“When I was interviewed by the Michigan conference to come to PMC I was 30 years old. The person doing the interviewing asked me: So, Dwight, how long do you think you will stay? Since our previous pastoral assignments had lasted an average of 2.9 years, I was at a loss for words. I looked at my wife and neither of us knew what to say. I thought about it for a moment and responded: I’ll stay 7 years. They all looked at each other and said: Yes. We’ll take it.

It’s been 32 years since that day. Dwight Nelson continues to pastor (and thrive) in a university campus church. I sat down with him for part 2 of the series on pastoral longevity. Here are 5 principles I gleaned from him:

  1. “Ministry is like holding a butterfly in your hand.”

Ministry is like holding a butterfly. You can look at it, enjoy its beauty, but if you squeeze it you will destroy it. It’s not yours. It’s not about you. You are just a steward of its beauty for a season. You are successful at the same location for over thirty years for the same reason you are successful for one year. Understand it’s not about you. You have been given a gift. Enjoy it while you have it, how ever long that is.

It all starts with your relationship with God. If the pastor is not connected to God he can fool the people for a while but not for long. Your decision making when considering a call is also rooted in that relationship. One of Dwight’s mentors and prayer partners taught him a valuable lesson: “Unless you hear otherwise, His previous order still stands.”

  1. “I get to reinvent myself. That’s great!”

Two advantages of long term pastorates:

-Life cycles. I get to minister to people from cradle to casket. Getting involved in people’s lives and seeing them mature, grow, cry, laugh, and a host of other experiences that I can enjoy over the long haul.

-Opportunity for reinvention.  This is probably the one he got the most excited about. There is a common denominator I have seen in pastors that thrive. That is the desire to pace themselves but not to settle. They are always asking the questions: what’s next? How can we be more effective? What’s missing?

  1. “I get to reinvent myself. That’s hard!”

The best things in life are often the worst things in life. The activity/person/occupation that causes you the most joy can also cause you the most pain. I sensed that for Dwight it was difficult to see a part of his congregation leave and establish very close by a ministry which stated desire was to connect more effectively with the same demographic Dwight was trying to reach, namely young adults. That was probably one of the times in his life that he had to do some real deep soul searching and process emotionally what he already knew intellectually: this is about Jesus. Not you.

Out of those difficult, soul searching times, came (as it often does for all of us) a renewed vision, compacted worship service, and a clearer understanding of mission and growth.

  1. “Speak to 20 something’s. Let the world look in.”

I asked Dwight how does he balance the need to speak to his local congregation while at the same time using the platform he has been given to speak on important issues of the day. More than 20 years ago when the TV ministry started, they made a conscious decision: They were going to minister to the college community, and let the world look in if they were interested. They were. His primary focus is his local flock and if what he has to say addresses the larger issues, then that is an added benefit.

  1. “Criticism. If it hurt your pride, it means you had pride to begin with.”

Dwight has managed to reach countless people. Among them are critics. He has received criticism from some regarding his position on Women’s Ordination, and others for believing that Ellen White was in fact a prophet who was inspired by God. After a sermon on the Sabbath he received 2 notes. One congratulated him for the message, the other one believed it was terrible. He showed the notes to an Elder who told him: “Didn’t they teach you in seminary not to read the fan mail till you get home?”


I hope the principles gathered here can help us become better pastors where the butterfly has landed now, whether it be for 3 years or 30. And never tell a conference president how long you will stay. I bet God got a few chuckles out of that one… “He said 7 years? Ok. Let’s keep him there for…”


Take look at the ministry of PMC: http://www.pmchurch.org/


I was worshiping in a congregation (in the last year) that had Adventist Church in the sign, but might as well call themselves Announcement Church, because that’s all they did. They had one person do announcements from the front in Power Point, followed by another person who reaffirmed the previous announcements with no power point, followed by the pastor who highlighted yet some others. It easily took almost 20 minutes. Probably closer to 30.

