Reflections on a Community Bible Experience
What happens when a ministry team engages God’s story together? Recently, the staff team of the Midwest Conference found out firsthand!
At the annual staff retreat, Superintendent Tammy Swanson-Draheim invited Lori Anderson, Brian Johnson, Brandi Kejr and Brent Thompson to read through the book of Acts. Over a 24-hour
period, the team participated in four separate sessions. Each session consisted of reading individually, reflecting in silence and coming together for sharing and reflections.
By all accounts it was a fruitful time of drawing closer to God and to one another, and it was a fresh reminder of the adventure of God’s great mission:
Communal reading of God’s story is fascinating. The combination of God’s truth, the Spirit’s illumination, and individual perspectives revealed unique insights and blind spots. I came away more excited about the Kingdom and more united with my partners in ministry.
– Brent Thompson
A fresh, simple, and engaging way to experience God's Word in community. –
It’s fascinating that the same text can read so differently for each of us. I had the privilege of getting to know our team on a deeper level as their individual passions, strengths and questions came out in their reflections on God’s story.
– Brandi Kejr
Reading and praying through the book of Acts as a team reminded us of how messy and adventurous it is to be part of God’s mission. We were encouraged and challenged both individually and as a team. –
Reading the book of Acts as a story and absorbing myself into Scripture was so much fun! Reflecting and then engaging together on a deeper level was extremely meaningful. Drawing nearer to God and this ministry team is such a blessing. –
Everyone Wins When a Leader Gets Better
Dylan Curtis, Communications Director, Crossroads Church, Loveland, CO
Trust what God has put into you and run after it with all your heart.
– Jossy Chacko, Founder of Empart
The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) has a simple philosophy—everyone wins when a leader gets better.
Every year, world-class speakers impart wisdom about how all leaders can improve their leadership. From simple ideas to complex theories, there is something to be learned by every attendee.
The GLS was started by the Willow Creek Association in 1992. As of 2016, the GLS is available in 125 countries and translated into 59 languages. One of the most impactful aspects of the GLS is the crossover between the business and church realm. Leaders this year included Bill Hybels, Melinda Gates, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Jossy Chacko, Patrick Lencioni and more. Each speaker is at the leading edge of their field, presenting fresh strategic insights.
Crossroads Church Children’s Director Kaye Mason said about the GLS, “Every year I look forward to attending the GLS because I know God uses this time to increase my knowledge as a leader. He refreshes me and realigns my heart and mind to think beyond current circumstances to greater possibilities.
This year, Crossroads Church in Loveland, CO, was a satellite host site for the eighth consecutive year. Nearly 700 local leaders were in attendance, including 171 leaders from 5 Covenant churches. Clay Peck, Lead Pastor of Grace Place, said after the conclusion of the GLS, “We took over 50 staff and ministry leaders from Grace Place to the Global Leadership Summit. We’ve been attending every year for two decades because of the quality and practical leadership development. It provides us with concepts and vocabulary that we process together for the rest of the year. There is no other conference like it!”
Like Peck, the leadership team at Crossroads was greatly impacted by the experience. In an effort to focus the entirety of church staff, the leadership team decided to implement Chris McChesney’s concept of “wildly important goals” from his book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution.
Associate Pastor Katie Martinez said, “This is an important method for achieving an all-staff goal in the upcoming ministry season [. . . ] These ‘wildly import goals’ will help lead to the success of the entire staff.”
No matter where you are or what you lead, the GLS offers opportunities for each individual to become a better leader. As churches, it offers a look into other fields that can provide a broader understanding of leadership. Through this learning experience leaders sharpen their skills, which leads to greater impact in the church and larger community. As a result, everyone wins when a leader gets better.
If you are interested in hosting the Global Leadership Summit at your church in 2017, contact Dennis Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can make a connection.
Walking Alongside our Refugee Sisters and Brothers (cont.)
Below is the third installment of our series highlighting a few of the MWC churches serving and partnering with refugee populations in their communities.
Planting Seeds of Transformation
Nate Severson, Associate Pastor of Children and Youth, Hillcrest Covenant, Priaire Village, KS
This past July, I had the privilege to serve on an intergenerational missions team made up of teenagers through senior adults from Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village, KS. Our time was spent in Athens, Greece, working with refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran who had been displaced from their countries due to war or terrorism.
If you were to ask anyone from our group about our time in Athens, we would more than likely tell you it was one of the most life-giving but difficult experiences of our life. It was life-changing because of the powerful ways we saw God move in our midst. Couple that with the deep and lasting friendships we made with our brothers and sisters from a culture that is very different from our own. It was difficult because of the painful and unimaginable stories we heard over and over again, and many of the people were in situations that seemed hopeless.
Much of our time was spent at the Port of Piraeus where thousands of refugees lived in makeshift tent communities underneath a large cement bridge they called "home." When at the port, it wouldn't take long before we were invited into one of the tent communities for conversation and chai. Our hosts encouraged us to ask the people to share their stories. Oftentimes through hearing people’s stories we would get a chance to share ours. Thankfully, God used our stories to create opportunity to share our love and passion for Jesus, answer questions people had about the Bible and even share in a couple of Bible studies together. After our last Bible study, I asked my friend Raffe (a successful engineer before fleeing Afghanistan) what he thought about the time our team spent with him. He said, "Your group [and others who had gone before us] has made us feel like we are humans again. You also showed us how Jesus would live his life if he were alive today . . . now we want to learn more about Jesus and live like Jesus lived."
