GCI Update

Developing leaders

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

joeandtammyHow do you feel about being evaluated or evaluating someone else? I imagine many of us are uncomfortable with both. Maybe we’ve had a painful evaluation at work or in the church. Perhaps a little humor will help—here are quotes from actual employee evaluations (the employees probably failed to see the humor!):

  • Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
  • Slipped into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t watching.
  • She brings a lot of joy when she leaves the room.
  • Some drink from the fountain of knowledge—he only gargled.
  • If brains were taxed, he’d get a rebate.
  • Gates are down; lights are flashing; but the train isn’t coming.

Though evaluations within the church might seem at odds with respecting and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s our responsibility as leaders to appropriately evaluate those we are called to lead. Why? Because through processes of discernment, which include evaluation, we respond to what the Spirit is doing in the lives of those we lead. We acknowledge how they have been gifted (and not gifted), and observe their level of maturity (the presence in their lives of the fruit of the Spirit and wisdom—see Galatians 5:22-25 and 1 Timothy 3:6). With this understanding, we then work to provide clear and accessible “pathways” into opportunities where they are enabled to use their gifts to share in Jesus’ mission, through the church, to the world.

Leadership Training
© 1986, used with permission of Erik Johnson & Leadership Journal

A lack of evaluation has, at times, led to appointing people to the wrong ministry roles. It also has contributed to a lack of intentionality in developing new leaders. Perhaps worse, failure to evaluate has led to a lack of discerning the rich variety of the Spirit’s gifting, evidenced by “yellow-pencil,” assembly-line approaches to developing leaders.

By pointing out these deficits, I’m not suggesting that all we did in the past was of the “yellow-pencil,” cloning ourselves variety. I was blessed to work under leaders who recognized that my gifts and skills were quite different than theirs. One pastor saw that I was a better speaker than he was and gave me more preaching assignments than he gave himself. Another saw that I had more administrative talent than he did and helped me get more involved in that area. I recall him saying to me, “Nobody likes paperwork, but you know how to get it done!” I have fond memories of all the people who supervised me as a ministerial trainee, assistant pastor and associate pastor.

It delights me that we‘re now taking a more comprehensive approach to leader selection and development. In the U.S. we’re now using a comprehensive system that includes assessments to help employed pastor and church planter candidates confirm that their calling, gifting and experience is a good fit for their prospective ministry role. These assessments are conducted by leaders who have been appropriately trained.

© 1998, used with permission of Stanley Elliott & Leadership Journal

I encourage our pastors to have in place within their congregations a process for identifying and developing new leaders (assistant pastors, ministry leaders, etc.). I know there often is pressure to recruit people to fill ministry slots, but it’s usually best to leave slots unfilled than to force-fit the proverbial “square peg into a round hole.” Developing leaders takes time and focused care that includes appropriate evaluation.

I recall that in one church I attended, a musically-challenged elder was appointed to lead the choir. It wasn’t a matter of not having gifted and qualified people to serve in that role, it was just a bad discernment-appointment process. The results were disastrous.

As one author put it, “What the Lord anoints, the church appoints.” I like that, because it reminds us that raising up new leaders is about spiritual discernment (Who has the Lord anointed, and how?), and about investing time and other resources to develop those individuals, leading to appointing them to roles within the church that are consistent with their divine calling. I’m grateful to see that many of our established leaders are investing time and other resources in this way. A wonderful example is our U.S. Intern Program directed by Jeff McSwain (you can read about that program at www.gci.org/internprogram).

As we follow the Holy  Spirit’s lead in developing leaders, it’s important to remember that leadership within the church is not limited to a special, professional class. Christ’s ministry, including roles of leadership, is to be shared by all of his followers in accordance with the way the Spirit fosters in them both gifts and fruits. My deep thanks to all who serve, and special thanks to those called to lead who understand that a big part of that calling is to identify, equip, mentor and then release other leaders. That is the way of Jesus, and I’m delighted it’s becoming our way more and more.

It’s vital to the joy and health of each congregation that its members participate in mission with Jesus–most as ministry workers, some as ministry leaders. Every member and thus every congregation is like the vine to the branch, organically connected to and dependent upon Christ for its life (see John 15). As a living organism, the church’s concern should not be, “What do we want to do?” but rather, “What is Christ doing and how may we get involved?” The difference may seem subtle, but it’s critical.

