Category Archives: Ministry

Youth Meetings

Evangelist Doug Lowery has been here for Spiritual Emphasis Week at Mentor Christian School and Youth Meetings at Bible Community Church. Last night he presented a very good training time for the adults regarding evangelism. His teaching was based on Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well (John 4). And afterward he met with the Christian Service Fellowship advisors. It was time well spent.

During that time, we planned out our week with the teens. Wednesday and Thursday we will have a time for training with the teens. Friday (see picture) we will be having an evangelistic outreach for teens. While I favor one-on-one evangelism over crusade type evangelism, I think this will be a good way to present the gospel to those who attend.

Please be in prayer for our teens as they invite their unsaved friends, the evangelist as he proclaims the gospel, and the rest of us as we seek to minister to all who attend. We hope that it will be an enjoyable time for the teens (we’ve been working them hard all summer) but also want to ingrain in their minds the need to daily be sharing the gospel with those around them. That’s a challenge for us as well. Thanks for praying.

Why would they want to come back?

Car companies are very interested in what keeps consumers coming back. They invest large amounts of money on research to figure things like this out. Will a hatchback, chrome wheels, or better gas mileage bring in the next generation? As important as research may be, I’m beginning to think that people are more influenced by good relationships than anything else.

I go to an independent who was with Saab for a long time but now has his own show. Our car has its occasional problems … but Adrian is always up to the task. He’ll offer used parts from one of the various cars he always has in pieces if he thinks a new part is unnecessary and the work is always finished when he says it will be. He’ll take phone calls at all hours without charge as well. In fact, his expertise is what the local dealer routinely calls upon as they have minimal Saab experience. To be completely honest, I sometimes feel that the two major, ongoing reasons for my loyalty and enjoyment of SAAB are Adrian and TrollhattanSaab. … There are LOTS of other interesting cars out there to drive but these two businesses certainly pull me back to Saab for the overall experience.

PT’s comments under ctm’s Saab experience in Sweden

During my years as a Christian, I have been a member of four different churches. At each one, there were people who visited and for whatever reason never came back. Why was that?

It is easy to place the blame on the individual. People often give in to the pull of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we’re honest, we must admit that these are formidable foes for all of us. We all know people who made the choice to give in to temptation and subsequently rejected the life of holiness appointed for all believers. Those things happen, but we mustn’t enjoy that they do. We ought to weep about people who have turned from the Lord and seek for them to be restored.

It is also easy to place the blame on God. What I mean is that we get so comfortable with God’s sovereignty that people leaving or falling away ceases to bother us. We’ve probably had “I guess he wasn’t really saved” pass through our brains at some point in time. But is that really comforting? Did Jesus stop weeping over Jerusalem simply because he knew their future?

While we do recognize God’s sovereignty and the individual’s responsibility, what about our own? Is it not the responsibility of the membership to make the local church a loving, joyful, and friendly place as well? I believe it is. When a new person enters our assembly, he ought to be greeted with kindness, but he also ought to see that God is at work in our midst.

But this is not enough to make a difference in the lives of those who attend. Follow the Lord Jesus through the gospels and you will see that he invested time in the lives of those around him and it made a big difference. Look at his interaction with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and Zacchaeus as good examples. These people’s lives were changed because one individual was willing to spend time with them loving, caring, and explaining.

So, the next time you’re tempted to place the blame on someone else, consider what you are doing in your local ministry. Spend some time with somebody. It could make the difference.

Bible Club in Painesville

When I was a little boy, my mom held a Bible Club in our home. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a great outreach tool as many children in our neighborhood were able to hear the gospel. It also helped me and my siblings as we learned not only Bible stories and verses but also to see the needs of the people in our neighborhood.

When Bible Community Church offered us the opportunity to host a Bible Club in our home, we knew that this was the opportunity for which we had been waiting. Today we finished the third week of Bible Club on Watson Street. Two families have responded to our invitations by allowing their children to attend. So far, we have had seven neighbor children attend. The program lasts for one hour after school, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. During that time, we eat snacks, sing songs, learn Bible verses, hear a Bible lesson, and play a review game called Zonk!

Just before teaching through the lesson today, I presented a diagram of salvation (which I happened to come up with during a Head Start meeting today. The motivational speaker had said something about God accepting everyone as they are, so I scribbled down a sentence regarding my disagreement to show to a co-worker. That led to me drawing the diagram you see on the chalkboard in one of the pictures.) The picture shows sin separating man and God. What the picture eventually showed was the shape of a cross encompassing the stick man and his sin and thereby connecting him to God.