This does not happen every week, but too often to be overlooked. I personally believe, through experience and research that guests don’t really come to church looking to find out when the next fund raising car wash is. I have also been to enough growing, healthy churches that do minimal announcements from the front to know a church can thrive with a change in this area. Here are 5 suggestions you can use if you want to be more sensitive to guests (and members):

Change the name- I believe you can live without announcements from the front, but if you must do them, changing the name of that section can be helpful. Calling them “announcements” will produce the blank stare and yawn. Call them Highlights. Opportunities. Whatever you do, maximum time should be 3 minutes.

Change the delivery method- Millennials and Builders share and process information differently. People in marketing will tell you that individuals need to hear information at least 3 times before it makes an impact. (http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_times_must_a_person_hear_new_information_to_retain_it)

So use: Website. Text message. QR Codes. Power Points on loop in lobby or sanctuary. Videos. Social Media. Announcement Table. This takes time and takes preparation. Since many churches run on a week to week crisis mode, instead of early intentional planning it will require the leadership to dedicate the time necessary to make this work. Here is a website that will convert your announcements into video. www.weeklychurchnews.com

Change the time- I have seen announcements done at the most inopportune times. These are:

At the very beginning. No one is there!

After a very stirring and powerful praise time. Announcements are to worship what pins are to balloons.

Right before the sermon. Just preach dude.

Right after the closing song. Let the people go!

Change the length- never more than 3 minutes. Your job as a leader is not to do it like it has always been done, but to do it right!

Change the delivery person- last church I pastored we eliminated up-front, lengthy announcements. We used the bulletin and I personally announced in the worship service one or two of the most important upcoming opportunities. This is tricky, because some pastors have the gift of making a short announcement into an hour long diatribe. But usually when the pastor speaks, it carries weight. Please don’t do it right before you preach or ask people to sit and wait for a last announcement right after you preach. It takes a while for people to adjust. But they do.

Hope this was helpful. More prayer. More word. More study. More fellowship. More music. Less announcements.

P.S. This is a slightly different perspective to mine: http://samrainer.com/2014/07/why-your-church-needs-more-often-announcements-in-worship/

What are some ideas you have? Reply in the comment section with funny, crazy or interesting stories or suggestions.

Men. Prayer. That is two words that s7-22-14 Posterhould go together, but often don’t. On October 3-5 of 2015, that can change!

When I was a local church pastor I had a much harder time getting the Men’s Ministry going than I did the Women’s Ministry. I don’t know why that was, but at times it was like pulling teeth. Once we started doing the breakfasts and outings, things changed for the better.

We have a wonderful opportunity next month to do something for the men in our churches. Its idea was birthed by the desire to see men come together and grow as leaders, fathers, husbands, godly men.

Here are 5 ways you can help the men in your church grow through this event:

1. Encourage your men to go. Let them know the benefits of “coming away awhile.” We are not human doings, we need to mirror God’s rhythm that is: Work. Rest. Work. Rest. When we break that rhythm we become broken. Spending time in sustained prayer can cure a million ills.

2. Sponsor at least one person from your church. It can be the Men’s Ministry or potential Men’s Ministry Director. It can be a man that you know needs a weekend away from the turmoil in his life. It can be someone that you have seen go above and beyond for the church. The quality of the event will not only impress them, but will bless them.

3. Let your men know about it. I perfectly understand the constant barrage of events that you are asked to promote. Just share this information with your people via email. Let people know. Let God do the rest.

4. Go. Here is an idea: Why don’t you get a speaker for the day, give your wife a nice gift card, kiss the dog goodbye and come join us? Trust me, your church will survive, while you are growing.

5. Bring a guest. Events like these are great evangelism opportunities. Help a guest get there and it can make a difference in his life both now and in eternity.

Don’t go for the speakers, although there will be excellent speakers. Don’t go for the seminars although they will instruct and inspire. Go for God. Go for growth. Go.

*The deadline has been extended!


