GCI Update

Place-sharing with Jesus

Copyright 1984 Doug Hall and Christianity Today International/BuildingChurchLeaders.com. Used with permission.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many of you reading this are leaders in GCI churches and denominational ministries. And as the cartoon above suggests, sometimes you are inundated with offers of books, programs, consultants and the like that tend to emphasize efficient program management and guaranteed results more than what is central to Christian ministry—journeying with Jesus as he, through the Holy Spirit, fulfills the Father’s mission to our world.

Theologian and Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to what Jesus is doing in the world as our Lord’s ongoing “place-sharing” ministry. The gospel declares that the incarnate Son of God, through the Holy Spirit, is sharing the “place” or life situation with every person on earth and is at work acting on their behalf.

Many people are blind to this presence and activity of Jesus in their lives. We refer to these people as nonbelievers. However, Jesus, their true Shepherd, refers compassionately to them as his “lost” sheep (Luke 15:4). As believers who know Jesus as their Shepherd (John 10:11, 14), we are aware of his place-sharing ministry and his call to us to join with him in “finding” his lost sheep.

If we are to join actively in what Jesus is doing, we must hear his voice. We must discern the nature of his ongoing place-sharing activity in the world around us, and the nature of his call to us as a community of believers to join in. This participation is not a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all program. Rather, it is a dynamic, active lifestyle that involves us in Jesus’ missional life, being lived out through the Holy Spirit in our world.

So what place, then, do programs and consulting services have in that context? Theologian Thomas F. Torrance referred to the church’s organizational structures and programs as “scaffolds” that, when used appropriately, can greatly assist the church in doing what it is called to do. Sadly, structures and programs can begin to take on a life of their own, being seen as the ministry itself, rather than as tools to facilitate ministry. When that happens, they become impediments to participation. Scaffolds can be a help to construction, but they can also be used as frameworks for hanging people! Obviously, we need to be selective and discerning in how we use them.

Thankfully, some books, programs and consulting services are helpful scaffolds. They teach us skills of discernment, and processes and approaches that help us join with Jesus in his place-sharing ministry. GCI U.S. Church Administration and Development (CAD) offers US churches one such resource. It’s called Transformational Church (TC) Consulting. It utilizes a survey instrument produced by LifeWay (called the Transformational Church Assessment Tool) that assists congregations in discerning the work that Jesus has been doing among them.

The survey is followed by a daylong Discovery Retreat. At this retreat, which is facilitated by a CAD consultant trained and certified by LifeWay, congregational leaders come together to clarify the Lord’s call to them to share more effectively in the work that he has for them. Following the retreat, the CAD consultant prepares a report that gives form to what the congregation has discerned and committed to do.

For information about CAD’s TC consulting services go to http://mindev.gci.org/services.htm (look under consulting services). For those who do not have access to a CAD consultant, it would be helpful to read and then discuss the book Transformational Church, creating a new scorecard for congregations (by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer, B&H, 2009).

I am deeply grateful that God has given us a theology that grounds us in the love and life of Christ, and helps us understand more clearly the nature of his ongoing work, and thus of our work. This theology helps us to use wisely and effectively certain helpful ministry tools. My prayer is that our understanding of all these matters will continue to grow so that our ministry activity will be even more focused on what really counts—a life of place-sharing with Jesus.

It is a joy to share the journey with you.

In Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach

Medical mission in India

The following report is from Raymond Olson, pastor of The Harbor Missionary Church, GCI’s congregation in Juneau, WI.

Raymond Olson prays for Kishore.

My wife Denise and I recently participated in a three-week mission trip to India. We helped provide medical care to 1600 people in six camps. The congregation I pastor supplied money for medicine. Denise, who is a nurse, partnered with a local pharmacist named Kishore (who is also an evangelist and pastor), and three area doctors to provide medical care.

For three weeks we ministered to people’s physical needs while looking for opportunities to minister to their spiritual needs by talking about Jesus and the gospel. Those who showed interest were invited to one of the churches that Kishore oversees in the area. I had the opportunity to minister with Kishore in worship services. It was a very moving experience.

God is certainly moving with power in India. It was a great joy to be part of that movement – seeing people’s faith and the miracles that God provides to reassure them of his presence. It was a real eye opener.

GenMin summit

GCI’s Generations Ministries (GenMin) recently held its annual summit at Mt. Lebanon Camp and Conference Center near Dallas, TX. The event was attended by about 100 GenMin leaders and workers. Activities included times of worship, presentations and break-out discussions. Plenary presenters included Joseph Tkach, Dan Rogers, Ted Johnston, Greg Williams, Mark and Anne Stapleton, Carrie Smith, Sarah Miles and Jeb Egbert.

A principal focus for the summit was to explore GenMin’s mission to help congregations build cross-generational communities that share actively in Jesus’ mission. A principal GenMin concern is helping churches identify, equip and deploy a new generation of ministry workers, pastors and church planters. Toward that end, GenMin programs are designed to be “incubators” of young leaders.

