About Richard Wood

Richard Wood is a native of Wilkesboro, North Carolina and currently serves as an associate pastor in Sanford, North Carolina. He has served congregations in the areas of education, youth ministry, children’s ministry and interim pastor over the last 15 years, and has led conferences on youth ministry, youth Sunday School and technology in ministry all across North Carolina.He is responsible for the technology needs of the partnership along with assisting churches with their technology needs

Intercession – The Church’s Power for Ministry

by Larry Glover-Wetherington

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:1-3 NLT)

As I observe the prayers of the Apostle Paul, I notice that he asks for prayer that he might have opportunities to share the gospel; he prays that people may be established in their faith; that they may experience the fullness of the good news; and that they will not be deceived by others perverting the gospel. He prays against “the principalities and powers” of the unseen world. As in the scripture above he agonizes in prayer over the new churches. Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.(Gal 4:19 NLT), and he prays that they will make disciples. Paul’s ministry is baptized in intercessory prayer.

It is in intercessory prayer that Jesus finds his highest calling. In his heavenly ministry, Hebrews 7:25 says, he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

This is where the church finds its highest calling as well. It is through the intercessory prayer of the church alone that the church can participate in God’s work, and nothing avails without it. This is that part of abiding in the Vine where Jesus says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”.

There is so much that needs prayer, it is easy to be overwhelmed to the point of not praying. Where do we begin? How do we proceed? I believe the clue is to pay attention to our heart.
My wife and I routinely watch the evening news. I have noticed at the end of the hour that I usually have a deep sense of grief and sadness from the reports of the pandemic, immigrants in multiple places in the world, some for political reasons, some fleeing persecution. Numerous wars and conflicts are ravaging people’s lives, and there is the continual racial injustice in our country. It occurred to me one evening that instead of just being sad and feeling like there is nothing I can do, perhaps the sadness is God’s way of calling me to compassionate intercessory prayer for God’s suffering and broken world.

These thoughts in the blog above are from Rev. Larry Glover-Wetherington, one of our associate partners in ministry living in Durham, North Carolina. He has served in various churches positions across the Southeast. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at director@TransformYourMinistry.com.

Prayer – Christ’s Intention for the Church

by Larry Glover-Wetherington

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:1-2).

The Greek word for “pray” here means to ask, beseech, plead, implore, make request, pray with a sense of urgency. It is in the middle voice, which indicates that we are to be in a continual back and forth conversation with God about God’s mission. When we read in the Gospels everything Jesus said about prayer, and when we see what the gospel writers said about how Jesus practiced prayer, we can only conclude that Christ intended for the work of the church to be done by prayer. The disciples made the connection between Jesus’ prayer and the wondrous things he said and did.  Let’s note just some of those observations.

THE ROLE OF PRAYER IN JESUS’ MINISTRY

Early in Jesus’ ministry Luke says, But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:15-16).

On yet another occasion, the disciples noticed Jesus in prayer: He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples (Luke 11:1).

Jesus explained the central purpose to his prayer life. He said, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does (John 5:19-20a).

How did Jesus see what the Father was doing? He saw it through prayer. That’s how He did his work in ministry; that’s how he intends for the church to do its work. It is only through prayer that we can discern what God is doing, and how God is inviting us to join in what God is doing.

THE ROLE OF PRAYER IN THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH

We also need to note how the early church went about its ministry through prayer. Our record of the church for its first 70 or so years is the book of Acts. The opening scene is Jesus giving the disciples final instructions before he ascended to heaven. He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit, and he said to them, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

As they began to experience persecution, Peter and John were put in jail overnight and ordered never again to preach in the name of Jesus. After their release, they reported everything to the church. Luke says, So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. (Acts 4:24). They began by hallowing God’s name. Then they proceeded to tell God what the religious authorities had said, and they closed their prayer with this request, Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31).

We find Peter later going up on a rooftop to pray, and he receives a vision and ultimately a command to go to Cornelius’ house. He goes, and the Holy Spirit falls upon the Gentiles, just like the Day of Pentecost That event caused a big controversy, and Peter goes to Jerusalem to explain. I can almost hear him, saying, “I was just minding my own business and praying, but let me tell you what happened.”

Space does not allow me to recount all the other instances of the church in prayer in the book of Acts, not the least of which was the launching of Paul’s missionary journeys. Just like Jesus, the early church came to understand what they were to do and say as they heard it and recognized it from God. Luke does not conclude the book of Acts. There is the assumption that God’s mission would continue, and that the church would continue to do its work through prayer. Perhaps during this time of being restricted by the pandemic, the church can engage the ministry of prayer. After all, God is not quarantined.