It has taken the internet by storm, if my TL is any indication. Everyone is doing it. Since most of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers are Adventists, I have enjoyed the different, creative (and not so creative) ways people have taken this challenge. The ice bucket symbolizes unity and solidarity with patients of this debilitating and deadly disease. Nothing more, nothing less. Then I saw this https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=als%20and%20age%20of%20aquarius in several posts on my wall. It supposedly links the ice bucket challenge to a satanic initiation rite that is bringing in the Age of Aquarius. I first thought it was a joke. Soon thereafter I stopped laughing and almost cried. Why would we promulgate such baseless, even hurtful message? Since facts are our friends, I want to ask my amigos that are pushing this conspiracy theory forward the following three things.

1. Why do we want to purposefully look like cooks?

One thing is to do it by accident, another is to make a concerted effort to look kooky, wacky or completely insane. I wish incidents like this would be few and far between. They aren’t. This is an opportunity missed. At least by some. Instead of building bridges and following EGW advice:

“Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is made manifest in works of mercy to those who need our sympathy and aid. This is the truth as it is in Jesus. When those who profess the name of Christ shall practice the principles of the golden rule, the same power will attend the gospel as in apostolic times.” (Ellen White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 22) we completely alienate and confirm in the minds of the already skeptical that we are not even worth a look.

2. Why do we repost dung?

I tried to look for a more dignified and spiritual word. Couldn’t find one. The apostle Paul used the same word when referring to something he considered worthless. So this situation qualifies. This story is complete fabrication. Just add satanic ritual and illuminati to pretty much any story and your will get people reposting it thinking they are doing the cause of Christ a favor.

You. Are. Not.

Review your sources. Ask a mature Christian. Think about it twice. Or three times. Once you post it, it’s hard to un-post.

3. Why do we care so little about evangelism?

It isn’t a secret that church we love is experiencing challenges, especially with the younger generation. That’s the reason many of us strive every day to engage unbelievers and share with them our wonderful message. Things like these are distracting at best and help no one come closer to Jesus. I know God can use anything to bring a person to Him, but do you actually believe that a person reading that made-up story will feel inclined to say: “Yes, all I needed was another story about the illuminati/age of Aquarius/satanic ritual to finally turn my life over to Jesus. Thank you anonymous creator of the story!”

One principle of evangelism is this. Jesus is attractive. Jesus changes hearts. Jesus transforms life. Share Jesus. Do me a favor. Please stop being the type of Christian other Christians have to apologize for.

Ha capturado la atención del internet. Todo el mundo lo está haciendo. Dado que la mayoría de mis amigos de Facebook y seguidores de Twitter son adventistas, he disfrutado de las diferentes formas creativas (y no tan creativas) en que las personas han tomado este desafío. El cubo de hielo simboliza la unidad y la solidaridad con los pacientes de esta enfermedad debilitante y mortal. Nada más y nada menos.

Entonces vi este reportaje en varios de mis amigos en Facebook: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=als%20and%20age%20of%20aquarius

Según unos artículos sacados fuera de contexto y simplemente inventados, se supone que el desafío de la cubeta de hielo es un rito de iniciación satánica que está trayendo la Era de Acuario. Al principio pensé que era una broma. Poco después dejé de reír y casi lloré. ¿Por qué deberíamos promulgar tal falsedad? Quiero pedir a mis amigos que están impulsando esta teoría de conspiración las siguientes tres cosas:
1. ¿Por qué queremos vernos como gente loca?

Una cosa es hacerlo por accidente, otra es hacer un esfuerzo concertado para aparecer chiflado, loco o completamente desquiciado. Dios nos llama a ser diferentes, no raros. Como quisiera que incidentes como este fueran pocos y distantes entre sí. La verdad es que no lo son. Esta es una oportunidad perdida. Inventos como este lo que hacen es enajenar y confirmar en las mentes de los escépticos que no deben prestarnos atención. En vez de interesarse nos ignoran. Perdemos credibilidad como iglesia cuando propagamos cosas que no son ciertas.

