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    Elders' Blog - Entries from November 2014

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    WedWednesdayNovNovember19th2014 The Face of Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders 1 comments Add comment

    I like to buy, use, and lose Callaway golf balls. Why? Because my favorite pro golfer uses them. Anyone remotely aware of my golfing skills recognizes the absurdity of any connection between what he does with a Callaway ball and what I do with them. But there is still that undeniable hope drilled into my psyche by the commercials.

    Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees has his face representing a variety of products and organizations these days. Whether it is Vicks Vapo Rub, Wrangler Jeans, Chase Bank, Tide soap, or Can-AM Spyder (a three wheel motorcycle that he is contractually forbidden to drive), he has leveraged his popularity as an NFL star into a sizeable fortune by subtly saying there is a possibility that we could be like him if we bought and used those products. The endorsement of someone famous, powerful, beautiful, or successful seems to be the engine that drives the decision making of consumers. Is it possible to be content until you possess and use the same products as Drew Brees, or any other powerfully famous person for that matter?

    Who is the best face for Kossuth? If we were to develop and launch a county-wide advertising campaign for KSBC, who would be the best celebrity face to help us? Our objective in this campaign would be to make everyone who sees our ads, commercials, and pictures drool with desire to be a part of our church. What would the commercials look like and who would we hire as the star that would produce the most buyer response?

    You.

    You are the face of the church. Every day of your life is an endorsement for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the many advantages of being a part of a community like Kossuth. That is certainly what Jesus meant when he taught that his followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus expected his followers to be the face of the church he gave his life to build.

    The Apostle Paul affirms this truth many times in his letters to churches. He specifically and repeatedly brings the reader’s attention to the fact that the faith and love of church members was growing and becoming more well known throughout the region (2 Thess. 1:3-4; Col. 1:3-8). The people causing a stir and drawing attention to the church were those practicing sacrificial love, risk-taking faith, and endurance though suffering.

    We need both warning and encouragement as we continue through these weeks of good dialogue regarding Changing Seasons at Kossuth. The warning is that sometimes in our weakness and weariness, we too easily shift the responsibility for our church’s growth, reputation, attractiveness, and effectiveness to a select few. Those faces of Kossuth could be the leaders, the successful, the wealthy, or any representative of the kind of people we want to attract as a church.

    The encouragement is that the message of the gospel is about transforming lives. Your life of love, faith, and hope strengthened by the grace of Jesus is the best representation of our church in this community. Leaders are important for many reasons. God does give opportunity to a few higher profile types in the church. However, it is your walk with God in the real time of the struggles and challenges of daily life that God puts on the billboard and in the commercial to draw attention to and create desire for knowing him.

    Buyer response, that’s what matters. Show them your faith, love and hope ... it will generate buyer response every day of the week.

    ThuThursdayNovNovember13th2014 Changing Seasons at Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Leaders 1 comments Add comment

    Things are changing at Kossuth. One contributing factor to why change is such a challenge for many is the lack of information and clarity regarding the change. I once was told that for any group to clearly understand what is being said or announced it must be repeated at least six times in various ways. In the spirit of intentional and loving repetition, here is a summary along with a reminder from our announcement this past Sunday regarding our upcoming leadership transition.

    Summary: The elders and staff, after several months of prayerful interaction with the “Commitments and Characteristics” document, the data gathered at the CommonVision meetings, and the current needs of our church, are convinced that the strategic planning process has led us to consider two phases with distinct issues to set our church on a course for long term growth and health.        

    Strategic Plan Phase 1: Lead/Vision Elder Transition
    Strategic Plan Phase 2: Multi-year Strategic Plan

    Regarding Phase 1 of Lead Elder transition, we believe that it is best for the health of Kossuth and the success of the next multi-year strategic plan to accelerate the lead elder transition to take place in the next eight months. Because vision and strategy are defined and driven by leadership, we see great value in considering leadership transition as a platform for longer-term planning. We believe that a more imminent leadership transition not only flows out of but also advances our planning process, while positioning Kossuth to launch the next chapter for what God has in store.

