“We Are GCI,” leadership equipping

Effective leaders are good communicators. To grow in that vital competency, it’s important to understand one’s own leadership voice and the voices of others on the leadership team. To help us do that, the upcoming GCI Denominational Conference in Orlando will have plenary and breakout sessions with Dr. Tom Nebel of GiANT Worldwide. To learn more about what he will teach, click here. For additional information about the conference and to get registered, click here.

Tom Nebel

Tom has served as a church planter, pastor and Director of Multiplication for Converge Worldwide, where he helped start over 800 new churches across the globe. For the last three years, he has served as a Senior Associate with GiANT Worldwide, a leadership consultancy that “builds leaders worth following who lead organizations everyone wants to work for.” GiANT believes the best leaders are secure, humble, and confident: David not Goliath. Tom is recognized as an engaging biblical communicator and effective coach of those seeking to increase their personal, team and organizational capacities. He specializes in recognizing and removing the obstacles standing in the way of success.

GiANT’s leadership tools are highlighted in two GCI Equipper articles:

Conference in Mexico

This update is from Heber Ticas, ecclesiastical supervisor of GCI’s congregations in Mexico.

Over the Easter weekend (April 14–16), GCI Mexico held its annual conference for pastors and other congregational leaders in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was a great time of fellowship, worship, renewal and learning. Dr. Joseph Tkach was the keynote speaker and those in attendance were inspired as he shared the good things the Lord is doing in our fellowship around the world.

Throughout the weekend, various teaching sessions were offered. Lorenzo Arroyo gave a workshop on the different models of the doctrine of salvation, emphasizing GCI’s incarnational Trinitarian theology. Heber Ticas gave a series of workshops challenging pastors and others to lead their congregations through four avenues (phases) leading to becoming a fully missional church: 1) developing a missionary mentality, 2) missional development, 3) experiencing missional movement, and 4) being a church fully engaged in missional rhythms. Xochilt Ticas (Heber’s wife) gave a workshop for women on forgiveness, including the important role of forgiveness in the life of a congregation.

Lorenzo Arroyo
Women’s workshop with Xochilt Ticas

The highlight of the conference was Dr. Tkach’s Easter Sunday sermon on the resurrection, and the ordination of Jose Luis Seba who started a small group in Tlaxcala Mexico a few years back that has blossomed into a full church.

Ordination ceremony (L to R): Heber Ticas, Joseph Tkach, Jose Luis Seba and Alfredo Mercado (Jose’s wife is standing behind Alfredo)

Overall, the conference was a great encouragement to GCI’s congregations in Mexico. Please pray for them, asking God to bless the work he is doing in and through them in the nation of Mexico.

We send heartfelt thanks to our brothers and sisters in Canada and the United States for the financial assistance that made this conference possible.

Baptisms at Hands for Christ

We are pleased to announce that Hands for Christ (GCI’s congregation for the deaf in Staten Island, NY) baptized seven people on April 15. Lead Pastor Mary Bachelor reports that “it was a glorious event—all seven were filled with joy and graciousness.” Five of the newly baptized are deaf and two are hearing. As Mary noted, “All were thankful to have the opportunity to proclaim their commitment, faith, love and relationship with Jesus Christ. It was an honor to baptize these people into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Here are pictures of the blessed event:

(Back, L to R): Louis D’Amico (member assisting), Paulette A. Gabel, Cynthia L. Gabel, Debra Guercio, Anne Marie Milcznski, Mary Bachelor (Lead Pastor), Diana O’Shea, Lydia Atkins (front): Linda Louis Browne

Ingrid Mandel

Thanks for praying for Ingrid Mandel (click here for the previous prayer request) Her husband, retired GCI pastor Willi Mandel, notified us that Ingrid was able to get the hip surgery that she badly needed.  The doctor was able to fit her in before he left on vacation.

Ingrid and Willi are thankful for all the prayers that were requested and answered on their behalf. Please now pray for Ingrid’s successful and rapid recovery.