I pray that we all work together to follow where Jesus leads, doing what Jesus does, and bringing with us others whom the Spirit is calling to active participation.

On mission with Jesus and with you,

Joseph Tkach

P.S. For some helpful resources on our website related to developing leaders, go to http://www.gci.org/content/competency-multiplying-leaders-ministries-and-churches.

U.S. camp reports

Here are reports from several of the 20 U.S. camps sponsored by GCI Generations Ministries. Our thanks to all who selflessly gave their time and other resources to make these camps possible.

Base Camp (NW)

Camp director Susan McNutt reports on this camp held in Oregon. It’s one of GenMin’s newest.

This year, 37 campers and 31 staff volunteers experienced one of the most transformative camps we’ve had. Ranging in age from five to seventeen, many campers came from unchurched homes, and the questions they had for our pastoral staff were both challenging and encouraging. The Superhero theme influenced every aspect of camp, from chapel services and games to T-shirts and backpacks. Our location may be rustic, but our relationship with the staff of the host facility continues to grow.

Base camp

Heartland SEP

This report is from camp director Todd Woods. Pictures and videos are posted at https://www.facebook.com/groups/HeartlandSEP/ and http://heartlandcamp.org/.

We had 90 campers (32 of them new), 107 staff members (great camper-staff ratio!) and seven baptisms! An unexpected blessing occurred when we learned that there were seven staffers who, on their way to SEP Scotland, were being denied a visa to stay in Scotland and had to return to the U.S. Although we were bursting at the seams, we agreed to have them join us at Heartland. They helped out with various staff chores including producing a promotional video and helping with our new website. We were greatly blessed to have them! Several staff members this year were new, having risen from the ranks of campers. We love to see the leadership baton being passed in that way!

HeartlandOur “Jesus—Better Than a Superhero” theme carried throughout chapel services and a dance where many dressed as caped-crusaders. Campers and staff were treated to a magic show followed by an ice cream social. Once again, we held Camo Night, Camper’s Choice, and Praise and Worship Night. Christian Living classes covered the meaning of Communion and the doctrine of the Trinity. Other activities included swimming, archery, pottery, arts and crafts, website design, photography, target shooting, childcare for aspiring babysitters, drama and dance.

Gary and Cathy Deddo visited and commented that, “This is the way the body of Christ should look and function—all generations at work and play.” Heartland veteran, Pastor James Newby, shared the same feeling: “I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of many camps since the 1970s; this one was special. It was a microcosm of how the church should be 365 days a year: welcoming, loving, inclusive—a transformational time and place.”

The final chapel service was overflowing as parents arrived to pick up their children. God’s hand was in all the preparatory work as many obstacles were overcome through no effort of our own, but by his merciful and wonderful intervention. All hands left “tired but inspired,” looking forward to what God will do at Heartland next year.

SEP Montana

This report is from camp director Tobe Johnson. Pictures are posted at https://www.facebook.com/SEPMontana?fref=ts.

SEP MontanaSEP Montana is a mission-focused camp for kids age 8-17. It’s held on the banks of Holter Lake in a Montana wilderness campground. The site provides water, electricity and a pavilion that holds about 50 people. Everything else must be brought in: dorms, kitchen, health center, etc.—all to serve 117 campers and 59 staffers. 2014, our 8th year of operation, was a great success. The theme, “At the Movies: Superheroes” was unpacked in our theme song from the Superman movie, and the curriculum from Generations Ministries.

Our activities included tubing, jet skiing, Christian Living, arts/crafts, paintball, sapphire mining, team building, boat rides, wilderness skills, service projects, Montana animals in the wild (sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks) and movie time. Highlights of camp this summer included:

  • 17 baptisms (both campers and staff)
  • sponsorship from 40 sources in the surrounding community (churches, individuals, businesses and other organizations)
  • one of our parents flew into camp in a helicopter to teach the class on Montana wildlife
  • wake-boarding (over 50 kids participated)
  • a camp store where kids could purchase snacks
  • over 75% of the campers responded to an altar call—giving their lives to Jesus Christ, turning their “stuff” over to him by nailing it to the cross, or requesting prayer for various reasons—there were many tears of joy
  • “the storm”—causing us to scramble to get off the water in a timely and safe manner, and then securing camp for the rough weather—it was quite a bonding experience—thankfully, no one was hurt

SEP Rockies

This report is from camp director Sarah Miles. A video from the camp can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDWdQYx5DQ4&feature=youtu.be.