2. ¿Por qué ponemos basura como esta? Traté de buscar una palabra más digna y espiritual. No la pude encontrar. El apóstol Pablo usó una palabra más fuerte, estiércol, al referirse a algo que consideraba sin valor. Así que esta situación califica. Esta historia es completamente inventada. Perece que solo tenemos que añadir las palabras “ritual satánico” o “Illuminati” a cualquier historia y la gente lo pone en su pared como si fuera evangelio creyendo que le están haciendo un favor a la causa de Cristo. Por. Favor. ¡No!.

Revise sus fuentes. Sea un cristiano maduro. Piénselo dos veces. O tres. Una vez puesto, es difícil quitarlo.

3. ¿Porqué nos importa tan poco la evangelización? No es un secreto que la iglesia que amamos está experimentando desafíos especialmente con la generación más joven. Esa es la razón por la que muchos nos esforzamos cada día para conectar con incrédulos y compartir con ellos nuestro mensaje maravilloso. Cosas como esta distraen y no ayudan a nadie acercarse a Jesús. Yo sé que Dios puede usar cualquier cosa para traer a una persona a Él, pero ¿realmente crees que una persona que lee esto se sentirá inclinado a decir: “Sí, todo lo que necesitaba era otra historia sobre los illuminati / era de Acuario / ritual satánico para entregar finalmente mi vida a Jesús. !Gracias creador anónimo de esta historia!”
Un principio de la evangelización es este: Jesús es atractivo. Jesús cambia el corazón. Jesús transforma la vida. Comparte a Jesús. Hazme un favor, deja de ser el tipo de cristianos por el cual otros cristianos tienen que disculparse.


I’m a pastor’s kid. I’m also Hispanic. That means I have moved a lot. Over 30 times. So, finding out that a pastor in our union has more than 30 years in the same church was a revelation. His name is Andy McDonald and he pastors the Florida Hospital church, a church that has an international feel with a younger demographic than many Adventist churches. One of his associates has worked alongside of him for more than 17 years! (http://www.hospitalchurch.org/) From my interview with him I gained some insight into long term ministry. Here are seven principles you may find helpful:

1. Understand that not everyone is gifted for long term ministry. Or short term.

Some are. Some are not. Just make sure you are not leaving because of an ego trip caused by the next appointment being perceived as “better” than the one you have. Instead of going to a growing church, grow the one you have! That being said, long-term ministry is not for everyone. Other long term ministers in the Adventist church include Dwight Nelson (30+) and Henry Wright (20+).

2. See the church as a destination not a stepping stone.

One of the perceptions that Andy has encountered is the concept prevalent in our denomination that when you are appointed or elected to the Conference/Union/Division you have somehow “arrived”. When he started, the church looked much different than it does now, yet he always saw himself as being there long term.

3. Avoid avoidance.

One of the clearest benefits of pastoring long term is the elimination of the temptation to run from a problem and push it forward to the next pastor. Seeing yourself as a pastor in that community for longer than the customary 5-7 years, forces you to stop pretending, become comfortable in your own skin and start making the tough decisions necessary to move the church forward. Many times we make decisions based on the following (often flawed) logic:

“My church is not doing too well. Let’s change the leadership. That will fix everything.”

According to Andy, the correct question is: “Why is my church not doing well? Let’s work together to fix it. Let’s provide the tools and support necessary to make that happen.”

I believe this is not always possible, but many times we move the pastor during a downturn, reinforcing the concept that anytime the church struggles, a new pastor is the answer.

4. Keep the mission clear and primary.

I believe Bill Hybels said that one of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to detect atrophy. Andy has experienced several shifts during 30 years in his congregation, as it has grown. One of the best quotes from our interview was this: “Renewal always comes with mission.” When the church drifts is because there is not a clear mission focus. It’s the job of a leader to make sure the church keeps the main thing the main thing.

