The Great Lakes Region Tour
I had the honor of speaking to several rural and small-town pastors and congregants throughout the state of Michigan in early November.
The tour began at Lakeview Community Church on Sunday, November 4, where I spoke at both of their services. Lakeview is a community of 1,200. The church was planted by David Hanson in 2010. The church averages over 200 and is making a huge impact. I especially enjoyed the second service as two of my uncles and one of my aunts, all of whom came to Christ through the ministries of LCC, were there. The reality of the importance of rural church planting was strongly impressed on me as I heard their story over lunch.
That evening I spoke in Williamston to a large group of rural pastors and laity. We were honored to have Chris Conrad, Director of The Great Lakes Region (GLR) of The Wesleyan Church, join us for the meeting. We shared our passion for rural ministry and our belief that God is raising up missionaries to rural America. It was very well received. There was a tangible sense of God’s presence throughout the evening; something we enjoyed throughout the week.
On Monday and Tuesday, I spoke in Merrill, Michigan and Cedar Springs, Michigan. At both locations I led two, three-hour, seminars. These events were smaller and were designed to reach pastors who were co-vocational. This was an intentional attempt to make training and encouragement available to pastors who cannot only not afford to go major conferences, but cannot get time off work if they could. We focused on rural specific training and encouragement, something you do not find at major conferences when you do attend.
When I looked at the schedule of these first three days, I thought it would be exhausting. Two sermons and five seminars in three days seemed daunting. In some ways it was. However, it was also very energizing. This is what DRN is all about! Our mission is to plant rural churches, raise up rural missionaries, revitalize rural congregations, and provide training and encouragement to rural missionaries. This is what I was made to do.
On Wednesday morning I shared the vision of DRN and our passion for rural ministry with the Central New York and Western Pennsylvania Districts of the Wesleyan Church via a Zoom webinar. (E-mail me if you would like to watch this.) I then wrapped up our tour of the GLR with a luncheon in Saginaw. At the luncheon I met with several Michigan pastors to discuss possible ways for DRN to partner with the GLR and to create hubs for rural church planting and revitalization.
A big thank you to Tom Schmidt, director of rural and small-town ministry for the GLR, for planning this tour and being such a great host. It was a blessed time.