GCI Update

Let’s be “actively patient”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joseph and Tammy TkachWe’re all familiar with the scripture that says, “Patience is a virtue.” Except, well, there isn’t one, though the Bible does say a lot about patience. Paul lists it as part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 ESV). He also encourages us to be patient in affliction (Romans 12:12), to wait patiently for what we do not yet have (Romans 8:25), to patiently bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2), and to not grow weary in doing good, because if we are patient, we’ll reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). Scripture also tells us to “wait for the Lord” (Psalms 27:14), but, unfortunately, some mistake waiting patiently with inactivity.

One of our regional pastors (RPs) attended a meeting in which each discussion item referring to renewal or mission was responded to by the congregation’s leaders this way: “We know we need to do that in the future, but we are waiting on the Lord.” I’m sure these leaders believed they were being patient as they waited for God to make clear what direction they should take in outreach. There are other congregations “waiting on the Lord” to give them a sign they should change to a day or time of worship more convenient for new believers. The RP told me, “I finally asked the leaders, ‘What are you waiting on the Lord to do?’ Then I explained that God was likely waiting on them to participate in what he was doing already. As I did, I started hearing several say, Amen!

Follow Me by Liz Lemon Swindle (used with permission)
Follow Me by Liz Lemon Swindle (used with artist’s permission)

When faced with difficult decisions, we’d all like a sign from God we can show others—one telling us where to go, and how and when to go there. But that is not how God typically works. Instead he often simply says, “Follow me,” exhorting us to take a step forward without understanding the particulars. We should remember that Jesus’ original disciples, both before and after Pentecost, struggled at times to understand where their Messiah was leading. Though Jesus is a perfect teacher and guide, they were not perfect learners and followers. We too often struggle to understand what Jesus is saying and where he is leading—sometimes we fear moving forward because we fear that we will fail. This fear often drives us into inactivity, which we then wrongly equate with patience—with “waiting on the Lord.”

We need not fear our mistakes, or a lack of clarity about the road forward. Though Jesus’ first disciples made many mistakes, the Lord kept giving them opportunity to join him in what he was doing—to follow where he was leading, even if that meant correction at points along the way. Jesus does the same today, reminding us that any “success” we experience will be the result of his work, not our own.

We should not be alarmed when we’re unable to fully understand the things of God. Times of uncertainty call for patience, and sometimes that means waiting for God to intervene before we take the next step. But whatever the situation, we’re always Jesus’ disciples, called to hear and follow him. In that journey, we must remember that our learning doesn’t come just from praying and reading Holy Scripture. Much of it comes through taking action—moving forward, in hope and faith (informed by prayer and the Word), even when it is not clear where the Lord is leading.

God wants his church to be healthy and thus to grow. He wants us to join him in his mission to the world, taking gospel-directed steps to serve our communities. When we do so, we will make mistakes. Sometimes our mission and outreach initiatives will fail to produce hoped-for fruit. Yet we will learn from those mistakes. As we see in the early church of the New Testament, our Lord will graciously use our mistakes as we entrust them to him, in repentance if need be. He will grow and mature us, forming us more closely to the image of Jesus Christ. With this understanding, we will not view a lack of immediate fruit as failure. In his time and way, God can and will bring forth fruit from our efforts, particularly when those efforts are focused on introducing people to Jesus by living and sharing the gospel. And the first fruits that we may see will be those in our own lives.

True “success” in mission and ministry comes only one way: faithfulness to Jesus—a faithfulness informed by prayer and Scripture by which the Spirit leads us into truth. But note that we don’t learn this truth instantaneously, and inactivity can hinder our progress. I wonder if, perhaps, this inactivity comes from a fear of truth. Jesus often predicted his death and resurrection to his disciples, and fearing this truth, they were, at times, frozen in inactivity. So it often is in our day.