SEP RockiesWhat a joy it was to share God’s ministry through the summer camp experience in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado! This year we had 60 campers and 40 staff members. Here are highlights:

  • Extra time for morning devotions—campers spent more time in “quiet time,” while staffers watched a sermon video—these provided an awesome start to each day—the overflow of God’s love was evident
  • An new discipleship program for veteran campers related to spiritual formation and being equipped for serving on staff—helping them experience that concept of Isaiah 58: “If you spend yourself on behalf of others…you will be like a well-watered garden…your frame will be strengthened”—what greater gift can we give a young person in today’s me-centered society than to teach them to serve others?
  • The camp theme worked well (logo at right)—we focused on the victory that is ours in the Ultimate Superhero, Jesus—with him we can stand up under any burden, overcome any trial and live victorious lives
  • As usual, the guy/girl day at camp was a big hit—gender segregated groups talked through the issues that young people face, seeking God’s principles, and not those of the culture around them

New Picture (2)

The Harvest Camp

This report is from camp director Howard Blakeney. The Harvest Camp is one of GenMin’s newest camps. It’s based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

harvest2I’m thankful to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be able to report that our start-up succeeded. It almost didn’t—we had financial challenges, among others. But God provided the needed resources for it to take place.

We were a small group—18 campers and staff. However, the Spirit was present in abundance! 90% of our campers were unchurched. Here are last-day comments from two of them:

  • “I learned that we are adopted by our Father God, and I had never heard of this before. I now know what that means.”
  • “I enjoyed finding out what my spiritual gifts are.”

Some parents called me following camp to report that camp was all their children were talking about! One said that their teen got his Bible out and started preaching! During one of our final worship sessions, we taught on baptism from a Trinitarian perspective and without an altar call or invitation, three youth asked to be baptized. We concluded camp by baptizing them in the Atlantic Ocean! We praise Jesus for entrusting these campers to our care!

New Heights

This report is from camp director Dishon Mills.

2014 was a great summer for us. We welcomed 77 campers and 61 staff volunteers to beautiful Camp Mattatuck for a week of fun and spiritual growth. Campers participated in nature walks, archery, riflery, BMX bikes, volleyball, arts and crafts, fishing, swimming, ropes course, dance, skits, poetry, singing and canoeing. They also participated in an activity to design their own superhero, in keeping with the camp theme. Each day, campers prepared something new for “Showtime”—it seemed like each day their performances got better. This summer we placed additional emphasis on spiritual development. Three pastors led devotions daily for staff members. During daily chapels, a staffer or camper shared a testimony about why Jesus was his/her Superhero.

New Heights would not be complete without at least one rainstorm—a big one headed toward us this year. But we were prepared, and with the Boy Scouts helping, we executed a fairly complex plan to move every person staying in tents to cabins for the night. Everyone slept safe and dry. Thankfully, the storm lost much of its strength before it reached us.

At the end of camp we gave each camper and staff member an Olympic-style gold medal with the word “HERO” engraved on it. Since Jesus is our Superhero, he invites us to participate with him as heroes in our homes, churches, schools and communities. We wanted the campers to be motivated to participate with Christ in what he is doing around them. Each camper walked between two bonfires where staffers placed the medal on their neck and prayed for them.

Six campers and one staffer were baptized on the last day of camp. We would have baptized more, but some of the parents could not be contacted in time. Some campers said they’d get baptized back home.

The success of camp this year had a lot to do with prayer. Months prior to the start of camp, members of local GCI congregations began praying for each camper and staff member by name. This continued until the last day of camp and beyond. Many church members also sent a message of God’s love to a camper. It was extraordinary to see children who had never received mail get an unexpected card at camp letting them know how much they are loved!

Here is a video from New Heights (on YouTube at http://youtu.be/a2qsW4QTdSQ):


We thought you’d enjoy viewing a recently-produced video promoting GenMin’s Southern California camp (on YouTube at http://youtu.be/1aEwy_cIj18):

Jesus loves messes

Here’s a thought-provoking video that speaks to our participation in mission with Jesus. His ministry often is quite “messy.”

