THE GREATEST OF ALL HINGE MOMENTS

Near the end of our recent All Peoples East Gathering in Charlotte, a man got up and made a presentation about hinge moments. Do you know what a hinge moment is?

Using a case study from a church in Birmingham, Alabama this man taught us about hinge moments. Though not an EFCA congregation, the church he spoke of was from another solid evangelical denomination. It was located in the center of what is now referred to as the Civil Rights District. Having started in the 1920’s by a pastor who was a transplant from California, the church initially had a profound impact in the community.

In addition to leading many people to Christ, they had a soup kitchen to help feed the poor, they had launched their own radio station and even opened a bible college. Incredibly, they had done this work in Birmingham with both white and black people. Imagine that for a minute – integrated ministry in Birmingham before the civil rights movement! God was clearly doing a beautiful work.

Then, in 1953, the founding pastor had some “friends” reach out to advise him he was about to encounter some really tough times with the a growing civil rights movement. They suggested someone with his talents and skills should consider taking his talents elsewhere…kinda like the pastoral version of when Lebron James took his to Miami. So off he went to another church far away from Birmingham.

Looking back on the history of the church, people say that it was like a spirit of fear came over him. Consequently, the same thing happened to the church. Whereas they had boldly ministered to both black and white people with great impact, the next couple of pastors and leaders gave into fear and eventually stopped trying altogether.

One Sunday morning, Martin Luther King and about 30 others from his movement showed up at the front door of the church. The pastor and others showed Dr. King and his friends their guns and told them they weren’t welcome.

That was a hinge moment. It was the defining moment when the people in the church openly and brazenly allowed the spirit of the age to be more compelling to them than the Spirit of Christ. For decades following this moment, the ministry suffered. Their weekly attendance dwindled from 1500 to 70, the building became dilapidated, and their witness in the community to both whites and blacks was lost. Everything measurable seemed to cry, “Ichabod!”

Then, in the mid 2000’s, a pastor came who had a heart to do ministry for God’s glory among all the people groups in the community. Slowly, things improved, but it just seemed to be such a grind that the pastor brought in an outside ministry to consult them to see what they could do to get over this invisible hump. The pastor and other leaders refused to accept that God was finished with this church.

Together, the church leaders and the para-church organization did a historic survey of the church and discovered the terrible event with Dr. King. They agreed that this was indeed a hinge moment. The departure of the pastor in 1953 had begun a downward trend, but that moment with Dr. King needed to be repented for thoroughly and publicly.

The pastor and leaders called for a solemn assembly and repented corporately for the church’s sinful past. Then they wrote an article that was published in the two leading papers in the city. The letter was an expression of open and heartfelt repentance. Additionally, they contacted individuals and businesses in order to make things right with them. They repented for allowing the spirit of fear to control the ministry. This repentance was another hinge moment.

Today they are once again doing effective ministry in their community. They minister in a way that glorifies Christ with all kinds of people. This no longer means just white and black people, but immigrants and refugees, as well as to members of the LGBTQ community. The church stands as an incredible testimony to the power of God and of repentance that time and space won’t allow for here. 

The point of this post is this… hinge moments are those rare moments in life and ministry when things essentially change. Directions are changed. Moods and outlooks are different than they were before. 

Hinge moments are real and they are sometimes necessary.

We are in a season right now where the greatest of all hinge moments is remembered – Christmas. Looking back on history, that moment changed everything.

Maybe you need to slowly study your your ministry for past hinge moments? Maybe its time for a new hinge moment?

What is true for ministry is also true for us as people. We all have hinge moments in our lives. Maybe we need some new ones?

If nothing else, thank God for the hinge moment of our Lord’s incarnation and our salvation.

Blessings.

BUILDING A LEADERSHIP PIPELINE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

The chair was oversized, soft and the perfect place for a late afternoon nap. With kids running around the living room and dinner preparations clanging in the kitchen, he slipped into blissful slumber. We watched in amazement as he slept through all the commotion. Nothing could wake him.

Without warning the incredibly annoying alarm vibrated the entire condo signaling the dryer was finished. It was as if that wonderful comfy chair transformed into the electric chair. The sweet slumber instantly turned into wide-eyed panic. Jolted, his arms flailing, feet running but not yet on the ground, the alarm sent my friend into a flurry to save himself, and our vacationing families, from certain peril. The memory still produces side splitting laughter to this day.