These thoughts above are from Rev. Larry Glover-Wetherington, one of our associate partners in ministry based out of Durham, North Carolina. He has served in various churches positions across the Southeast. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at coach@TransformYourMinistry.com.

Trusting in a New Day

By John Daniels

I recently wrote an article describing some of the ways the pandemic is changing the way we do church.  I concluded the article with the trust lessons I have both learned and continue to learn.

I was reminded of my first team building experience with a trust fall.  I was the first to volunteer to fall into the trusted hands of my group and it was an easy and fun experience.  I was not prepared for what was to follow, changing the position from the falling person to the group doing the catching was a tough transition.   Suddenly the immense responsibility of catching someone started weighing on me.  What if a team member doesn’t pay attention? What if someone thinks a slight “oops” in the catch would be funny?  What if everyone at the same time thought someone else will do the catching?

Trust requires action.  I have experienced new understandings of trusting God to be in control of his Church and his world in this crisis.  I would also hope that God and the church I serve have found me to be trustworthy.   I need to be prepared to get the team ready to make the catch when hearing the command “fall.”  I do trust God in this pandemic and I thank him for the gifts and the grace required to be ready for the catch.

These thoughts above are from John Daniels, our associate partner based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. His primary focus is working alongside churches in administrative challenges and opportunities. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at jdaniels@fbcwilmington.org.

Learning in a New Day

By John Daniels

Mid-March rocked my world.  We closed the church office for what we thought was a multiple week pause only to discover that a few weeks would turn into months.  Things are different!

How can we continue to do the business of the church?” became the question that needed an immediate answer.  Months later I realize that I am continuously asking and answering that same question.  When the regular framework for doing the business of the church is interrupted, we are forced to learn new things.  Learning how to increase our digital presence in the world, learning how to work from home, learning how to conduct a Zoom committee meeting, learning how to make a calendar that is flexible, learning how to streamline communication, the list goes on and on.

This COVID-19 transition has lasted longer than I hoped, yet it has lasted long enough for me to learn new things and ask new questions.

  • I have learned that availability is necessary, but it does not mean that I have to be tethered to a desk at the office.
  • I have learned that connection is necessary, but we do not have to see each other in person or shake hands for it to be real.
  • I have learned that calendars and TTD lists are important, but getting things done well with intentional priority are necessary in this time of transition.  Policies and procedures are indispensable, yet there are times that call for extra ordinary solutions to problems that may arise.
  • I have learned that God truly is in control of the church and her resources.  I have come to realize that prior to coronavirus the business of the church had become route and forcefully scheduled.  I now find a new peace and joy with making sure that necessities get done that require effort, time and some tender loving care.

I wish I could predict what comes next, but one thing I know, I must continue to learn and trust God.

These thoughts above are from John Daniels, our associate partner based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. His primary focus is working alongside churches in administrative challenges and opportunities. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at jdaniels@fbcwilmington.org.

I Don’t Know What to Do

By Rev. Jerry Chiles

I have survived so far in this COVID-19 pandemic. I think I’m OK, but have some bumps and bruises. I find myself not knowing what comes next. I hear about lawsuits to allow churches to reopen, and I listened to the health experts who are very cautious.  What do I do? This is no man’s land; a place where we become paralyzed.

We want to go back to the place we feel safe and comfortable. Yet we wonder, if that place still exists. We see the need to move forward, but don’t know what that looks like.  We are afraid of failing.

Moses faced similar circumstances in the Exodus. The children of Israel grumbled against Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die?” Moses became frustrated, “What am I to do with these people.” (NIV). Moses knew they could not go back. He had a vision of their destiny. Did he take some missteps? Yes, but he moved forward with the Lord’s help.

Be assured that failure is not the enemy, failing to act is the enemy. If you step out into the unknown, will you make mistakes? Yes. In a blog by Robyn with Partners in Mindful Living it says, “The big truth is that failure has gotten a bad rap. It’s the only way we humans move forward, make progress, and grow into functioning, reasoning adults.” In Love Does Bob Goff says “Failure is just a part of the process. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so that we can swing for the fences again.”

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” – Deuteronomy 3:22 NIV

These thoughts above are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister.

In the Middle of the Crisis

By Rev. Jerry Chiles

You might be asking yourself, “Why am I here at this junction of history? Why am I having to go through this crisis? I am exhausted. God why are you doing this to us?”

