The Consistency of Prayer

The Consistency of Prayer – Gary Rohrmayer

Oswald Chambers wrote, ‘Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural.’ Prayer is a constant state of humility and dependence on our loving Father. When Paul writes, ‘And pray in the Spirit on all occasions,’ he reminds us of the four keywords for living a victorious Christian life: ‘pray in the Spirit.’ We define ‘praying in the Spirit’ as the means of praying the mind of God, under the will of God, by the continued assistance of the Spirit of God.
Now he adds that we are to pray ‘on all occasions.’ Meaning there is never a bad time to pray. Prayer should never be isolated to certain places or occasions but should be exercised whenever and wherever the Spirit prompts us to pray. Reflecting on the context of spiritual warfare, we can understand Paul’s urgency for ongoing prayer as our enemy never takes a rest from scheming against us. This is why we are admonished to ‘pray continually’ (I Thessalonians 5:17). As soldiers in this epic spiritual battle, our armor will function at a high level if we continuously communicate with the commander-in-chief. Soldiers on the front lines rely heavily on their unbroken contact with their commanding officers to help them navigate the battlefield. Without that unceasing communication, they could be quickly overrun by the enemy, making them vulnerable to attacks and ultimately defeats. So it is with us as followers of Jesus, the armor of God will only be effective as our continual dependence on the Father.
There are three strategies that Satan uses to attack our prayer lives:
  1. First, he will try to discourage us from praying. Have you ever thought that your prayers were useless? Do you ever get tired of praying prayers that go unanswered? Have you ever said to yourself, ‘What is the use? I pray, and nothing happens!’ Those discouraging doubts are planted in our minds by our scheming enemy. It’s at that moment we are to put on the belt of truth like David in Psalm 13, who in one breath said, ‘How long, O Lord?’ (v. 1) and in the next said, ‘But I trust in your unfailing love’ (v. 5).
  2. Second, he will try to distract us from praying. We should not be amazed that when we give time to focused prayer, crazy things happen. Satan is the master of distractions. Jesus asked his disciples to pray for him for one hour. What happened? They all fell asleep! Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matthew 26:41).
  3. Third, he will try to deter us in our prayers. Satan wants to weaken our prayer lives and does it in many ways: He will entice us into sin (Psalm 66:19). He will place idols in our lives (Ezekiel 14:1-3). He will cause relational strife (I Peter 3:7). He will seduce us to pray with the wrong motives (James 4:3). He will use our selfishness against us. Solomon wrote, ‘Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered’ (Proverbs 21:13). John Piper offers this challenge to our prayer lives, ‘Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.’ May we find victory today as we allow prayer to permeate our lives.
A 21-Day Prayer Campaign is an excellent time to renew your discipline in prayer privately and corporately. During the 21-day Prayer Campaign we hope to strengthen the private prayer life of every pastor, staff member, lay leader, and believer in our churches and strengthen the corporate prayer life of every church throughout Converge MSC as together we seek to stand victoriously against the schemes of our arch enemy through Jesus Christ our victorious Savior.
Check out one of our 21-Day Campaigns for your church to do this Fall and join hundreds of churches and thousands of believers in prayer.

