace else, when, passing in front of the Forest Cinema, God spoke to Bro. Perry about establishing a church there. He didn’t immediately say anything but a short while later, when speaking with his wife about being called someplace, she responded… “It’s New Haven, isn’t it?  It was the Forest Cinema wasn’t it?”

God had spoken to her at the same time, and they both knew it, although neither immediately expressed it to the other.

God’s voice isn’t always that clear… sometimes you have to search it out a bit, but it was that clear to me when it came to our call to France, and I’m so glad it was. There will undoubtedly be days when “the going gets tough” but on those days, the clarity of God’s call will help us to continue forward.  I have long thought, and it’s been my experience, that you can make it through just about anything if you know, without doubt, that you are in God’s perfect will. I’m thankful that such certainty is available in Jesus.

Open Invitation to a GREAT church

If you live in, or are visiting the New Haven area, you will find a great church in Haven of Hope. They are located at 884 Grand Ave., New Haven, CT 06511  and can be reached at (203) 404-0339 (see link to their website, below).

Next stop… The land of rattlesnakes and water moccasins.

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Please pray today:

Two things that I’d ask you to pray about today…

  1. By the time this post is published, I’ll be on my way to Montreal for the UPC’s Canada Conference, where I’ll have the opportunity to present our project to pastors from across the country. Pray that some of these will partner with us.
  2. While in the area, I’ll also need to look after details that will facilitate living in Europe for two years. For this I have several appointments in both Montreal and Ottawa. Pray that these appointments go well and that “bureaucratic bog-down” doesn’t happen.

.Thank you!

Related Links:

 

Scott Sistrunk: Leadership Moments

The Old Expression…

“Lyghtly whan one wynneth, an other loseth*” is an old English expression from the 16th century that you have likely never heard before, although you’d know it’s modern equivalent:

“One man’s loss is another man’s gain”

That was the case on the last Sunday of March when yet another late-winter (technically early-Spring) storm buffeted the province of New Brunswick, dumping some 45cm of snow in the Perth-Andover area. For this reason, career church-planter Scott Sistrunk, rather than heading north, remained storm-stayed in Saint John after a planned morning service and lunch-learn with local church leadership.

Planned Ministry:

Source: my Instagram Feed: MikeLongSJ

Source: my Instagram Feed: MikeLongSJ

During the morning service Sis. Sistrunk sang and Bro. Sistrunk preached on the 5 people that you will find in every great church.

  1. an Andrew: whose first thought is to introduce Jesus to someone else.
  2. an Aquila & Priscilla:  who take time to disciple others… showing them “the way more perfectly”.
  3. a Widow-woman: not literally – but one who gives sacrificially.
  4. an Agabus: who operates in the gifts of the Spirit.
  5. a Dorcas:  who exudes kindness & good works.

Following an incredible morning service and time at the altar, he shared with our leaders, “The Engine of Church Growth”. Discussing key points and processes that are absolutely in place in every church where growth is occurring (when an organism is healthy… growth occurs naturally), including potential fail points and what some of those processes look like in churches of differing sizes.

Unexpected Ministry:

Given the fact that the Sistrunks would be in town for an extra evening and we were not having service that night, we had the opportunity to have supper together, and by the time we wound down, we were about 15 minutes shy of 3 hours! Where had the time gone?

Bro. & Sis. Sistrunk had been AIMers in South Africa during the mid-1990’s so they could appreciate some of the planning that we were in the midst of as well as some of the questions we had… yet by the same token, they could also relate to the eager anticipation that we feel as well… the desire to lift up the name of the LORD in the land to which we are called, for the time appointed.

sistrunk2

September 2013. Source: Instagram, MikeLongSJ

We discussed AIM in general, preparation for such undertakings (spiritually, financially and family-wise), VISION and execution of that vision. There were a couple of “God-moments” during the discussion and doors opened for future connection.

It blows me away that, because of a series of decisions to follow the Lord and His will, I get to rub shoulders with the incredible people that I do on a regular basis (beginning with the local church and it’s leadership).

“Lord, make and mold us after your image so that we can take what you and others have invested in us, and be profitable for your Kingdom.”

Footnote on Rev Scott Sistrunk:

The first time I’d ever heard of the Sistrunks, they were being interviewed by Rev. Carlton Coon on HMLive.  (a webcast which has since been renamed Mission North America Podcast). They have spent twenty-seven years in the Metro Detroit area and have planted six churches to-date with a seventh to begin later this month.

If you’ve never heard or seen Bro. Sistrunk minister, check out a few of these links:

  1. North American Missions’ Director’s Communiqué, March-April 2013 issue (.PDF).
  2. Podcast on “Change”, from the Westchester Church Podcast, May 2009.
  3. North American Missions 2009 video (then: HMLive) 11/10/2009.
  4. Several videos can be found at the here… at the Apostolic Leaders Network, discussing various aspects of Church Planting.

 

* [c 1527 T. Berthelet tr. Erasmus’ Sayings of Wise Men D1V]

The Châtellerault Church…

A bit o’ history…

Châtellerault Church, D749 et La Fontaine, Pasteur Paul Brochu

The first time I set foot in the Châtellerault church was in 2005…. but it didn’t look like this and it wasn’t in this building!

Paul Brochu, who founded the church in 2000, was in the USA on deputation that year and Steve Schobert was covering his furlough. Cécile LeDay, the first to receive the revelation of Jesus’ name, was still alive, and the church met in her large downtown home at 57 Boul. Aristide Briand, on the intersection of Rue de la Paix.