I occasionally find myself in similar situations, but it has nothing to do with sleep. The daily routines, the regular commotion of life and the endless to-do lists swirl around enough to keep me, and probably everyone on occasion, from being aware of some underlying issues that need attention.

It often takes an alarm to jolt us into paying attention to something important. This is true for organizations as well as individuals.

In the EFCA, we had a recent alarm that sounded in the form of some research stating the average age of our Senior Pastors is 55 years old and the we have an increasingly aging missionary force here and around the world.

While we thank God for these faithful servants, this discovery left us with some very important questions for our movement. Where are our young leaders? Who is going to take the place of our retiring leaders when they are done? What are we proactively doing to mobilize the next generation?

The alarm is sounding in the EFCA!

This alarm is why I’m giving the next season of my life in ministry to Apex.

Apex serves the local church by mobilizing emerging leaders who advance the Gospel from here to everywhere. Our experiences in cities all over the world provide the context for Gospel Fluency to see and speak the Gospel in all of life. We exist to provide a variety of training experiences and missions opportunities to young people in order that they might glorify God and build His kingdom with their lives.

It is our clear directive to be a leadership development pipeline from middle school beyond college graduation providing the clear and reachable next step for each participant’s faith journey. So many young people are being asked what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. We believe that if we can motivate and train for next week it will set the direction for the rest of their lives. It’s our deep desire to build an environment where young people are inspired to give their best to building the kingdom of God right now. We want to see a generation of servant leaders introducing their peers to Jesus and that starts the moment they return home.   

Apex is doing its part to answer the alarm bell. We are proactively working with churches to mobilize the next generation. It would be our privilege to partner with you as you seek to leverage every part of your ministry to help students be disciples who make disciples.

If you have any questions or want to get more information on who we are and what we do please visit our website where you will find more in-depth descriptions of our experiences and contact information. 

 

David and Shawna Boerema serve as US Project Directors for Apex. For 20 years they have served in local church student ministry and are passionate about helping students take the next steps in their walk with Jesus. David also serves as the Associate Director of ReachStudents for the EFCA’s Eastern District. Dvid and Shawna live in Central Pennsylvania with their two boys and love to be outdoors, travel and appreciate a cup of finely crafted coffee.

david.boerema@efca.org  –  Shawna.boerema@efca.org

 

7 REASONS TO BRING BACK THE INVITATION

I believe an invitation for people to respond to the preacher’s message should be given every time the Word is preached in a corporate gathering.

From personal observation and from what I’m reading lately, it seems to me that a growing number of pastors disagree with me. Here’s a recent blog that exemplifies this ongoing conversation. I think this is a good, healthy conversation.

To be clear, while I am advocating for consistent invitations, I’m not suggesting that pastors extend a heavy, evangelistic, “walk-the-aisle” invitation every service. Invitations can and should be about more than just conversion.

I’m also not suggesting that “come forward to the altar” invitations are the only acceptable method. Many churches use response cards effectively as a means of responding. Others invite people go to a designated area, like a welcome center or a prayer tent. Lots of churches dismiss the congregation and then have prayer counselors placed in various locations throughout the worship center to pray with people before they leave.

Many ways exist for people to respond other than the “come forward to the altar” method. But my argument is this – pastors should prepare every single public worship service and sermon with an invitation for people to receive Christ or draw closer to Him and His plan. This should be more than occasional and should certainly not be neglected or rejected. If life change is the point of our preaching and worship, then we ought to help them along on their next steps.

Here are seven reasons why I believe pastors should give consistent invitations:

  1. Because biblically speaking, God called people to make decisions about what to do with His word over and over in the Bible. Some messages are against sin and for God. In those moments I believe invitations are very helpful. Many messages are less dramatic, of course, but calling people to live obediently by faith and to receive His grace afresh is always a good call.
  2. Because the invitation is itself an opportunity for pastors to model for members how to have a humble, spiritual conversation with people. It transitions from teaching to specific application.
  3. Because when people respond it gives intercessors the opportunity to pray with people who need prayer now! People should be able to leave church prayed for, not just preached to.
  4. Because the response to the invitation gives shepherds/counselors an opportunity to care for people who need help.
  5. Because by preparing a message with an invitation to respond in mind, the preacher remembers to preach with clarity and for transformation.
  6. Because in our fast-paced, digital world people need some old-fashioned personal interaction. A call to respond in some way is a nudge in that direction.
  7. Lastly, because it’s rude not to give people the opportunity to taste and see that the Lord is good. For someone to come to church and hear a message about the glories of Christ and not be told how to experience His goodness is just bad form. If you invite someone over for dinner, you don’t invite them to smell, listen and look at the good food – you invite them to eat!