Watch on YouTube at http://youtu.be/YsMqt9TtxsM

Death of Robert Haycraft

Bob Haycraft

We are saddened to learn of the recent death of Robert Haycraft, a member of the pastoral care team in our Bowling Green, Kentucky congregation. Robert died within ten days of being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was 80 years old and is survived by his wife Judy, five children, five step-children and several grandchildren.

Cards and letters can be sent to:

Judy Haycraft
338 Clark Circle
Bowling Green, KY 42103

Willi Mandel

This is an update to a previous prayer request for retired GCI pastor Willi Mandel and his wife Ingrid. 

Willi thanks everyone for their prayers and cards. His thoracic surgeon says that the lump under Willi’s breast bone is a thynoma—a type of tumor. It could be new or something he’s had for a long time; it could be benign or malignant. The doctor gave him three options: 1) surgery to remove the tumor (the surgery would be similar to open-heart surgery, with a long recovery period);  2) chemotherapy to shrink the tumor (assuming it’s cancerous); 3) another cat scan in about 6 to 9 months, then make a decision about further treatment. Willi and Ingrid have opted for the third option, since Willi has no current symptoms or problems related to the tumor.

Thanks for your continued prayer for Willi and Ingrid. Cards may be sent to:

Wilhelm and Ingrid Mandel
747 Tanner Drive
Kingston, ON K7M 9G7

Ebola crisis in Africa

This prayer request is from Kalengule Kaoma, one of GCI’s mission developers in Africa.

As you know, Ebola is spreading rapidly in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Global media have been reporting rioting in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Food shortages there are due primarily to travel restrictions.

Although there is noticeable reduction in travel by air, a lot of people are still travelling and it is easy to spread the disease that way. Thankfully, some countries have taken measures to educate travelers about Ebola. In Malawi, all travelers are screened for Ebola at airports.

Robert Browne, GCI director in Liberia, reports that the situation is, “Like being in prison—prices of commodities have gone high and almost every pastor of GCI in Liberia is stranded.” We will be looking for ways to assist them. We ask our worldwide family to lift these people up to God in prayer.

Online books from GCI

In addition to posting on our website (GCI.org) and here in GCI Weekly Update, we also publish some of our writings in the form of books that are published online (e-books). These books can be read online or downloaded (often at no cost) to be printed or stored on your computer or other device. Here are four e-books now available for free:

The Trinitarian Conversations books are also available for purchase in paperback form, go to https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=trinitarian+conversations&sitesearch_type=STORE.

Essex Golden Oldies

GCI’s congregation in Essex, England is pastored by Tony Goudie. It’s a lively church, with an average attendance of about 55 people of various ages. Among the members are five couples that all have celebrated their gold wedding anniversaries—50 years of marriage! We offer them our hearty congratulations on this wonderful attainment and extend to them our best wishes for many more such celebrations in the years ahead.

Golden oldies
Left to right: Alan and Lore Riley (married March 1962); Martin and Mavis Brown (married March 1963); Ted and Gwen Beech (married October 1963); Philip and Gillian Stevens (married February 1964); Edward and Irene Smith (married July 1964).

Ruel Guerrero

Ruel and Marilou Guerrero
Marilou and Ruel Guerrero

Ruel Guerrero, our pastor in Las Vegas, Nevada, learned at an early age that fighting has consequences. “My father was a boxing enthusiast. One day when I was about five years old, he coaxed me to punch our neighbor’s kid on the arm. The kid, who was about a year younger than I, was standing right in front of our house. I went outside as he instructed and punched him. The kid wailed so loud, I ran back inside and felt so sorry for him. From then on, I realized I don’t like hurting other people. I never got into a fight after that even when I was bullied at school.”

Ruel grew up in Manila, Philippines and stayed there until he was 16. “After graduating from high school in 1977, I immigrated with my parents to San Francisco, California. I then moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, where after eight months I enlisted in the US Air Force. On my first tour I was stationed at Nellis AFB, Nevada, where I first was involved with WCG. My sister and brother-in-law were attending WCG in the Philippines when I became interested. While stationed at Nellis, I found The World Tomorrow radio broadcast and began attending the Las Vegas congregation where I was baptized by interim pastor John Halford.”

After obtaining an early honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1980, Ruel applied for Ambassador College. “I attended there from 1980-83. After graduation I returned to Manila with the goal of serving the church there. Marilou (pronounced “Malou”) and I were married in 1985 and I gave up my US green card to continue serving the church in the Philippines.” Ruel and Marilou have four children: Jether (28, who is married and lives in the Philippines), and Joshua (26), Jonathan (23) and Janine (21) who are single and live in Las Vegas.