Appearance on the Mountain in Galilee (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

When we talk about participating with Jesus in reaching out to unchurched people, it’s easy to react with fear. But we need not fear, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV). Trusting in Jesus and his Word calms our fears. Indeed, faith is the enemy of fear. That’s why Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36 ESV). When, in faith, we actively engage in Jesus’ mission and ministry, we are not alone. We have the Lord of all creation with us, just as Jesus promised long ago on the mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16) where, shortly before his ascension, he gave his disciples the instructions we commonly call The Great Commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice the “bookends” here. Jesus begins by stating that he is in possession of “all authority in heaven and on earth,” then concludes with these words of assurance: “I am with you always.” These statements should be a source of great comfort, confidence and freedom to us as we go about doing what Jesus commanded: make disciples. We do so with boldness knowing that we are participating with the One who has all power and authority. And we do so with confidence knowing that he is always with us.

With these thoughts in mind, rather than seeing patience as inactivity, we will wait patiently on the Lord while actively participating with him in what he is doing to make disciples in our communities. In that way we will be practicing what we might call active patience. Doing so is Jesus’ command to us because it is his way—the way of faithfulness that bears the fruit of his ever-present kingdom.

Actively patient with you,
Joseph Tkach

Intern & Pastoral Resident Orientation

This report is from Jeff McSwain, National Coordinator of the GCI-USA Ministry Development Team.

A group of us recently met in Durham, North Carolina, for GCI’s third annual Orientation for U.S. Interns and Pastoral Residents. In addition to these young emerging leaders, Orientation participants (pictured below) included sponsoring pastors, coaches and various members of GCI’s Church Administration and Development (CAD) team.

Group Photo (all)


The women and men participating in the GCI-USA Intern Program are given a chance to explore vocational options in a two-year-long Christian discipleship program that combines higher biblical-theological education with hands-on, practical ministry leadership experience. Instead of spending hours on administrative tasks or other pastoral duties such as preparing sermons and doing hospital visits, our Interns spend their time “outside the walls” of our churches, engaging with their communities through some sort of outreach-centered ministry expression.

Pastoral Residents

Those serving as Pastoral Residents (apprentice pastors) have either graduated from the Intern Program or come to us with extensive ministry experience. Other than age and experience, the Pastoral Residents are just a step away from being assistant pastors, senior pastors or church planters. A pastoral residency is a time when these women and men shadow an experienced senior pastor, doing the things and learning the patterns that are typical in the life of a pastoral minister.

Andy Rooney

JillianI’m thrilled to report that after two years of vocational exploration in our first class of Interns, Jillian Caranto and Andy Rooney (pictured at right) have felt led to pursue the next step, which is to serve as Pastoral Residents. We congratulate them both!

Comments and pictures

The time we experienced together in Durham was truly rich. It was a blessing to hear first-time attendee Lauren Reierson say she felt rejuvenated and loved—ready to get out and engage with her community. That’s what we were shooting for! Following are additional comments and pictures from our 2016 Orientation.

From the inspiring worship, to the intimate breakouts, to the laughs during meals, the 2016 Orientation was unlike any of the others I’ve attended. There is a newfound level of spiritual rapport and healthy camaraderie between the Interns and Pastoral Residents, which is only a taste of what the Holy Spirit is doing for the future of GCI and its young leaders! (Jillian Caranto, Pastoral Resident with Pastor Bermie Dizon)


I’ve been taught to look at the kingdom of God as “already-not yet,” but it often seems a lot more “not yet” than “already.” That wasn’t true at Orientation! It was so encouraging to be immediately loved and accepted by such an incredible group of people. (Justin Cole, 1st year Intern with Regional Pastor Randy Bloom)


It was great to be able to dig into the theology of GCI a little more, and to ask questions and get a better general understanding. The most impactful thing for me was the experience of authentic community. I’ve always been aware of the inclusive community that GCI fosters, but it still astounds me every time how amazingly loving and accepting we are. In a moment when I was truly afraid and deeply doubting God’s calling for me, my community, my family, immediately surrounded me. It showed me that I’m not called on my own. God, through his Holy Spirit, is with me AND doing the work for me! It also showed me that God has blessed me with an incredible community who will have my back and point me back to Jesus when I am afraid. (Xiara Lee, 1st year Intern with Pastor Tim Brassell)


It was a unique experience of learning about the Intern Program through deep fellowship, theological engagement and seeing awe-inspiring examples of those theological commitments lived out in the Durham area. It was challenging, fun and moving. (Eddie Lowe, 2nd year Intern with Pastor Dishon Mills)