We still have six weeks to go. So, as you read this report, please take a moment to remember us in prayer to the Lord. We hope, by his grace, to reach both the children and their families with the life changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a great opportunity!

Time Management

In his book, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, Bill Hull points out a common fallacy in ministry. “Activity is not always the answer to success. Pressing needs don’t always take precedence over preparation for meeting those same needs.” (p. 80) How true yet how difficult that is. To help with the struggle, Hull suggests four steps for pastors seeking to use their time wisely.

  1. Set goals that are scripturally based.
  2. Set priorities for the activities that are necessary to reach those goals.
  3. Develop a schedule that reflects your goals and priorities.
  4. Discipline yourself to keep your schedule.

Bill Hull, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1990), 81.

This makes good sense, but is difficult to actually do when a multitude of “needs” bombard the church office. We all might do well to remember this and pray that our pastors will be able to discern how best to use their time.

A Taste of Thanksgiving

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Psalm 34:8

The Lord has been very good to our family. As we look back on the changes that have taken place in the last year, we are more and more convinced that God does all things well. A year ago this month, I resigned as assistant pastor of our church. That was a difficult experience. However, as I look back on the whole situation, I am thankful for the the way God has used the experience to bring about changes in us individually and as a family.

During the last year, I have been privileged to work as a school bus driver at the local Head Start pre-school. That experience has opened my eyes much more to the needs around me and has provided opportunities for ministering to my co-workers. While not true of all pastors, it was easy for me in the church office to forget what it was like in the “real” world. Now I see more clearly the need to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without him, my neighbors, co-workers, and students are lost.

Sharon and I have also had the privilege to continue working with the teens at our church. Along with another couple, we are working on developing organization, teen leadership, and discipleship. Our church teens come from various backgrounds: Christian school, public school, and home school. That is a challenge but one that we hope to meet with the love and wisdom of Christ. Our goal is to help each student grow spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially as did our Lord (Luke 2:52). We also hope to develop leaders who will forsake themselves and seek to disciples others (Matt. 28:18-20).

The nursing home ministry continues at Salida Woods and Lake Med. The people especially enjoy seeing the teens and our own children. (I sometimes wonder if they are paying attention to me when my red heads are in the room!) Some of those who attend, I believe, know the Lord. However, there are several who are still blinded to the truth. As you think of our family and this ministry, please pray that God will open their eyes to their personal need for repentance and faith in Christ.

As we look back on God’s work in the last year, we also look forward to his plan for the future. Some of you have been too.

“Will you be taking another pastorate?”
“Have you considered a Christian ministry to children?”
“Would you consider becoming an elementary teacher?”
“How about becoming a military chaplain?”
“Are you going to work for the local SAAB dealership?”

Believe you me, I am as interested to know what the next step is as well. At this point God has not pointed us to anything different than what we are currently doing. But as soon as we know, we will be sure to follow him, wherever that may be. We appreciate your love and prayerful concern for our family. But until we know something different, we are content to remain here in the Painesville/Mentor area serving our Lord.

Your brother in Christ,

Andy Rupert

Windell Middlebrooks

In all honesty, we don’t watch much television. But when we are watching the Buckeyes (or recently the Indians) we have seen some beer commercials which were humorous. Today, as I was walking toward the Giant Eagle grocery store, I spied in front of me, the Miller High Life actor who inspects establishments which sell that item. He was walking in front of me headed in the same direction as me.

My first response was, “Wow, it’s somebody I’ve seen on television.” But that thought was quickly erased by the thought that, “he’s helping to sell something that has ruined many lives.” I’m not incredibly quick on my feet, when it comes to thinking of something worthwhile to say in any conversation. So, I was happy that he was already engaged in a conversation.

By the way, you needn’t worry as it wasn’t a commercial shoot. The Painesville Giant Eagle had just invited him as publicity to help draw in customers. But that experience did make me wonder what the right thing would have been to do. Dr. Ollila was always a good one to speak to Michael Jordan in airports and after Bulls games somehow. So, let me ask you. What would you have done if it had been you?

The Bridge Rally

When I was a teen, it was popular for church youth groups to host scavenger hunts and road rallies which involved driving around town looking for clues. The most ingenius was called “Who Kidnapped Coach Cooper?” Some twenty years later, all I remember is that it was lots of fun. I’d been waiting for my opportunity to host something like that … until tonight. Tonight, we hosted The Bridge Rally for teens at Bible Community Church.

This time, instead of using clues and a funny story line, we did an actual road rally. From what I could gather, a road rally is about precise time and distance. In other words, it’s not a typical race where the fastest car wins. Instead, the group which follows the directions usually wins. No street names or compass directions were given to our teens. Every move was based on the navigation instructions and the reading on each vehicle’s trip odometer.