Cards may be sent to:

Ingrid Mandel
747 Tanner Drive
Kingston, ON K7M 9G7

Andrew Silcox

Please pray for retired GCI pastor, Andrew Silcox who is in a hospital in France near where he and his wife Dana live. Andrew is being treated in the Intensive Care Unit for severe blood poisoning. Due to his Type II Diabetes, and a recent surgery for a triple fracture on his foot, Andrew is in a dangerous condition. He is not conscious at present, being held on dialysis and monitoring so further surgery can take place if required. He is in the hands of one of the best surgeons in Europe who did the original surgery. The family would be deeply thankful for four things:

  1. Prayers for the medical team’s managing all aspects of the threat to his well-being. They have an enormous task and everything they learn from this will help the next person.
  2. Prayers for the family that is spread around the world.
  3. Prayers that, if at all possible, both the foot injury and the blood poisoning and their resultant effects to his vital organs will have the healing touch of the Masters hands.
  4. Privacy, with the very strong qualification that Dana is able to play sound messages to Andrew in the ICU. Though he is not conscious, it is evident that these message help him fight on mentally. Voice messages can be emailed to bensilcox@gmail.com.

Worshipping God with music

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Joseph and Tammy Tkach
Joseph and Tammy Tkach

According to Holiday Insights, this week is National Karaoke Week. Perhaps you’ve heard someone singing karaoke and reflexively flinched at their off-key notes. Nietzsche had it right when he wrote, “We listen to music with our muscles.” Our unconscious bodily responses to music include tapping our feet or swaying to the rhythm. I found myself doing both during the singing at the Easter-weekend conference of our Mexican churches in Guadalajara, Mexico. Because we were singing in Spanish, the music was particularly stirring for me. I was also moved by the wonderful Mariachi worship band with its two trumpets, five violins and four guitars of various sizes. One song began with a trumpet blast so rousing we all felt like marching forward!

Neurologist Oliver Sacks had it right when he wrote, “Listening to music is not just auditory, it is motoric as well.” According to neurological studies, music has the ability to activate entire regions and networks within the brain. This is one reason music is used in several rehabilitative therapies. As the old saying goes, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

It’s important to think about the impact that music has in our worship of God. We don’t sing in church to just fill the time, or as a mere warm-up to the sermon. Worship music (instrumental and vocal) has played a significant role in the worship of the church down through the centuries. Music has been, is, and for eternity will be a principal way the people of God worship their Lord and Savior.

After escaping Egypt by crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites sang to the Lord (Exodus 15:1-21). Music was a central part of Israel’s worship in the tabernacle and the temple (1 Chronicles 6:31-32, 16:42). The Psalms preserve lyrics to some of that music—some joyful, some sorrowful (blues is not only a modern musical genre!). Jesus and his disciples sang hymns (Matthew 26:30) and the book of Revelation tells of a day when “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them” will sing praises to the Lamb of God seated on his throne (Revelation 5:13). As Karl Barth noted, singing is an essential ministry of the church:

The Christian church sings. It is not a choral society. Its singing is not a concert. But from inner, material necessity it sings. Singing is the highest form of human expression…. What we can and must say quite confidently is that the church which does not sing is not the church. And where… it does not really sing but sighs and mumbles spasmodically, shamefacedly and with an ill grace, it can be at best only a troubled community which is not sure of its cause and of whose ministry and witness there can be no great expectation…. The praise of God which finds its concrete culmination in the singing of the community is one of the indispensable forms of the ministry of the church. (Church Dogmatics, IV.3, 16.72)

When we play instrumental music or sing in church, our audience is first the Lord (Psalm 96:1) then, secondarily, one another. Our singing seems best when it is expressive of a sense of awe and wonder at the presence of God. By directing our attention beyond the music itself to the One whom we worship, music leads our thoughts toward God rather than toward ourselves. John Calvin commented about the energy we obtain from music in worship when he wrote this:

[Music] lends dignity and grace to sacred actions and has the greatest value in kindling our heart to a true zeal and eagerness to pray. (Calvin, Institutes, III. 20, #32)

There is something very special that we feel when our hymns and choruses correlate with the biblical texts being verbalized in the Scripture reading and expounded in the sermon. It is as if our hearts are lifted, and we soar like eagles. That’s how I felt in Guadalajara over Easter, and it’s how I feel when I join the people of God in various places around the world as we lift our voices in song to worship the triune God, Father, Son and Spirit.