Getting together with my GCI brothers and sisters under the banner of Jesus was amazing! Our future as a denomination is so bright! There was so much love there! (Ceeja Malmkar, Pastoral Resident with Pastor Mike Rasmussen)


The young adults involved reveal a bright future for GCI. They truly are sold-out for the Trinitarian theology described in Scripture and will no doubt gain (and teach) a much deeper understanding of this Good News as time goes on. What a gift! (Associate Pastor Mike Urmie)

Momentum building

At this Orientation I saw powerful, Holy Spirit momentum building in the ranks of our younger generations. My friend Greg Williams, Director of our CAD team, saw it too. Here are his reflections on the 2016 Orientation:

I was overwhelmed by the variety, depth, personalities, talents and passion of these young women and men. They expressed deep love for the Lord and deep bonding with one another. They are so smart—it’s almost intimidating—yet they are personable and fun-loving. GCI is blessed to have these young people in our circle of trust and love. I invite the churches who host them to make space in their hearts and ministries to allow them to grow and shine. Our Interns and Pastoral Residents are a huge part of the renewal movement happening within GCI. Thank you Holy Spirit for joining them with us!


On to GCnext

GCnext is about planting seeds for GCI’s next generation. Toward that end, we will be holding a GC Next gathering in Durham over the upcoming Martin Luther King holiday weekend (January 13-16, 2017). The event, which will gather 18-28 year-olds from across our GCI nation, is led by Andy Rooney and our other Pastoral Residents. Many of us sense that it will be another pivotal moment in the development of future GCI leaders. Click here for additional information, including registration.

We want to express our thanks to the congregations that are financially supporting our Intern and Pastoral Resident Programs through donations to our GCnext fund. The fund also supports the GCnext work of Generations Ministries and Church Multiplication Ministries. If your congregation would like to join in, click here to learn about the fund, which advances our GCnext vision and mission.

GCnext logo

SoCal churches gather

Recently, three of GCI’s Southern California congregations—New Covenant, New Hope and NewLife—gathered at a park in Arcadia for what Pastor Bermie Dizon described as “a great reunion of three congregations coming together for worship and a picnic.” Here are video highlights:

On Vimeo.

Productivity tips for pastors

Because a pastor’s work is never done, it’s important that they manage their time well. For some assistance, click here.


Recent ordinations

Here is a list of recent ordinations. Congratulations to the new elders, their families and churches!

  • ordinationMichael Guibord, Mt. Sterling, KY
  • Kenneth Pinnix, Jacksonville, FL
  • Lenrose White, St. Louis, MO
  • Rachel Nhlapo, Mondeor, South Africa
  • Aaron Ng’ambi, Kitwe, Zambia
  • David Kachimwa, Kaoma, Zambia
  • Thomson Zuze, Kabompo, Zambia
  • Christopher Simbeye, Mpika, Zambia
  • Kennedy Musopelo, Lusaka, Zambia
  • André Nimpagaritse, Nyabungeri, Burundi
  • Fabrice Habonimana, Mushanga, Burundi
  • Nestor Niyongabo, Buhindo, Burundi
  • Samuel Mbanye, Rugombo, Burundi
  • Eric-Aimé Nindengera, Carama, Burundi
  • Damascene Nyandwi, Cuzwe, Burundi
  • Gordien Muhigigwa, Nyenzi, Burundi
  • Six leaders from Malawi were ordained elders at a recent combined service in the city of Blantyre. Here are their pictures (top to bottom, left to right): Rodrick Mwatchipa, Jacob Stonad Kazembe, Blessings Ngwira, Alexander Mambiya, Hastings Kachali and Kasandi Ngubulwa).


Free webinar: caring for LGBT persons


The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), of which GCI is a member in the U.S., will be conducting a webinar on September 20 at 2:00pm (EST), titled Pastoral Care of LGBT Persons and Their FamiliesThe presenter will be Christian psychologist Dr. Mark Yarhouse, author of “Understanding Gender Dysphoria” and founder of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University (click here for his bio, and here for a paper he authored).

Normally, the webinar costs $25, but NAE is making it available to GCI folks at no cost. To gain access to the webinar, register by clicking here. Space is limited, so sign up soon.