The Preeminence of Prayer

The Preeminence of Prayer – Gary Rohrmayer

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always continue praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
On a daily basis, it is in our prayer lives where the battle for spiritual victory is won or lost. The absence of prayer makes putting on the armor of God nothing but an intellectual experience completely void of spiritual vitality. Remember, when Paul speaks of the armor of God, he is metaphorically speaking of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. We unlock the divine truth of the gospel through prayer and constant communion with the Father.
We see this truth come alive in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where Paul lays out thirteen of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Let’s take a quick survey: We are chosen, made holy and blameless before God, and loved unconditionally (v. 4). We are spiritually adopted as children of God (v 5). We find complete acceptance in Christ (v. 6). We are redeemed through the blood of Christ, forgiven, and given all the riches of God’s grace (v. 7). We are lavished with all spiritual wisdom and understanding (v. 8). We understand the mystery of God’s will (v. 9). We are guaranteed an eternal inheritance (vs. 11, 14). We received the Word of truth and were sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13).
At the end of this robust list of blessings, Paul offers a prayer of enlightenment. Paul does not pray for us to receive these spiritual blessings because he knows we already have them as chosen children of God. Paul prays that we will experience the wonder and depth of what we already possess so that we will “know God better” (v. 17) and so that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (v. 18). God desires that we have an ever-expanding view of his infinite blessings so that Christ will transform our lives. He wants us to be people marked with hope and full of assurance. People with unlimited spiritual resources and heavenly confidence, and people marked with supernatural spiritual power and unstoppable strength (vs. 18–20). He wants to equip us to be the victorious warriors God intended.
Just like each piece of armor can be turned into an intellectual exercise void of spiritual power, spiritual blessings can become lifeless Christianity through prayerlessness. Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.” Paul’s emphasis on the preeminence of prayer at the end of his study on the armor of God drives this point home.
If we are not regularly encountering God through meaningful prayer, the Devil is winning. He is out scheming us! He is outwitting us! He is robbing us of spiritual power and distracting us with trivial things. John Piper writes, “The devil hates prayer. Our flesh does not naturally love it. Therefore, it does not come full-born, complete and passionate from the womb of our heart. It takes ever-renewed discipline.”
A 21-Day Prayer Campaign is an excellent time to renew your discipline in prayer privately and corporately. During the 21-day Prayer Campaign we hope to strengthen the private prayer life of every pastor, staff member, lay leader, and believer in our churches and strengthen the corporate prayer life of every church throughout Converge MSC as together we seek to stand victoriously against the schemes of our arch enemy through Jesus Christ our victorious Savior.
Check out one of our 21-Day Campaigns for your church to do this Fall and join hundreds of churches and thousands of believers in prayer.

Juntos Somos Mejores – We Are Better Together!

Over the last year we have seen the Lord expanding our district into Mexico – 14 new affiliate churches in one year! This growth is God’s faithful answer to years long prayers of various leaders within Converge MSC. A very tangible fruit of this growth is the Converge Mexico Annual Conference. On June 1-2, Converge churches in Mexico held the second annual conference with the participation of twenty-one Mexican churches. Converge pastors and leaders from the US and Mexico collaborated together in planning, leading and teaching the plenary sessions and workshops. Even the worship team was a mix of musicians from the US and Mexico. This only reinforced our motto “Juntos Somos Mejores – We are Better Together,” which was emphasized all throughout the conference.

One hundred and fifty pastors, church staff members and lay leaders gathered at Iglesia A Su Imagen (Made In His Image Church) in Queretaro, Mexico to worship, learn, meet for the first time and grasp the vision of Converge. Pastors received training and at the same time were able to connect with other pastors from Mexico and the US. For many, the most important lesson learned was that they did not have to walk their journey alone. Six new Mexican church planters are now planning on joining Converge as well as other guest churches interested in affiliation. We are very excited to see how this movement is spreading and pastors are finding new friendships and companionship in ministry. As Jesus said in John 17:21-24 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

The 2024 conference is already being planned and we would love for you to participate. If you and your church are interested in partnering with the Lord’s expansion of His church in Mexico, please contact us to learn more. It’s an opportunity for you, a stateside pastor of a Converge church, to meet, encourage and hopefully become a partner with a Mexican pastor and church. During your time in Mexico you will attend and teach at the conference, and then be paired-up with a local church which you will visit and preach at on a Sunday morning. Or maybe your church would like to financially offset the cost of the conference, support gifts can be made online.

Please visit our new Converge Mexico ministries webpage to learn more and what the Lord is doing through Converge Mexico.

Healthy Churches have Healthy Pastors!

Healthy Churches have Healthy Pastors!

“If the pastor isn’t healthy, the church isn’t healthy.” This statement has never been truer than it has been in the last couple of years. Pastors have struggled to stay healthy with all the issues surrounding COVID, let alone all the other myriad of issues that regularly surround church leadership.  Some pastors have simply thrown in the towel and said “I’m done with ministry. It’s just not worth it”. How sad when that happens! Many of these pastors held those feelings to themselves and never felt comfortable talking with anyone about their struggles. Obviously, we want our pastors to be able to share with each other. We, as regional leaders, want to be there as well. But sometimes you need to talk to someone who is outside your circle, someone who has the ability to walk with you, confidentially, and spiritually.

Converge MSC has just such a resource, it’s called the MAP program. The MAP program (Minister Assistance Program) exists to allow pastors, spouses, and any children living in your home to do up to 9 counseling sessions each per year with a licensed professional counselor for only $25 a session. That also includes any other full-time pastoral staff at your church, along with their spouses and children as well.

