The Alumni Blog . . . RHEMA Alumni sharing what works, reaching the world with the message of faith!
Jeff and Karen Schlemmer (’85, ’86) say . . .
Security for Checking In Children. We have used Automated Church Systems
(www.acstechnologies.com) for several years to manage our financial records, and now we’re using it for security purposes when checking in children. It produces badges for parents, children, and volunteers, as well as attendance sheets and rosters. It’s very flexible and can even be used with a barcode scanner. The company offers good technical support and many online training tools (for a small fee).
About . . . Jeff and Karen Schlemmer are children’s pastors at Living Word Ministries in West Haven, Connecticut. www.lwministries.org
David (’84, ’85) and Celeste (’84) Rogers say . . .
Bus Ministry. After we bought a 26,000-square-foot building, we wanted to grow and have an impact on our community. John (’96, ’97) and Martine (’94, ’95) Smithwick helped train our volunteers to do a bus ministry. Our people dressed as clowns and went door-to-door in low-income neighborhoods to introduce themselves and let parents know there would be a puppet show in their common area the next day. We did skits and music, then told the parents we’d send a bus the next day to pick up kids for Sunday service. We started with a 15-passenger van; now we own a school bus and are looking to buy another. It took a while to earn trust, but parents began to show up at the church after seeing their children’s positive response. One of the biggest blessings has been seeing some families really turn around.
About . . . David and Celeste Rogers pastor Resurrection Life Church in Waterville, Maine. www.mainechurch.org
Dwight Kilborn (’95, ’96) says . . .
Communicating With Youth Leaders. Because some of my youth leaders have to travel 30 to 40 minutes to come to church, having regular meetings can be tough. To stay connected with them and let them know what’s happening, I have a blog where I communicate everything I would say in a meeting. There are many Internet blog providers; I use TypePad (www.typepad.com). TypePad is password protected, and there’s a calendar for scheduling—I actually have no paperwork at all. Every time I post a new item or a team member posts a comment, an alert automatically goes to everyone’s e-mail. The blog is more personal than e-mail, and everyone can follow the conversation threads.
About . . . Dwight Kilborn is youth pastor at Fellowship of Faith Christian Center in Oakland, Iowa. www.inversionyouth.com
Darian Rains (’92, ’93) says . . .
Keeping Youth in Church After They Graduate. Youth ministry is fun and exciting, but if we are not careful, it can become a separate entity from the local church. Our students will be in our youth program for only six years, but we want them to be church members for the rest of their lives. So, we’re working to get them involved in the whole ministry, not just youth ministry. We’re still creative in reaching this generation, but we’re not “clubby.” We get youth involved in the church’s culture through the ministry of helps, church outreaches, and a summer internship program we call “Lift.” The youth commit a couple of days each week to the program. We teach them as if they’re a RHEMA class. We’re instilling the culture of our church into them, and as a result, they stay in the church after they graduate from the youth ministry.
About . . . Darian Rains is youth pastor at Light of the World Christian Center in Topeka, Kansas. www.lotwcc.org
Mark Thornton (’05, ’06) says . . .
Reaching Out and Building Up Within. Four days a week, the senior high youth pastor and I go to a different school in town to have lunch with the youth. We talk about what’s happening at the church (missions trips, beach camps, and so on). Pretty soon, there’s a bunch of kids hanging around, wanting to hear about what we’re doing. We’ve also started a separate weeknight meeting called “D Time” (devotional time) for those who want to go deeper with God than they might in the regular service or Sunday school. We dig into the Word, and each week the meeting has grown, with about 60 kids showing up right now.
About . . . Mark Thornton is junior high youth pastor at Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee. www.cornerstonenashville.org
Adam and Rachel Gates (’04, ’05) say . . .
Reaching Out to the Community. We do many things throughout the year to share the love of Jesus in a practical way. (We get many ideas from the book Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren). At Christmas, we wrap gifts for free at Wal-Mart. We’ve gone to trailer parks and taken people’s garbage out for them—two families came to church as a result. We’ve gone to elderly people’s homes and offered to help them by changing light bulbs, checking smoke detector batteries, cleaning gutters, or raking leaves. We’ve given away 200 book bags to school children and supplied items to the local firehouse. We’ve found that people respond to their needs being met, and the whole community knows our church as “a church that helps.”
About . . . Adam and Rachel Gates pastor On Fire Family Church in Murphy, North Carolina. www.onfirefamilychurch.org
Bob Keich (’99, ’00) says . . .