Since returning to Kansas, our prayer is that God would use the seeds that were planted to bring about transformation that can only be attributed to Him! We are also praying and believing that because of this transformation revival will break out in Europe through the transformed lives of the refugees, turning what Satan meant for evil into something that God uses
for good. As a result of our trip, God has opened an opportunity to actively engage local Syrian refugees in our own community. We will be hosting an event next month to promote local engagement with refugees. Our hope is to engage in life-on-life discipleship with local Syrian refugees on a monthly basis.
Contact email@example.com to share what your church is doing to partner with refugee groups in your area!
A Conversation on Race
Join us for a conversation/workshop with Robert Owens, Superintendent of the Covenant's Southeast Conference, where we will talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, historical and biblical perspectives on race and how we as a church are called to respond to race and violence. Co-sponsored by Bethlehem Covenant Church and the Midwest Conference. Please share this flyer
with your congregation.
October 6, 2016
Bethlehem Covenant Church, Waverly, NE
1:30-4:30 pm - Workshop for pastors/ministry staff*
6:30-8:30 pm - Service open to all pastors and Covenant congregations - Q&A to follow
*Dinner will be provided for pastors/ministry staff following the afternoon workshop. RSVP to Dan Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (402) 785-5685 by Oct 5.
Resonate Returns Young Adult Discipleship to the Midwest Conference
August 27, 2016, was an incredible day in the life of Covenant Cedars Bible Camp. Over two years of development and construction culminated in the completion of the new building and the launch of the Resonate Discipleship Experience
! The inaugural class of eight students, their families and many others were in attendance at the dedication service. We had a wonderful celebration of God's faithfulness and provision.
The program, which is a restored version of Covenant Bible College, has been years in the making. Much prayer, many hands and generous donors have been instrumental in bringing this ministry to life.
Please continue to pray for and support what God is doing through Resonate. Learn more here
or stop by if you are in the area!
Did you know...?
A lot is happening in the Midwest Conference. Catch up on recent changes and events below!
Mark and Lisa Habluetzel welcomed daughter Greta Faith on September 9. Mark has been ordained through the Covenant and is currently participating in a chaplaincy training program at Wesley Hospital in Wichita. Congratulations on your newest addition, Habluetzel family!
We rejoice in the recent installations of the following pastors:
- Elyse Thornburg, Pastor of Connections, LifeSpring Covenant, Loveland, CO - August 14
- Brian Wright, Pastor of Christian Formation, LifeSpring Covenant, Loveland, CO - August 14
- Kyle Kachelmeier, Lead Pastor, The Journey, Wichita, KS - September 4
- Greg Applequiest, Lead Pastor, First Covenant, Omaha, NE - September 18
Jeremy Bower will join the staff of Countryside Covenant Church in McPherson, KS, as Associate Pastor in mid-October. Jeremy and his family come to us from the Northwest Conference. Welcome, Jeremy!
Erik and Vannae Savig joined the staff of Council Tree Covenant Church in Ft. Collins, CO, in late August. Erik serves as the Community Supported Agriculture Ministry Coordinator, and Vannae serves as the Connections Pastor. Welcome, Erik and Vannae!
Retired pastor Dolan Rundquist passed away on Monday, September 26. Dolan served several Covenant churches in the Midwest Conference throughout his ministry.
Do you have big news to share? Contact email@example.com to have your important event published in the e-News.
Thank you to those who volunteer their time to serve on the MWC Executive
Position on board:
Member at large
Deerbrook Covenant, Lee's Summit, MO
What do you enjoy most about serving on the Executive Board?
I enjoy hearing what God is doing in Covenant churches around our region.
Where are you sensing God’s leading in the MWC?
I’m excited to see the emphasis on intentional discipleship and was encouraged to hear from Michelle Sanchez at the last board meeting and how she is helping to lead the Covenant denomination into being more intentional in making disciples. I’m also excited to see the Community Bible Experience kicking off this September, and my church is joining in with this, as well.
In what ministries do you serve in your local church?
Finance Team, Church Vitality Team, small group ministries, men’s ministries
Tell us about your family.
My family recently spent five years in Cameroon serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators and we continue to serve with Wycliffe from the United States. I’ve been married 17 years to my wife DeAnna and we have two boys, Joshua and Jonah, ages 13 and 11.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading The Fi5th Gospel
by Bobby Conway and AWS System Administration
by Mike Ryan.
What is your favorite Bible story and why?
There are many, but Luke 9:10-17 where Jesus feeds the 5000 from five loaves of bread and two fish. This was the first sermon I heard in French when I was in language school and I was able to follow along in my new La Bible (French translation) and was able to understand enough of what he was saying that what seemed impossible to the disciples, feeding 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, was totally possible with Jesus Christ. Though learning French seemed like an impossible task at the time, God took the five verbs and two adjectives that I knew and multiplied them to where I could communicate. I always think back to this sermon and illustration when I read or hear this in the Bible.
Churches working together to transform lives and communities by starting new churches, strengthening existing churches and developing missional leaders.