Counselors can be chosen from a list you can find on our website Each counselor has been vetted regarding their testimony in Christ, their agreement with our Converge Statement of Faith, and their education and licensing qualifications. Each counselor has also agreed to the MAP program policies and procedures. We are always eager to add more counselors in our ever-expanding region, so the list is always changing.

We have sought to make the MAP program as “doable” as we possibly can so that you might say yes to this opportunity. You don’t have to be in crisis to use the MAP program (although if you are, please do). We know that it’s important to do an annual physical with your doctor to make sure there is nothing going on in your body that will make you sick.  We believe it is important to do a check-up to make sure you’re mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy as well.

The MAP program exists in no small part because of your generous giving. Each year we spend $20-30k to allow our pastors and families to use the MAP program, and we would love for that number to climb as more and more pastors and families see the incredible importance and benefit of seeking out counseling. So thank you for your generosity.

Pastor, we encourage, no, we implore you to not take lightly the gift of the MAP program for yourself and for your family. Don’t keep yourself from resolving issues, conflicts, tricky relationships, or anything else that you need healing from so that you might be the healthy pastor your church needs. You are loved!

Converge Celebration Banquet

Thank you for joining us for our 2023 Converge Celebration Banquets in Chicago and Orlando.

Our Chicago Banquet and the inaugural Southeast Banquet were both incredibly successful because of your attendance and giving.
The Celebration Banquet has been a pivotal part of Converge MidAmerica’s history for over 25 years. Representatives from our churches come and enjoy a meal, warm fellowship, inspiring worship, powerful testimonies, and challenging preaching.

Here are some quick stats:

  • Over 100 churches sent over 800 people.
  • Chicago had 650 attendees.
  • Orlando had 160 attendees.
  • Over $210,000 came in from our generous supporters. Your donations broke our previous giving record of $201,000 in 2016.

Thank you for making Converge MSC what it is today. Without you and your church’s involvement, Converge would not exist.
Special thanks to Wanda Manning. Her leadership over these years has taken this banquet to new levels of success and fruitfulness. Also, thank you to the Converge MidAmerica Administrative team whose servant hearts made this event special on every level.

Did you miss the banquet?
We’re sorry we didn’t see you this year. It is still not too late to give! 
This year’s donations are going to support two different aspects of our ministry:

  1. Church Planting Matching Grants
  2. Work funds for our 6 Network Leaders in Haiti who oversee over 300,000 churches

View photos from our Chicago and Orlando Converge events here

God is Moving: Hope Arabic Church

On the far right of this photo stands a man from Kuwait whose search for the Christian faith brought him to our doorstep. With burning questions and a deep desire to learn more about Jesus, he scoured the internet for an Arabic church, and it was Hope Arabic Church that caught his eye. Despite reaching out to them, they somehow missed his messages. Eventually, this man decided he needed to meet them in person, so he booked a plane ticket and flew from Kuwait to Michigan to meet their pastor — Avdal Boktor, whom he followed on social media — at a Sunday morning service. 

After attending the Sunday service and meeting with Pastor Avdal, they welcomed him with open arms and answered his questions. They shared the message of salvation with him, and at the end of the meeting, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

From that moment on, they continued to guide and disciple him online, with him returning to Michigan three times for intensive courses on the basics of Christian faith. On April 9, 2023, he returned once more to be baptized.

Throughout this incredible journey, they have witnessed the power of God’s hand in bringing people together across oceans and cultures. Hope Arabic Church gives all the glory to God for using them as a church and reaching the Muslim world from their humble corner of America. May this story inspire all of us to reach out to those seeking the freedom only found in Jesus, and may we be a beacon of hope for those who are searching.

May is Church Health Month

In an effort to promote healthy, missionally engaged churches we are encouraging all of our churches and church plants to join us in establishing a church health rhythm.   

Why May? May is excellent opportunity in a church’s ministry calendar to get a pulse on the ministry so that they have enough time through the summer to make plans and strategic moves before their growth thrust in the fall

What does a church health rhythm cycle look like?

Phase 1- Prepare & Take Surveys (Sometime during the months of May-June).