    Stated another way, I along with the leadership believe that it is God’s timing for a new season of fruitfulness, growth, and joy at Kossuth, and that season will be launched from the platform of a change in the form, feel, and function of what we know as the lead elder and his role.

    • Our strategic planning process led us to identify the importance of leadership being structured to successfully drive the next season or chapter of fruitfulness at Kossuth.
    • There is a change coming for the Whipples in the next eight months. My role will shift from leading the elders to a role of providing continuity and support for the leadership transition. This change was initiated and welcomed by me as both directed by God and best for the long term health of Kossuth. Long term plans for Sue and I are still being prayerfully developed.
    • Pending the outcome of the elder appointment vote in December, the elders envision Drew Humphrey and Abraham Cremeens assuming the roles of Pastor of Preaching and Vision and Pastor of Discipleship and Vision respectively, some time after the first of the year.

    Reminder: This Sunday, November 16, is a key time to both share more details and answer questions. I plan to focus the sermon on the biblical and theological support for change and vision. The 10:45 hour is a time for everyone to gather in the sanctuary for further presentations and a time of Q&A. We want to get as clear of a “big picture” before you in these weeks leading up to our new elder vote. Please plan to prayerfully participate in these opportunities. As you think of questions, please feel free to email them to the church office or an elder.

    ThuThursdayNovNovember6th2014 Dying with Dignity
    byTom Humphrey Tagged Current Events Death 0 comments Add comment

    Over the past few months, Brittany Maynard has been the topic of discussion in our country and perhaps around the civilized world when she declared her intent to end her own life on November 1. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had decided that to “die with dignity” meant that she got to end her life when she chose, before the pain and disease became overwhelming. Many cried out loudly in support of her decision while others criticized her decision equally as loud.

    What does it mean to die with dignity? Is it to not have to suffer excessively, as Brittany had defined it? Does it mean that we get to choose when and how we die? Perhaps it means we bravely face the firing squad with no blindfold, looking all squarely in the eye.

    It is not my desire to critique the correctness of Ms. Maynard’s decision, but instead to ask how does one who desires to be a “partner in the advance of the gospel” die with dignity? Not surprisingly, the Bible has some examples of this very thing. Hebrews 11:35ff tells us of some kingdom-advancers who were stoned, sawed in two, and slain with the sword. Revelation 20:4 talks of those who were beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God. Many of us have read about (or seen the movie about) how Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Flemming and Roger Youderian were killed by the very Ecuadorian tribe that they were attempting to advance the gospel with. Elliot’s journal entry for October 28, 1949, expressed his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life.

    I recently heard of a young man named Clayton McDonald who died from terminal cancer in 2009 just 40 days before he turned 19. To quote a blog about Clayton, “He died with blood gushing out of his nose. Death with dignity? Hardly. Clayton did not try to escape or shorten his suffering. He used his suffering to point many people to Jesus.”  I encourage you to watch the video that Clayton made prior to his death. It is well worth the investment of your time. In the video he points out what many of us like to ignore: we are all going to die and most of us don’t know when. Each day, we move closer to death. Acknowledging that, how do we die with dignity?

    As gospel-advancers, we die with dignity by living our life advancing the gospel, regardless of what trials we face. We die with dignity by living each day as a gift from a gracious, merciful God who loves us and desires for us to be conformed into the image of his Son. Dying with dignity is done by laying aside our selfishness and serving others, by bearing one another’s burdens. We die with dignity by loving people as God loves them, no matter their social status, educational level, physical appearance, income level, etc. While we love them, we point them to the glorious gospel and redemption found in Jesus Christ.

    I must admit to being stirred in an uncomfortable way by the sermons on bearing one another’s burdens and being partners in the advance of the gospel. My prayer is that you have been stirred as well, and that as a local body, Kossuth will be a people who are dying with dignity. 

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