God is not the one who is doing this to us. Is God present in this crisis? Yes! Can God use this crisis to show us a better way? Yes! There are times in life when ordinary people have the opportunity to do extraordinary things. It is no accident that we are present. This crisis will help us define our ministries. Will we step up and make a positive contribution or will we do the minimum and try to wait it out?

What does God expect of us? I think he expects us to self-care, to be present with people, and prepare our congregations to move forward. Does he say it will be easy? No! But he promises to be present with us.

While we have given up some things, we have also discovered new things. We had to embrace social media as never before. We had to discover how we can be present without being in physical contact.

One of the hardest decisions we face is what will we leave behind and what we embrace as we move forward. It is natural for us to long for a time and place of the familiar and safety. Moses wanted to stay in the dessert and gave God excuse after excuse as to why he could not do it. After he said yes, he took lots of grief from his people who often asked to return to Egypt? Joshua was afraid but God told him, “Do not be afraid of them”. Barnabas brought Saul under his wing stepping into the unknown and took criticism from his fellow Christians.

So how do we discern what God is calling us to be and do in and after this crisis? Each of us must decide God’s calling. However, God does not call us to go back. He calls us to join him. In Isaiah 49:18-19 he challenges us to ‘see a new thing’. In the New Testament Jesus talked about new wine in new wineskins, new garments, new commandments, new treasures, and a new creation. In Revelation they sang a new song.

It is not enough for us to embrace the new. We must encourage our congregations to embrace the new as well. Some of the congregation will move quickly to follow this new way, while others will be slow to move and some not at all. It must be said up front that failure may be part of the new way, but remember failure is not the enemy.  Failing to act is the enemy.

Be encouraged! We will get through this crisis. Be encouraged! God wants the best for us and His church. Be encouraged! You are not alone. All of us are afraid about what to do. Be encouraged! There are members of your congregation who are seeking God for the new way, too. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV we find: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. “

These thoughts above are from Rev. Jerry Chiles, one of our partners in ministry for the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Metroplex. He has served in various churches across the Southeast as an associate minister.

Recruitment During and After the Pandemic

Pre-pandemic, I wrote my article about recruiting lay leadership, “It Gets Harder Every Year.” And we thought we had problems then!

Here are some thoughts about recruitment during the pandemic and post-pandemic.

What we know:

People are staying home. Or, they are at least staying-in-place, which could mean with a relative or in a vacation home. Many people are not working. People who are working from home are enjoying more flexible schedules.

Children are not going to school and summer programs. Thus, parenting is 24/7. (The responsibility was always 24/7, but now those kids never seem to leave the house!)

People who have never been a part of a video conference call are now joining these calls. And liking it. Travel time is not an issue. Childcare is not an issue. And, time stewardship is often better on a call than a “real” meeting. Virtual calls can be more focused and shorter. Thus, virtual meeting attendance is better than meetings that require physical presence.

What we do not know is how these current situations will affect our churches and church’s ministries. However, I believe that this could be good news for those recruiting leadership for church programs and missions.

People say “no” because of the curse of awful meetings. If meetings are focused and brief, if meetings are easy and convenient to attend, if meetings can be done while I’m cooking dinner – sure, I’ll be there!

Another reason people say “no” is because they are overly burdened. The burden may be due to family commitments, job commitments, community volunteer commitments (including church!) and a variety of other ways that people are maxed out on their commitments of time. Commitment has often been measured by physical presence. Now, we are finding ways to meet many of those commitments “virtually” through a video conference call, by working from home, and even going back to the ancient technologies of a telephone call or a (gasp!) hand-written note expressing our love and concern.

Another burden these days is grief. When we are in grief – and who isn’t these days? – we often do not have the energy or creativity or enthusiasm to lead. There is no quick and easy solution for this, of course. Grief takes time, whether it is grief over the death of a loved one or grief over a job loss or not having a graduation service or canceling that long anticipated vacation trip. However, as we heal from grief, we can gain wisdom and compassion. Wisdom comes when we ponder what is most important and therefore how I am now willing to commit my time. We gain compassion for others now mired in grief, to give them time and space to experience the loss and to support them with kind words and actions.

We cannot know how long the pandemic will affect us or our church. However, this can be a period of wise reflection on the best use of our time and resources. This can be a time to gain empathy and compassion for the grieving and the needy. This can be a time when we learn how to be better stewards and to make better decisions – including when to say “no” and when to say “yes.”

These thoughts above are from Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He has been in various positions from the local church to state and national leadership roles.