We called it the Bridge Rally because the entire event was planned around an evangelistic presentation of The Bridge to Eternal Life, a gospel booklet developed by Dr. Dave Doran. Seven of our teens each prepared one section of the booklet after which I concluded with an invitation for each to turn from sin to Jesus who is “the Bridge to Eternal Life.” We are still praying that the Lord will use our feeble efforts to point someone to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you an evangelistic idiot?

At the 2007 Church Planting Conference at Grace Church of Mentor, Dr. Dave Doran spoke three times from 2 Corinthians 4. In his first session (which I just listened to this morning) he spoke from 4:1-6. I appreciated his encouragement toward steadfastness in the ministry at the beginning of the message. But I also appreciated the latter portion dealing with the success or failure of ministry. His point was that success is not achieved by our efforts. The Holy Spirit must work in the hearts of spiritually dead people or they will never respond to the gospel. With that thought in mind, he went so far as to say that “I am an idiot” if I place the burden on myself to win people to Christ.

Download mp3s of each session here:

Doran 1
Doran 2
Doran 3

What would you say?

We all struggle to know what to say to those who have lost a loved one. A friend from Tennessee is currently going through one of those times. He posted the following thoughts on his blog recently.

A good friend of mine will bury his daughter in a couple of days. She was 21 years old, was married three or four months and had just graduated from college.

It was a ten-day ordeal for them. She was on a lake in Alabama Saturday before last, boating, skiing and ‘tubing’. Apparently, while tubing (riding tethered 30 feet behind the boat on an inner-tube-like float) she struck something stationary with her head at 20 or 30 miles per hour. She arrived at the Huntsville, Alabama hospital in bad shape and comatose, but hopes were high. However, she simply wouldn’t stabilize enough for the surgeons to operate. About three days later, still in a coma, they transferred her by helicopter to the Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At Erlanger, they hoped to save her left eye and brain function. She did seem to improve, but the coma lingered and it became obvious that the eye couldn’t be saved. There were some hand movements in response to voices late last week, but she suddenly slipped into a deeper coma on this past Saturday. She succumbed to her head injury and infection last night.

What do you say to a person in this position?

I’m terrified to think about it. I’m scared to think about her death and I am very nervous about what I will say to him. And I’ll be going to the funeral visitation this afternoon.

Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.”

It almost seems trite. Flippant, if you will, to remind someone of this when they are at this point in life.

If I remind him that she is better off? Again, a little cheesy.
If I tell him that it will get better? Who am I to say that?

Tough. Very tough.

No doubt this will be a difficult time for that family. But how can a friend comfort them? What have you found to be helpful to you when grieving or comforting others? Are there certain things that are inappropriate to say and do? Feel free to share your thoughts so we call can learn from this.

Beggars and Street Preachers

If you have ever been accosted by a pan handler, you will understand what Mike Harden is talking about in “Rules for handling beggars of all kinds.”

According to Columbus Police Cmdr. Richard Bash, we don’t have to buy them 40-ounce King Cobras. In a news release on Monday, Bash exhorted the citizenry, “Do not give money to panhandlers. … Panhandling for drugs or alcohol is very common. Walk purposefully and with confidence. Give the appearance that you are aware of your surroundings. … Acknowledge a panhandler with a nod, and answer the request for money by saying, ‘No.’ Then walk away. Do not be angry or feel guilty.”

That’s good advice for those of us who have a hard time saying no to the “needy.” But in actuality, Harden is not really concerned with the commander’s advice. He’s more interested in making some humor about other “beggars.” After writing about congressman and street dancers, Harden turns his attention to perhaps the most obnoxious of all beggars.

Occasionally, Downtown, you might be accosted by a person asking, “Do you know where you will spend eternity?” Acknowledge the person with a nod and respond, “Cleveland.” Do not be angry or feel guilty. Many people spend eternity in Cleveland.

I recognize the humor in that statement—especially as I live near Cleveland. But the point is still well made. Most people are turned off by street preachers. Part of the problem can be attributed to the poor theology and odd methods employed by many street preachers (think Jed here). Although I admire their courage, they often misrepresent the gospel and bring shame on our Lord. But are all street preachers that way? Somehow I don’t think so. There are probably some who faithfully proclaim the gospel despite the opposition. I just don’t know of any.

So, what do you think? Is this something with which we should be involved? Is it an effective/appropriate way to spread the gospel? Opposition should not keep us from preaching the gospel. Our Lord told his disciples to expect opposition, but he also told them to leave those places where they were rejected. Honestly, I’m still thinking through these things myself.

Care to share your thoughts?