Staying in Touch With Members. When my pastor first took over this church, it had about 200 members. Every Saturday, he would personally call every person on the role, encouraging each one to come, bring a friend, and bring a Bible. But as the church grew, he was making phone calls for 12 hours a day, so he switched to a phone system called Phone Tree (www.phonetree.com). It allows you to send a message from the pastor to the members, or messages to specific groups within the church. We now make about 3,500 phone calls on Saturdays. It has also developed into an accountability tool—lay leaders can call their groups, and people will call back if they’re not going to be there.
About . . . Bob Keich is Senior Executive Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee. www.cornerstonenashville.org
Barry and Sheila Fredericks (’83, ’84) say . . .
Strengthening Families. People very often struggle with their relationships, so we do a “Home Improvement” meeting in the church on Saturday nights. We send out postcards with a construction theme to invite the community to attend. The sessions last for just one hour. We pick a topic and sit on the platform with our Bibles and notes, share some Bible principles, and then open up discussion with the crowd. Topics have included how to honor one another as husband and wife, the importance of words, showing affection, and developing trust. We’ve had non-members come and end up joining the church, and it’s been a wonderful success in helping people with their foundational relationships.
About . . . Barry and Sheila Fredericks pastor Grace Christian Fellowship in Newtown, Connecticut. www.gcf-ct.org
James (’88, ’89) and Elizabeth (Frizelle ’85, ’86) Burgoyne say . . .
Advertising With Bulk Mail. Twice a year, in September and January, we sent a bulk mail postcard inviting people to our church. We applied for a non-profit bulk rate at our local post office (they’ll walk you through the paperwork), then got the postal routes from them. We chose whether we
wanted to send to the whole town, or just our side of town. It cost about 6 to 8 cents to mail each card, adding up to a total of about $2,000 to print 30,000 postcards. When you’re writing the postcard, pinpoint the people you want to reach. Here in Frisco, everyone has children, so we said something about kids and families. Always put your picture on the card. Look at Web sites like www. outreach.com for good ideas; they’ll send you samples. Mailing these cards can help you build a reputation and recognition in
the city and cause people to log on to your Web site to find out more about you.
About . . . James and Elizabeth Burgoyne live in Frisco, Texas.
Nick and Kim Stutesman (’89, ’90) say . . .
In Emergency Situations. When Kim suffered a life-threatening medical emergency and was in the hospital, we were so overwhelmed with calls from people wanting to know how she was that we couldn’t answer or return them all. We started using the voicemail on our cell phone to give updates. We gave that number to everyone, and every day we’d change the message to include the date, her condition, specific prayer needs, and so on. It really helped us keep in touch with the people who care.
About . . . Nick and Kim Stutesman pastor Sunrise Bible Church in Sunrise Beach, Missouri.
Gary Hoffman (’80, ’81) says . . .
Chili Cook-Off Outreach. We do this every year in the fall as a Halloween alternative, in conjunction with our Hallelujah Night, complete with games and inflatable toys for kids. We hold it outside. About 20 people in the church sign up to make chili (each person makes five gallons). Some of them even wear costumes. Anyone who wants to can taste all the chilis and then vote for their favorite one. We usually have about 100 judges, and a winner is crowned at the end. We invite the community to come out. Usually, about 500 people come, 30 percent of whom are visitors.
About . . . Gary Hoffman pastors Faith Fellowship Church in Wirtz, Virginia. www.glorydome.org
John Edwards (’97, ’98) says . . .
Getting Church Members Involved in Missions. We started a group in our church called SEALs: “Separated Empowered Anointed Leaders.” They are trained and mobilized for missions. Anyone who is a tithing member of the church can be a SEAL. We have about 20 people involved right now, even children. We’ve taken five trips overseas so far, where we do everything from street witnessing and church ministry to construction and physical labor. We have more trips planned, and our goal is to do one a month.
About . . . John Edwards pastors Hillside Church in Clay, Alabama. www.faithpreacher.com
Earl and Marci Glisson (’99, ’00) say . . .
Sports Fellowship. We started “Anchor Faith Intramural Varsity League” in our church. It’s almost like a cell ministry based on sports interests. We offer flag football, softball, volleyball, and other sports. Some are co-ed; others aren’t. In the fall, men sign up for flag football. We draft the teams (just like the NFL), then play eight regular season games. After that are the playoffs and then the Super Bowl, with a huge tailgate party. We do this at a local park in town, so the community sees us. It gives our church an opportunity for fellowship, and also allows us to be out in the community, talking with people, and showing them we are an active church. We’ve had people show up to church because they saw us in the park.
About . . . Earl and Marci Glisson pastor Anchor Faith Church in St. Augustine, Florida. www.anchorfaith.com