TIME FOR SHARPENING

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

This verse speaks to an important principle: leaders NEED other leaders to speak with and do life with in order to keep growing. 

With that in mind, I want to invite you into two things that I believe may give you a fresh sharpening. First, a conversation. Next, a conference.

A conversation…

I recently read an article by Dan Reiland which asked the question, “Are Altar Calls Outdated?” It’s a topic that has been brewing in my mind for several months. From my vantage point as a DS, I would say most of our EFCA churches tend to avoid altar calls as well as any kind of immediate response to the sermon. 

I spoke about this issue and the article I read from Dan Reiland with one of the cluster groups the other day and we had a really good conversation about it. From that conversation, and many others I’ve had with our district pastors, here are some things that seem to be in the minds of our pastors when it comes to why we don’t give altar calls or any kind of invitation that calls for an immediate response…

  • We want to avoid the temptation of being manipulative, trying to produce results ourselves.
  • We want to avoid being perceived by others as trying to manipulate.
  • We are very concerned about how skeptics could process the pressure of a moment where a call to a respond is given, especially as it relates to anything that is overtly emotional.
  • We don’t want to confuse people with thinking that they just need to pray a prayer or come forward or do any other thing without really understanding salvation.
  • We philosophically think its better to help our listeners use the sermon as an entry into a process where they can learn how to apply their response to the sermon. Namely, we want to get people into a small group where they can think through how to apply the message to everyday life in the context of community.
  • We trust the sovereignty of God with the results.
  • We think that witness is best done outside the walls of the church and the gathering of believers is not a place where we need to witness.

I have mixed feelings about these reasons. Some seem legit and some seem like pure fear. I admit that my Baptist roots really show themselves when I begin thinking this through. But my intent in today’s post is not to say definitively what I think – but to ask you, what do you think about this list? What are you doing as a preacher and a witness that invites people to draw closer to Christ? 

More importantly than what I think about the list above, I wonder, what does Jesus think? 

If you’re open to what some widespread study has taught Dan Reiland and others, read the article for yourself.

A conference…

There’s still time to come to our Eastern District Leadership Conference. We have national and district leaders who will be speaking to the men and women who are leading in our district at the conference. Check out the line-up, and then come join us for a time of sharpening! 

Hope to hear from you and see you at conference!

Eddie

MEET THE WILSONS!

Our EFCA mission is to multiply transformational churches among all people. That’s why I’m excited about the work God is doing with the Wilson family as they begin their new season of ministry in Roanoke, Virginia.

Charles and His wife Tranay began serving in youth ministry at their home church in South Jersey in 1999. Together they have been blessed with two amazing sons, Kyree, who is a sophomore year at Liberty University, and Charles III, who is a junior in high school. Over the years, they served their church in several capacities. In 2008, the Wilson’s relocated to Dallas, TX where Charles accepted a position as a youth pastor. Several years later, Charles was hired as the Associate Pastor of Student ministry at a church in the North Dallas area where he served for over 7 years.

In the fall 2016, the Wilsons answered the call to relocate to Roanoke VA to plant a new multiethnic, multicultural ministry called The Hill Church. This past June, Charles resigned from his staff position and made the move to Roanoke, VA to begin examining their new community.

Just a few weeks ago, on  August 12, they held a prayer walk, enlisting friends from Dallas, New Jersey and Roanoke to pray with them for the new ministry, for the people in the community and to better understand why the Lord was calling them to this city. The same day, less than two hours away, we all witnessed the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville. This was confirmation why a multiethnic and multicultural church is desperately needed.

Charles and Tranay both share a passion for Christ and a heart to encourage the body of Christ.  They both love working and sharing their ministry experience together, so please join them in prayer that God would use them to bless the city of Roanoke with the love and power of Jesus Christ.

In addition to working beside her husband, Tranay is a graphic and web designer who has a passion for bringing creativity to churches who need creative direction. She currently runs her own graphic and web design company called Cre8ed design.

You can learn more about The Hill Church on their website and view their church planting strategy HERE.

Contact info:

tranay@cre8eddesign.com

The Hill Church
PO Box 12125
Roanoke, VA 24023