This morning is just like coming home for me…
That’s how my message began June 13 on the lawn of Berkley Hills Wesleyan Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The occasion was a 20-year celebration of the ministry of Pastor Kyle and Shari Brown. It made me thankful all over again for the Church where I spent the first couple decades of my life.
There’s a culture of honor at Berkley. That Sunday morning, Berkley celebrated the faithfulness of God first and foremost, and then how Kyle and Shari have stewarded God’s faithfulness so that it was multiplied to make disciples. Participating in the occasion prompted gratitude in me for the many faithful pastors and churches to be celebrated across The Wesleyan Church.
On Pentecost Sunday, when we met globally TOGETHER as The Wesleyan Church to ask the Holy Spirit for us to be Filled and Sent, I emailed Kyle and received this response – “We had a really powerful morning commissioning 43 young adults who are traveling the country this summer telling people about Jesus! Keeping the Berkley tradition of raising up disciple makers alive!” As when the Church was born on Pentecost, Berkley pastors have sought the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the ripple effect of their lives is multigenerational, multiethnic, multieconomic, to women and men, lay and clergy, everywhere to everywhere.
When I think about the pastors connected with Berkley who invested in me in my teens and early 20’s, I recall:
- Doyle Brannon saw something in me. I keep a group photo of people who sensed a call under his leadership: Kevin Myers, Mike Engelsman and I eventually served as pastors of local churches; others fulfilled their call in the marketplace.
- Wayne Lyon prayed over several of us in front of Berkley and then sent us to launch Kentwood Community Church (KCC).
- Dick Wynn attended Berkley in those years and inspired me through Youth for Christ (YFC) and mentored me while I served with him on the KCC church planting team. (Dick was an ordained Wesleyan minister serving FT with YFC)
The uniqueness of these three made such an impact in my life by sensing my call, sending me to plant a church, mentoring me. Their investment in women and men resulted in multiple people ministering as pastors, missionaries and in the marketplace.
Their personal investments are what Dennis Jackson, executive director of Global Partners, describes as ICNU (“I see in you”) – one person speaking into the life of another. Not determining the call of another but affirming how they already see God working.
Have you ever participated, as speaker or recipient, in an “ICNU” conversation – “I see in you something you may not yet see in yourself?” We bring our observations to their attention and trust the Holy Spirit to bring what is seen to conclusion. These are often transforming conversations leading to significant spiritual discernment.
This August, we are launching a new opportunity for the TWC family called “Live Sent” designed to help individuals discover their calling and discern their next step.
Many individuals are led to focus on the local church, the global mission, or the marketplace…others are led to creative combinations of those callings. I’m grateful our local churches are part of the calling and discerning process – the credentialing we provide for ministry begins there.
I’m also thankful our educational institutions increasingly help all majors to sense a Kingdom calling. Just one of many examples is how Southern Wesleyan University is recalibrating to provide more dual majors (such as the collaborative effort of the Division of Religion and the Benson School of Business).
Recently, I invited Wesleyan pastors to share their “called journeys” with me – no two stories were alike, but all who responded could name a person who saw something in them and graciously brought it to their attention.
I thank God when I reflect on the investment and impact the Berkley Church family had in my life, one among so many others. I ask myself and you, Wesleyan family, “What could be better than ‘keeping in step with the Spirit’ not only so that we might be filled and sent personally, but part of the journey of others being filled and sent as well?”