5. Take your job seriously, but not yourself.

To be able to pastor a church for over 30 years, you MUST have a sense of humor. You must. Cue laugh track.

6. The best thing about long term pastorate.

According to Andy, it’s “the opportunity for reinvention.” To be able to see the church grow, both numerically and in grace, and observe how it matures over a long haul is very fulfilling. To dedicate a baby, baptize him, marry them, and dedicate their babies is a privilege. To see the fruits of your labor as people grow over time is also very rewarding.

7. The worst thing.

Conflict. That is true of all pastors, but in a long term pastorate it’s accentuated. There needs to be a constant desire for reinvention and that means change, which is hard for people. For example, one year ago they moved to one kind of service. No more traditional or contemporary, but a blended service. They went through Messy Church (http://www.amazon.com/Messy-Church-Multigenerational-Mission-Family-ebook/dp/B0087OWGZI) which caused some angst and discomfort. Even the worst thing can become an asset, because after reinvention comes renewal.


So, how do you become a long term pastor? “You say no to all the calls.”

Questions for Andy? Here is his info: http://www.hospitalchurch.org/

When I was a local church pastor, at least for the first 15 years, I had never heard of PELC even though it is “the largest continuous gathering of Seventh-day Adventist pastors and leaders in the world.” PELC, short for Pastoral Evangelism & Leadership Council takes place in Huntsville, Alabama every year in December. I first attended it 4 years ago, haven’t missed since. This year’s event is Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm through Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Here is why you should go:

1. Some of the best preaching in the planet.

One of the speakers last year, preaching on Noah said: “Noah ministered based on imagination not memory.” He was talking about the need to be relevant to the present, not live in the past. The messages you will hear in PELC will move you. Some of the best preachers in Adventism are there. Great content, very inspirational, and being in a room with 2,000 of your closest Adventist friends is unbeatable. Check out the lineup below. Google some of these guys and you will see what I am talking about!

Featured Speakers: Dr. Ralph West, Church Without Walls, Houston, TX; Dr. Gene Donaldson, Capitol Hill Church, Washington, DC; Dr. Mansfield Edwards, President, Ontario Conference; Pastor Lola Moore, Panama City Church; Dr. Daniel Jackson, President, North American Division; Pastor Furman Fordham, Riverside Chapel, Nashville, TN.

2. It fosters diversity.

This is a hard truth no one likes to talk about. So I will. I often see minorities that attend programs/events organized primarily by Caucasians. Regrettably, I can’t say the opposite is true. It’s time to change that. This event, although organized and attended primarily by the Regional Conferences is open to EVERYONE. I don’t pastor an African American church yet I found the preaching, seminars and spirit to be both applicable and relevant to my own context. You will leave inspired.

PECL offers a Spanish Language Track, with engaging speakers and a separate program for spouses.

3. Price.

See below. There isn’t another conference that gives you that bang for your buck. None.


$29 Early-bird Full Attendee/Graduate Students now through August 28, 2014 $39 Regular Full Attendee/Graduate Students August 29, 2014 through December 4, 2014 $15 Spouse (when combined with a full attendee) now through December 4, 2014 $15 One-Day-Only (Monday or Tuesday) now through December 4, 2014

$10 Boot Camp now through December 4, 2014

To guarantee your place, please register ASAP. Register online or call PlusLine at (800) 732-7587. AdventSource/PlusLine will process registrations for this event through December 4, 2014. All major credit cards accepted.

4. Relevant seminars.

I sit in the organizing committee. One thing is clear: this committee (that meets monthly, year-round) goes to extreme lengths to make sure the seminars are relevant, done by practitioners not just theorists, and can provide principles that can be applied to the life of the church. There are also boot camps, that are longer seminars on specific areas.

Boot Camps: The three Boot Camps run from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. The cost to attend a Boot Camp is $15. They will run concurrently in three different buildings.