Phase 2 – Analyze Results (During the months of June-July)

Phase 3 – Develop Ministry Plan (During the months of July-August)

Phase 4 – Kick off, implement and monitor (Kick off in September and push hard to April)

Phase 5 – Evaluate through surveys and repeat process (During May – June)

We are encouraging all of our churches to establish an annual church health rhythm. The more churches we can get involved in looking at qualitative and quantitative growth issues the more focused we can be in providing resources, coaching groups, seminars and workshops.

I believe that in taking a close look at your church’s health and growth systems is key for it to be missionally engaged in God’s redemptive work in the world. I am convinced that if every church, big or small, would once a year survey 30 key players and influencers in it, an NCD would help them make the necessary adjustments, tweaks and changes to be missionally engaged. 

High Hill Christian Church and their NCD experience

Pastor Robert Gentry from High Hill Christian Church (High Hill, MO) speaks on his experience and journey with the Natural Church Development Survey, what he has learned and identified as growth opportunities and his experience with NCD coaches.

Our NCD journey as a formal Converge member church began in November of 2020, but in reality, it began many months before as I began to engage with Converge MidAmerica, the local Converge Together Group that I’m a part of, and some independent research of my own. At the time I was serving as the Executive Pastor at High Hill Christian Church and was looking for a way to evaluate the health and strength of our church. Our first assessment was on November 15, 2020. Two months after that I transitioned into the Lead Pastor role at our church.

Our first round of results was pretty dismal. I met with my NCD coach and went through the results. We then met with the coach as an eldership to discuss what the next steps would be. I tasked my freshly hired Executive Administrator to start and lead a church health team to work on our three lowest categories, as identified by the NCD. I also bought her every book I could on the NCD. Some of these answers are informed by my conversation with her. Working with Natural Church Development has strengthened our church from the inside out. It has helped us by identifying our strengths and weaknesses and then providing the structures to rebuild and work on those areas.

Since introducing NCD to our church, our growth has been phenomenal and we are currently seeing new faces and families every week. Sometimes as many as 5 new families a week, which for a church of 150 is a lot. Our church averaged about 110 in 2020 and now we average over 150. With this growth, we’ve introduced new structures to welcome newcomers and are trying new ways to better plug them into the life of our church.

The Health Team has also come up with ways to better identify our church’s staff, elders, and volunteers to the rest of the congregation. We have dramatically changed every element of our Worship Experience, (our lowest scoring NCD category two years running) from the preaching and worship, to appearance and volunteers.

The Church Health Team has given great insight on what needs to happen in and around our building, how we are structured and organized, and how we can love our people and community better. Personally, I love having a rotating team that has helped us see blind spots that our staff and elders easily miss.

Without Natural Church Development, we would probably be continuing old cycles and practices that would no longer be functional for us. We truly have the NCD and of course, the Holy Spirit to thank for all of the growth, new structures, and the current health of our church.

If your church is interested in completing the Natural Church Development (NCD) please contact us.

Three reasons to take the Natural Church Development survey

May is “Church Health Month” around here at Converge MidAmerica.  It is a season in our calendar where we encourage churches to take a close look at both the quality and the quantity of their church’s ministry through taking the Natural Church Development Survey.  Here are a few quick reasons for you and your church to embrace this church health process.

1) It is based on the most comprehensive church health research ever done. 

Over 90,000 churches have completed NCD surveys around the world. Over 47,000 churches have completed NCD surveys in the USA. Dave Wetzler, the USA Director of Natural Church Develop, reports that when churches have completed 3 surveys and two full cycles of addressing the weak system, they have discovered through the process that they see 85% of them improving in quality and quantity both globally and here in the USA. 

They have also discovered that churches that plant daughter churches – they have an overall average score of 55 or higher. When a church has a score at 50 (average) or less, they are still very inwardly focused on their church, their health and their ministry programs. Once a church reaches a healthy average of 55, they become more outwardly focused in reaching other segments of the community or multiplying through church planting and mission efforts. Conversion growth increases and church planting increases. 

Every time a church takes an NCD Survey, it adds to the research and moves us from guessing to assessing. 

2) It separates fact from feelings

So many decisions are based on feelings rather than facts. The NCD survey takes all those feelings that are running through the minds and hearts of your people and quantifies them. 

Church Health is measured through hard data as well as soft data. The hard data is the key statistics you track as a church: attendance, offerings, new visitors, members, baptisms, small groups and leaders. So every church has its own dashboard of stats that they are looking at frequently.  

