Six pastors from the Heartland District of Grace Brethren Churches gathered around a table at the Grace Brethren Church in Osceola, Ind.
It had been a casual morning of evaluation and brainstorming – something the pastors of the region do once a quarter to encourage each other in ministry, while equipping one another.
This particular morning began as Greg Serafino and Dave Knight, senior pastor and pastor of care ministry at the Osceola church, respectively, shared the history of the congregation and how the two have worked to help people in their congregation better connect with their spiritual gifts as they serve.
They talked about what worked, what didn’t, and what could have been done better.
Everything was on the table. Each in attendance had listened to a sermon by one of the Osceola pastors and had reviewed the church’s website and social media pages before arriving for the meeting. They came prepared to listen and to provide feedback.
“Everything we do as a church communicates, and we’re hoping it communicates the major vision of our church,” noted Tim Sprankle, pastor at the Grace Brethren Church in Leesburg, Ind., who participated in the morning’s discussion.
“A number of the suggestions that have been made will be beneficial to us,” said Knight, who has served at the church since 2006. “I think challenging us to be more intentional in regard to shepherding people and coming along side them; that’s something I’ll take away from it.”
“It was encouraging that we are actually doing some things right,” added Serafino, who grew up in the church and has served as senior pastor since 2005. “When you are in the middle of it, you can’t see it.”
Even several months later, the two are processing the input they received. “One thing that we talked about that day was trying to stay focused upon what we do best and [to] say “no” to the other good things that are not in our wheelhouse,” Serafino stressed. “We are trying to filter more and more decisions through our mission, vision, and purposes so that we can try to be more laser-focused instead of taking a scatter-gun approach to ministry.”
While Serafino and Knight might have been on the “hot seat” that morning, others who participated left feeling encouraged.
“It’s always good to hear other people are working out these ideas and concepts,” noted Aaron Scantlen, who is planting Empty Hands Bible Church in Winona Lake, Ind. “You see different ways people are applying things. For me, it makes me think how are we doing these things.”
“I find the questions I ask are usually related to something I’m wrestling through as well,” added Sprankle. “There’s always a twinge of self-interest that goes into this, as they are benefiting, I’m also thinking, ‘Oh, this is how I need to do announcements this week so I communicate vision.’”
Jeremy Wike, pastor of Community of Hope Grace Brethren Church in Columbia City, Ind., observed that their churches are on similar life cycles. “The questions you ask, the things you’ve done, the things that worked or didn’t work — I find it somewhat reinforcing,” he said. “I’m not alone.”
Want to know more about the equipping process used by the Heartland District pastors? Contact Greg Serafino, Dave Knight, Tim Sprankle, Jeremy Wike, or Aaron Scantlen for more information or to send them a note of encouragement.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.