I have fond memories of Sis. LeDay who was a former nun and had impeccable French. The fact that I was a French Teacher at the University of New Brunswick at the time, meant that we had some great discussions about the finer details of the language. She would, from time to time, gently correct my use of a particular structure or expression. More than a French resource though, she was a faithful lady who wholeheartedly served the Lord in Spirit and Truth; truly an example of discipleship in action. She always sat in the back row, on the right side (even at that though, given that we were meeting in a living room, she was still only about 15′ from the pulpit!) 

Click here to see Bro. Brochu, preaching in that building in 2006.

Our first look at this building…

In 2006, we were on a family vacation in western France and joined the Brochus for service on Sunday morning. Following the service, they took us out to see the new building, just outside the city. God had blessed them with an incredible property and building right on the Ave. de Richelieu (Route Départementale D749, at the corner of La Fontaine, directly across from the Centre d’Équitation). It wouldn’t be until 2009 that I would set foot in that building for the first time.

Repurposed…

The building had once been a small manufacturing building so the large hangar (top pic, left side) was the workshop and the smaller section (top pic, right side) was the office area. It would be repurposed… a workshop yes, but for assembling and repairing lives broken by sin, with the power of the gospel of Jesus.

The building had been damaged by fire and so the church initially met in one of the smaller offices and could comfortably hold about 20 people. I preached there in 2009 and the Lord spoke to Sis. Jeannette about her need for baptism in Jesus’ name. Over the next 3 years, work progressed on the larger office area which would, in 2012, be dedicated as the new sanctuary.

Dedicated to a Dream

The picture below is a pretty special one. It was taken on September 22, 2012 during the dedication service for the new sanctuary. Though it wasn’t taken by me (I wasn’t in attendance), it’s special to me for a number of reasons…

  • Bro. & Sis. Brochu can be seen front and center, being ministered to rather than ministering (for Pastors in smaller churches, this can a rare occurrence).
  • This ministry couple have indeed been dedicated to a dream: planting a church in the heart of western France.
  • This photo represents my dream as well… a full church in the city of Châtellerault. It is my prayer and my desire to see 100 people, regularly worshipping in this church, by the time the Brochu’s come back from their deputation.

Is that a daring dream? a big vision? Yes.
Is anything too hard for the Lord? No.
… and so, I dream!

church crowd_b

If you’d like to partner with us and be part of the dream coming true… click here.

Mid-Winter Church Growth

MidWinter

I  love the subjet of Bro. Mike Noel’s email at 6:29am Thursday morning…

Life changing moment begins in 12 hrs!

Amid the incredible stories of our neighbours to the deep south being stuck in the grips of winter conditions that they’re sorely unaccustomed to… here in New Brunswick, winter is running it’s normal course. But in the midst of that, we gather at Capital Community Church in Fredericton, NB for the purpose of Life changing moments.

Local world-changers…

Looking forward to hearing from a couple of young men, heroes from our district:

  • Bro Mike Hennessey is the student pastor at Capital Community Church. Neat story… about 2 months ago a young lady called the youth pastor in Saint John. They’d gone the web, looked for a church and drove 45min to get to us (they were from close to Fredericton). They met with Pastor Carter who put them in touch with Bro. Hennesssey who taught them a Bible Study. Two weeks ago, one of them received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and last week they were both baptized. God is changing lives.
  • Bro. Kent Carter is a church planter in the city of Shediac, New Brunswick… doing an incredible job and, like Daniel of the Old Testament, has an excellent spirit!
  • Bro. Tom Barkley who pastors in the Town of Sackville, NB, a university town and seat of power given the many “thinkers” who have walked through the streets there.
  • Bro. Donald Hood who pastors the church in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: a quiet man in person, but who speaks loudly in the realm of prayer.

Katy, TX World Changer…

Pastor Rob McKee  of The Pentecostals of Katy Texas, did an incredible job as main speaker! (He only found out, roughly 24h prior to the first service, that he was coming up here, after the original speaker was unable to come). Thank you for the great things you gave to us!

Between BOTT last week and this Mid-Winter Church Growth Conference this week… I feel like I’ve been drinking out of a fire hose… barely able to digest it all. Both at BOTT and here, it’s amazing the number of things, relating to Mission Point, that we are already doing.  I find myself wondering, time and time again, how this or that could be used, implemented, adapted, etc. in France. Which brings me to…

Banner time!

At this conference, I wore two hats, as indicated by the two banners.

  1. On the right you see a banner for the Pentecostal Messenger, the official publication of the Atlantic District, for which I’m the editor.
  2. On the left, you can see a banner for our AIM project. The goal is to begin, even now, to generate awareness of our project and engage in some discussions about the specifics as they relate to ministry once onsite as well as financial and other considerations leading up to our departure.

    MidWinter-Promo-feathered

Thank you, Atlantic District ministers, for your warm welcome (as usual) and for expressing interest in having us come to share our burden with your churches. We’ve already had several invitations for Fall and are appreciative of these opportunities.

Prayer time…

Lord, thank you for speaking to me in these meetings. Help me to properly discern the meaning and timing of all these things. I want to be a living, breathing example of the fullness that characterized your ministry while on earth and continues to characterize your ministry through the Holy Ghost and the apostolic New Testament Church.

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