Taking Your Preaching to the Next Level Boot Camp: Back by popular demand! This preaching boot camp was so popular last year that the demand to go to another level was overwhelming. Dr. Knight is a gifted preacher who is just as gifted as a teacher of preachers. You will take home principles that will revolutionize your preaching. Don’t miss it.

Presenter: Dr. Wesley Knight.

Growing Your Church by Growing Disciples Boot Camp: Let Dr. Jones help you lead your church through the challenging process of change. You will receive cutting edge principles that work for churches large and small. You will learn to avoid the change traps that have plagued pastors and leaders. You will discover the keys to move your church from maintenance to mission.

Presenter: Dr. Gordon Jones.

Managing Change in the Local Church Boot Camp: Dr. Ross is a gifted ministerial director, pastor and presenter. His local congregation has become a model for healthy church growth. He is an authority on developing the local church by developing the local church members. His principles will teach you how to have steady growth all year long, without a public campaign.

Presenter: Dr. Compton Ross.

Who Should Attend: All pastors and church leaders are invited to attend.



5. Grace.

The theme this year is “3:16.” Each session and sermon is designed to help us discover again how the gospel should be at the center of every ministry and message.


I hope to see you there.

Next week: five reasons you should go to Evangelism Council.

Cinco Razones Para Asistir a PELC

Cuando era pastor de una iglesia local, al menos durante los primeros 15 años, nunca había oído hablar de PELC.  No sabía lo que me estaba perdiendo. PELC, (Conferencia de Evangelismo y Liderazgo) se realiza en Huntsville, Alabama todos los años en diciembre. La primera vez que asistí a que hace 4 años, no he faltado desde entonces. El evento de este año es Domingo, 8 de diciembre 2014 a las 6:00 pm hasta el Miércoles, 11 de diciembre 2014 a las 12:00 pm. He aquí por qué debes asistir este año: 1. Predicadores y presentadores de nivel superior. Tanto en inglés como en español, los mensajes que escucharan en PELC te moverán. Algunos de los mejores predicadores en el adventismo están ahí. Gran contenido, muy inspirador, y estar en una habitación con 2.000 de sus amigos adventistas más cercanos es inmejorable. Echa un vistazo a los oradores en español e inglés en la página de internet que está más abajo.

  1. Fomenta la diversidad. Esta es una verdad a nadie le gusta hablar. Así que yo lo haré. A menudo veo que programas diseñados por Conferencias Regionales no gozan del apoyo que debieran. Es hora de cambiar eso. Este evento, aunque organizado y atendido principalmente por las Conferencias Regionales está abierto a todo el mundo. Yo no pastoreo una iglesia afroamericana pero la predicación, seminarios y espíritu son aplicables y relevantes para mi contexto. Usted saldrá de allí inspirado, motivado y con herramientas. PECL ofrece todo un programa en español, y también un programa separado para los cónyuges. Presentadores como José Rojas, Alejandro Bullón entre otros han estado allí. 3. Precio. Vea abajo. No hay otra conferencia que te da esa opción. http://www.pastorsleadership.org/

Para garantizar sulugar, regístrese lo antes posible.Regístrese en líneao llamePlusLineal (800) 732 a 7587. AdventSource/PlusLineprocesarálas inscripciones paraeste eventohasta el 4 dediciembre de2014. Se aceptanlas principales tarjetasde crédito. 4. Seminarios pertinentes. Me siento en el comité organizador. Una cosa está clara: esta comisión (que se reúne mensualmente, durante todo el año) es intencional para asegurarse de que los seminarios son relevantes, realizado por profesionales, no sólo teóricos, y pueden proporcionar los principios que se pueden aplicar a la vida de la iglesia.

  1. Gracia. El tema de este año es “3:16″. Cada sesión y el sermón está diseñado para ayudarnos a descubrir de nuevo cómo debería ser el Evangelio el centro de cada ministerio y el mensaje.

Si quieres más información, escribe al comité organizador: EPoloche@sacsda.org

Si quieres ver el poster en espanol, haz un click abajo.


Espero verte alli.