It Gets Harder Every Year

By. Dr. Rick Jordan

Editor’s note:  With our attention focused on the pandemic these days, we also don’t need to forget that we cannot do ministry by ourselves. We must have other people joining us! Whether we return to our churches soon or sometime later, these helpful tips from our new partner, Dr. Rick Jordan, will get you ready for getting your laity better engaged with your church’s mission. 

That is what three Baptist ministers in North Carolina I spoke with recently told me. We were talking about the recruitment of volunteer leaders for church ministries. The minsters are Tom Allen, First, Southern Pines; Tommy Bratton, First, Asheville; and Gina Brock, Ardmore, Winston-Salem. All three are veteran ministers who have spent much of their career recruiting, training, and affirming those who lead Bible studies, mission groups, music ministries, and aged-group ministries.

You might think that with all this experience, everything would be easier than it once was. So, what’s gotten harder over time? The recruitment and retainment of lay leaders.

Here are some reasons:

  1. Even the most faithful leaders have a different matrix for judging faithfulness. “It used to be that I could count on one person leading a Bible study class and they would be teaching 50 weeks in the year. Now, even the most faithful are missing 10 weeks of the year.
  2. Where are those leaders when not at church?  Enjoying our very mobile culture. They are out of town visiting children or grandchildren.
  3. Lay leaders do not want to be tied down to an every-week commitment. With more disposable income, some persons have purchased a vacation home at the lake, beach, or mountains. Or, they are traveling for long weekends at vacation destinations.
  4. This means, when they are gone, often they are off for weeks at a time.
  5. Thus, most people do not want to commit to taking a role by themselves. “Most of my Bible study classes have 2-4 leaders in a teaching rotation. That means up to four times more work in recruiting and training.
  6. There are also multi-generational expectations. Some older persons prefer classes segmented by gender. Very few younger persons want that. Some persons want to be in a class with peers; others look for a multiple-generational class with leaders from different generations.
  7. Some people are hesitant to lead because they feel ill-equipped or not as knowledgeable about the Bible and theology.
  8. In some churches, the political polarization that hurts the spirit of our nation has trickled into the classrooms. Few people want to be facilitators of weekly political debates.
  9. The church has lost the “built-in” people: stay-at-home wives/mothers and retirees.
  10. Everyone is very, very busy. Time is the most valuable commodity.

What to do in this new world? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Remind lay leaders that they do not have to have all the answers. Trust that the Spirit can bring wisdom to the group through a good question or exercise.
  2. Affirm lay leaders for the time they are willing to give. There are still persons for whom the leadership role is what they do until they get too sick to be present or they move or die. Let them know you appreciate their fidelity.
  3. On the other hand, do not criticize those whose lifestyles keep them on the road or out of town. Let them know how much you appreciate the ministry they are fulfilling.
  4.  Affirm the rotation model. It allows flexibility for leadership and it gives class members an opportunity to be led by a variety of voices and personalities.
  5. Explore the “Johns Creek model” for your Bible studies. This is what a church in Alpharetta, Georgia has been doing for many years. Leaders are recruited to become experts in a subject (for example, the gospel of John) which they then teach for six months to a class before moving on to another class.
  6. Recruit leaders for short-term projects. One church has recruited eight different women to lead Wednesday night Bible studies on eight different women Bible characters. Another church focuses on short-term projects such as planting flowers in the prayer garden and decorating the church for Advent.
  7. Always be looking for fresh voices, fresh leaders.
  8. Never, never, never recruit someone who is not currently active in the church in hopes that this will encourage them to be more active or to make them less critical.
  9. Do background checks on all leadership who work with youth and children.
  10. Simplify the church programs so fewer persons are needed. For example, maybe the committee of six could become a committee of three.
  11. Be willing to use non-church members for leadership. One church recruited an “outsider” to lead their Financial Peace University course.
  12. Approach new recruits with respect and tact. “Your name was suggested in serving as ___. Are you interested in hearing more?” Let them know “the why” of this ministry – why it is important and how it fits into the church’s vision. Let them know why you believe they have the skills to do this leadership role. Don’t demand an answer on the spot. Send them a task description with an agreement to call them back in a week.

These thoughts above are from Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He has been in various positions from the local church to state and national leadership roles.

Public Health and Safety Emergency Continuity Planning For Your Church

by Dr. Paul Raybon

We hope that the following ideas from our partner, Paul Raybon, can help guide your church in these challenging days of the pandemic.

Who is empowered to make decisions? Health and safety issues may develop too quickly for deliberative processes.

What are triggers for implementing changes? Deciding these up front can prevent rehashing at every point. You might want to consider these areas:

Connection/Communication

What information/encouragement do we need to convey?