Holiday Insights also says that April 26 is Hug an Australian Day. So in the spirit of that holiday, I extend to all our Aussie members (and to all our members everywhere) this ancient priestly blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Joseph Tkach

PS: Warm greetings to you all from our members in Mexico! For more about the conference, click here.

New Home Office purchased

God has answered our prayers! On April 20, we finalized purchase of the office building shown below. Sometime next year, we’ll move GCI’s denominational Home Office from Glendora, CA, to this building located in the Charlotte, NC, area. Thanks for your prayers concerning the search and purchase process. Please now pray about the logistics involved in the move.

Concerning the purchase process, GCI Treasurer Mat Morgan shared this:

It just felt blessed! I felt the Holy Spirit’s guiding hand from start to finish. The closing process took only 30 days—a speed seldom accomplished in commercial real estate. The seller went above and beyond in assisting us. He stayed with our team late into the night to help us both understand and then transfer building systems and contracts. God’s hand was in it all—I think he wanted us to connect with the previous owner, and so we have.

Changes to GCI’s website hosting

This announcement from GCI IT Manager Bret Miller, is a reminder about the changes announced in December 2016 concerning GCI’s website hosting services being discontinued in mid-2017.

We currently provide website hosting and support for many GCI churches, camps and other ministries. We believe that a more efficient, consistent and secure way to maintain these sites is to have local entities work directly with a web hosting company. This avoids a middle layer of support that can sometimes delay service if Home Office staff is not available. Web hosting companies are well-equipped to upgrade, monitor and maintain security on the hosted sites in a consistent and cost-effective manner, without the necessity of technical direction from GCI.

Therefore, our central web hosting services will be discontinued by mid-2017. Please start now to evaluate the options available for your local website(s). Because 2017 will be a very busy year for the Home Office staff as we prepare for our Denominational Conference in August and the pending Home Office relocation, the sooner you move your site to a hosting service, the more likely we will be able to help you with that move.

The most common question we are receiving at the Home Office is whether we have a recommendation. We are recommending DreamHost “Happy Hosting” shared hosting for U.S. churches and camps because it’s a fairly simple process to apply for it, and the hosting itself is free for non-profits. The local church or camp will need a new domain name if you are using one of our domains (__.wcgweb.org, __.gcichurches.org, or __.gci.church). That currently runs $12.95 per year at DreamHost. Some of you already have your own. Registering it there simplifies the setup and renewal so that’s what we recommend though you can register it separately if you wish. Here’s how it works:

  1. Contact our legal office (legal.office@gci.org) to ask for our 501(c)(3) letter and a statement saying your church is covered by our group exemption. You’ll need both in PDF.
  2. Sign up with DreamHost for shared hosting and your domain name. Note that you can use the option to “do this later” if you already have a domain name. This will require a credit/debit card.
  3. Submit a support request to DreamHost asking for non-profit hosting and attach the two PDF documents to the request.
  4. Wait for them to approve it. At this point, they will also refund the cost of the hosting plan.

Once you have the free hosting, we’ll be happy to help you move the website, or move it for you, as our time permits.

We have been a DreamHost customer for many years and while they’ve had ups and downs, so have all the hosting companies we’ve dealt with. They have served us well, and that’s why they earned our recommendation. There are cheaper options out there if you don’t qualify as a U.S. nonprofit organization.

Note: DreamHost offers a managed WordPress service called DreamPress. Other website hosts also tend to offer similar services. We have NOT had any success moving a WordPress website hosted with GCI to any of these services. Therefore, we would strongly recommend moving it first to simple shared hosting and then if you want to pay for the upgraded service, let your website hosting company do the migration into their upgraded service. We do not believe the upgraded service is necessary for most church or camp websites.

As for the “template” we announced, that will be for WordPress and probably won’t be available until August or September at the earliest. For websites running on WordPress, it should be fairly easy to install the new “theme” as WordPress calls it and activate it to get the new look without much change to the content.