Anthony Mullins (with baton) is commissioned as the new GenMin director by former directors Greg Williams (at left), Ted Johnston & Jeb Egbert

This year’s summit was an encouraging demonstration of progress, with several “leadership batons” passed to younger leaders. GenMin director Greg Williams passed his baton to Anthony Mullins, who will serve as the new GenMin director. Following that, several GenMin camp directors passed their batons: PD Kurts passed directorship of Higher Ground Camp to Natalie Wendt; Anthony Rice passed directorship of YES Camp to Brandon Antwine; Jeff Broadnax passed directorship of New Heights Camp to Dishon Mills; and Jay Richie passed directorship of Pathways Camp to Aaron Frim. It was also announced that Darlene Davis will direct the newest addition to GenMin’s camp ministry family – Camp Oasis in Tennessee. Congratulations to these new leaders, and thanks to those who have served so well!

Mission Event Resource Team

It was also announced at the summit that GenMin has formed a Mission Event Resource Team, made up of leaders from GenMin short-term mission agencies and others with mission experience. The team met at the summit to brainstorm ways to help resource GCI congregations and ministries for conducting mission events of their own to reach out with God’s love both locally and globally.

To learn more about GenMin’s camps, mission events and other programs, go to http://genmin.gci.org/.

Amber (Schnippert) Patrick

The following prayer request is from Amber’s father and GCI legal counsel, Bernie Schnippert.

Although it is time for another health update from me, and things are not going well (I am not recovering from a bad reaction to a medicine), this update will be about an even more serious Schnippert health matter.

We had thought that my middle daughter, Amber Patrick, who is age 37, had beaten breast cancer. However, we learned recently that the cancer spread into her back and other vital organs. Five or six of her vertebrae are cracked by the cancer, and it is in her lungs, bones and liver. Unless she responds almost miraculously to the nuclear and chemical therapy, the prognosis is very grave.

On top of our other health problems, my family, daughters in-laws, etc. are finding themselves in shock, dismay, and mental exhaustion over this serious matter, with tears flowing freely.

Please pray for Amber, for my wife Arlene (who now has two close relatives with cancer – me and Amber) – and all our relatives. Amber is married to Josh Patrick, the son of Don and Joyce Patrick, and has a 5-year-old daughter, Megan, who needs a mother.

Cards and letters are encouraged and may be sent to:

Amber Patrick
2322 Oakhaven Drive
Duarte, Ca. 91010

John Nelson ordained

Shirley Nelson, John Nelson and Rick Shallenberger

Long-time GCI member John Nelson was recently ordained an elder in the Pikeville, KY congregation. John was then commissioned to serve on the Pikeville pastoral team by district pastor Rick Shallenberger.

When the Pikeville church members were asked if they wanted to participate, the entire congregation came forward and laid hands on John and his wife, Shirley.


CAD announces new leaders

GCI Church Administration and Development (CAD) director Dr. Dan Rogers recently announced several CAD leadership transitions. These transitions, listed below, express CAD’s ongoing commitment to leadership multiplication in pursuit of GCI’s denominational vision: All kinds of churches for all kinds of people in all kinds of places.

Ken Williams

Ken Williams will retire later this year from his responsibility as GCI US Regional Pastor. Ken shared his thoughts on this milestone event:

I celebrated my 65th birthday in March, 2010 and started receiving my pension early the next year, while continuing to serve as a regional pastor. Though I love serving full-time in GCI, I realized that it was time to ask CAD to implement a succession plan to replace me. Dan Rogers agreed and thus we are now announcing this upcoming leadership transition. I will retire on June 30 of this year.

We are grateful for Ken’s visionary commitment to leadership multiplication, including his willingness to help prepare his replacement, Greg Williams.

Greg Williams

Greg will be replacing Ken as regional pastor in the Eastern two-thirds of the US. Greg is now working side-by-side with Ken and will take his place in this CAD leadership role beginning on June 30.

Anthony Mullins

Anthony Mullins has replaced Greg as director of Generations Ministries. Anthony has served for several years as part of GenMin’s core leadership team, which will continue to include Greg and Ted Johnston (both former GenMin directors).

Jim Roberts retires

Hazel Roberts, Jim Roberts & Joseph Tkach

At the recent Ontario, CA regional conference, GCI Pastor General Joseph Tkach presented a gift to James (Jim) and Hazel Roberts to honor them as Jim retires from full-time employment with GCI.

Over the years, Jim has worked in several GCI departments. Upon entering Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA in 1967 he worked part time as a custodian. Then beginning in 1969 he worked part time in data processing – a job that became full time when he graduated college in 1970. Over the years, his job responsibilities included being tape librarian, operations technical analyst and production analyst. Eventually he became the manager of the CIS Information Center.

Then in 1994, God called Jim into the ministry and he was ordained an elder. In the years that followed, he pastored GCI churches in Dayton, OH; San Francisco, CA and, most recently, One in Christ Community Church, the GCI congregation in San Leandro, CA.

Jim retired on February 10, 2012, after almost 42 years of full-time employment with the church. Our thanks and best wishes to Jim and Hazel!