Speaking of Marilou, Ruel said, “She is my constant companion in ministry, whether at the weekly service, visitation, praying for the sick, teaching home groups, sharing Jesus on the streets, or just listening to God in the park. She is in charge of the congregation’s prayer ministry and helps with teaching worship in the children’s ministry. She is a constant reminder to me that God wants to see us free and that he is the God of miracles.”

Ruel was ordained an elder in 1992. “Around that time God had sovereignly opened my eyes leading to spiritual rebirth. I became assistant pastor of three congregations south of Manila. In 1994, I became pastor of two of those. But my stint as a pastor in WCG was short-lived. In the time of doctrinal turmoil within WCG in the mid 70s, we felt led to leave WCG and become members  of Vineyard Christian Fellowship in the Philippines. We planted a church in that fellowship in southern Manila and sponsored another plant in southern Luzon island. We also participated in prison ministry, feeding malnourished children, serving the urban poor and an inner healing ministry. In 2003 I was asked to lead and chair the national board of the Association of Vineyard Churches (Philippines). We thoroughly enjoyed the work God gave us in that fellowship.”

A few years ago, Ruel re-connected with long-time friend, GCI district and church pastor Bermie Dizon. “He invited me to return to GCI and apply to become pastor of the Long Beach, California congregation. My wife and I prayed about it for a couple of months, then we were informed that the position was no longer available but Las Vegas was about to need a new pastor. It took six months of prayer before I finally heard clearly from God that he wanted me to apply for that position. I did so in October 2012 and was installed there as senior pastor in June 2013.”

Ruel and his family love camping. “We try to go at least twice a year. My children and I love to hike, and when we can, we join local hiking groups.” Ruel and Marilou also love to tour, “especially when we can combine sightseeing and missions.” He shared a story about a recent trip to San Diego, California. “We met a homeless man in front of the Catholic church, shared the gospel with him, led him to follow Jesus and baptized him. We gave him the local GCI pastor’s contact information so he could connect with Christians in town.” That evening, the couple was at the marina waiting for what felt like another mission opportunity when a Filipino family approached them. “They invited us to share in their picnic meal. When Mark and Anne Stapleton (pastors of the San Diego congregation) arrived to meet us, they also were invited to the meal. Before we left, we had opportunity to pray for the whole family and to give them Mark’s business card.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being a pastor, Ruel said, “Having the opportunity to point people to Jesus and help them develop a close and personal relationship with him. I especially enjoy helping stir the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, guiding people towards the appropriate use of those gifts; also helping them realize the deep and personal love of the Father and encouraging them to share that love with others.”

Speaking of GCI, Ruel said he loves seeing the Father at work in GCI and following his lead. “I believe I am here for a divine reason—to discover that reason and join God in his mission. In Las Vegas, we are experiencing God’s favor in the congregation. We are learning to share the love of God with unbelievers, to connect with other believers, and to encounter Jesus 24/7, including gathering in small groups throughout the communities where our members live.”

Ruel says that his passion is “helping others understand that our worship of God is, more than anything else, the laying down of our lives for others on a daily basis. In that we follow Jesus who gave up his life for us all on the cross. This worship involves every facet of our lives and every facet of church life, including church gatherings. I want to see the planting of churches that express that kind of sacrificial love for others.”

Ruel’s most memorable moment was when he was invited to preach at a church in Manila. “I asked God what he wanted me to speak on, especially since I did not know the congregation and had no idea what they needed. God told me to speak on love and gave me John 15 as my text. I had to reread the whole chapter several times before it finally dawned on me that the central verse in the chapter was verse 13. That incident launched me into a lifelong search in the New Testament as to how the early church obeyed the New Commandment in verse 12 and followed Jesus’ example of laying down his life in verse 13. That search changed my entire ministry, ecclesiology and approach to following Jesus.”

Ruel feels closest to God when he is “walking out in nature and just listening to God’s voice. Sometimes he speaks to me ‘out of the blue,’ when its least expected. I realize it’s from God, because it’s so like how he reveals himself in Scripture and so unlike me in my brokenness. Generally, my whole day is spent talking with God. But the communication is profoundly intimate when he calls me to walk with him outdoors.”