How (by what means) will we communicate both online and offline?

Who is responsible for communicating to whom?

When/how often do we need to get the word out?

How will contact persons communicate feedback to people who need to know?

Worship/Faith Formation

What worship and formation experiences can be extended beyond and instead of physical gatherings?

What elements are crucial/helpful for helping people worship?

How do we encourage interactivity and connection?

Who do we know that can help us extend worship/formation to our congregation and community via web/radio/mail etc?

When/how often can we provide those experiences?

Pastoral Care

What are visiting guidelines for local institutions?

How do we convey care and prayer for those we cannot physically visit?

Which staff and deacons are able to make contacts and communicate feedback?

How will we deal with deaths/funerals/weddings?

Ministries

What ongoing ministries, on which people depend for sustenance and care, can we maintain?

What ministries need to be suspended?

What resources are available to meet needs? How limited are those resources?

How will we communicate with ministry participants?

How can we find safe alternative means of meeting needs?

Who is available/able to meet those needs?

Administration – Who is responsible for answering these questions and delegating responsibilities?

What digital backup copies of financial, membership, and operational files are in place?

What documents/materials are needed for remote operations during a campus shutdown?

What contact information is available to leaders during campus shutdown?

How can phone/computer systems be used to receive and forward calls, and check messages?

How can offerings be collected and deposited? Are online and bank draft methods in place?

How can we pay bills/do payroll/check mail?

Who is back up for bookkeeper/treasurer?

How will sanitation be maintained?

What parts of building need to be secured? When? By whom?

How will we take care of hourly employees?

What are alternative sources of funding?

By what mechanism can we access savings, designated funds, and endowments to keep church operating?

These thoughts above are from Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry for Western North Carolina. He is an associate pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders in the Western Carolinas as a coach and consultant. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 828.713.6986 or paulraybon@bellsouth.net.

It’s Not Just a Stick!

Editor’s note: All of us at the Barnabas Partneship have been praying for you and your church as you go through unchartered waters in these last few weeks due to the coronoavirus pandemic. But we also felt that we needed to bring a sense of  “normalcy” by posting this article because ministry must still continue. Our prayer is that this crisis will soon pass and that we all can be better equipped to encourage our churches.

by Rev. Steve Zimmerman

If you stay in ministry long enough, you can’t help but get some things from church members where you have served. My office is full of memorabilia from the various stops on my ministry journey. But there has been one thing that has become more precious to me in the past few months.

The stick you see in the picture above is something that a long time children’s lay leader in a North Carolina church gave me years ago. Mr. Mack was known for his love of children and they responded in kind. Maybe he gave this wooden rod to me because I was turning 50 and needed some encouragement! Whatever the reason, it has been in storage these past ten years until I had a sore shoulder recently.

If you have ever gone to physical therapy, they give you exercises to do at home to work out the pain or recover from a surgery. One of my exercises was to grab a stick, have it go across my chest and raise both good and bad shoulders with the aid of the stick. The theory behind it is that the stick is being used by the good shoulder to help my weakened shoulder. Just think! An ordinary stick was being used to ease my pain and give me some spiritual enlightenment.

Here are some points that it has taught me.

  1. It is plain but effective. I didn’t have to go out and get the most expensive therapy tool. All I needed was already there. When you need support in ministry, don’t overlook those people in your ministry circles. They know you best and may be the right ones to turn to for support.
  2. It has more than one purpose. For many people this rod is a perfect walking stick. But it has found a new use in my home. Don’t always label a church member or staff person with one gift just because they do a certain job real well in church. You might be surprised that they may want to use their resources in a new and creative way. Who knows? They may even be more effective in their new role at your church.
  3. It keeps me honest. There is a good chance that if I didn’t use this stick to help me in my therapy, I probably would not be doing the maximum stretching that I need to do for my sore shoulder. Without the stick my temptation could easily not go to the same level as the good shoulder and thereby not get the most out of my therapy. If we are true to ourselves and to those around us in ministry, we must have additional support because our energy is not good enough to do all that we need to do with all the demands our roles incur.

Now we at the Barnabas Partnership don’t always consider ourselves as simple sticks. Yet we are here to be beside you, support you and have you start reaching for your fullest ministry potential. When you need that extra stretch, we can be there for you! We’ll even promise not to be too sticky!

These thoughts above are from Rev. Steve Zimmerman, the founding partner in the ministry. He works alongside churches in their mission process and small group dynamics. He coordinates the work of the partnership out of Danville, Virginia. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 336.214.3958 or steve@barnabaspartnership.com