The soft data is the quality side of your services and ministries. It is people’s attitudes, feelings and perspectives towards the programs, process and the personnel of the church.

People’s real attitudes, feelings and perspectives are hard to determine at times, especially in a church. So how do you get below the surface of what people are thinking and expecting in your community of faith? 

The NCD Survey does this in a very positive and detailed way. It gives you an overall morale number for your church and then drills down in revealing what your people feel are the strengths and weaknesses of your church at this time. 

3) It provides a focused pathway to strengthen your church.

Once the feelings and perspectives of your people have been quantified, now the church can, with laser-like precision, focus on the systems within the church that are weak and need some attention.

All too often church leaders are guessing rather than assessing. They are going on a hunch rather than accurate data. This will always lead to a backlash against leadership initiatives and possibly leadership itself.  

When you listen to your people’s feedback, you honor them and create a deeper level of ownership in the ministry of the church.

Focusing on the feedback of your key leaders helps you develop an annual ministry plan – a plan with clear goals, deadlines and delegated assignments to improve the area your people identified as needing strengthening.

A little focus can make a lasting impact. For example, developing a 12-month ministry plan that focuses on raising the temperature of evangelism throughout every level of the church helps shape the culture and raises the effectiveness of the church.

This month, we have a special promotion for any churches registering for the Natural Church Development survey! Natural Church Development surveys usually cost $400, but if you sign-up between now and the end of May, you will only pay $300. Additionally, if this is your church’s first Natural Church Development survey, the investment is only $250. You need only to sign-up now, but you can schedule the NCD for later in the year.

First Baptist Glenarden kickstarts Turkey-Syria Crisis Response giving

First Baptist Church of Glenarden (Maryland) has provided a $100,000 lead gift to Converge’s Turkey-Syria Crisis Response, according to Pastor John K. Jenkins Sr., who serves as Converge president and lead pastor of First Baptist Glenarden. The fund provides support to those whose lives have been turned upside down by the catastrophic earthquake that, as of February 15, has claimed the lives of more than 41,000 people. 

“This is one of the most devastating natural catastrophes of our lifetime,” Jenkins said. “Imagine how you would feel if you lost your entire family in one instant. That’s what happened to thousands of people. Forty-one thousand losses of life that we know of right now; that’s like losing an entire town.

“As the church, we are the arms and legs of the body,” Jenkins continued. “And we’re called to serve and help — not just in the moment of the crisis, but we will look at planting churches there that will help in the long term.”

Converge will work at three levels to assist the effort of our Turkish brothers and sisters. We will partner with Ilk Umut (First Hope) during the crisis response, which will include providing hot food, showers, laundry facilities, medical help and more. 

The next stage is partnering with the Foundation of Protestant Churches in Turkey to strengthen the churches directly affected by the earthquake and share the gospel in word and deed. A crisis is a great time for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts and minds. 

We also have a direct connection to a local church in Southeast Turkey through Converge workers. This church in a city of more than 1.5 million people will be a part of our strategy to start and strengthen churches in Turkey and Syria through these gifts.

Jenkins encouraged other churches to participate in the Turkey-Syria Crisis Response. By doing so, they will combine efforts to make a much more significant physical and spiritual impact than they could on their own. 

“This is how we show the love of God,” he said. “And we want to charge churches to be sowers. God will bring back a harvest.

“Psalm 133 says, ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in humanity.’ We can work and have a much greater impact if we do it collectively. So, we are asking other churches to join our efforts to help during this catastrophe.”

This article was authored by Mickey Seward, Converge’s Director of Communications and Point editor.

Mickey has served in ministry positions as director of communications at Mobberly Baptist Church, a multisite church based in East Texas, and as national director of communications for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Prior to holding those positions, he spent 15 years as a college sports information director.

New Nashville church trying to mirror New Testament church

Guess how Ramiro and Melissa Cruz would spend one free night a week.

Get some extra sleep? Nah.

Read that book? Not likely.

Binge-watch the latest Marvel show on Disney+? Please.

What then?

Hands down, the Cruzes would serve the people around them. They’d start a Bible study. They’d begin spiritual conversations. They’d volunteer to help struggling families.

When Melissa graduated high school, she jetted straight out of Chicago for Mexico. But she wasn’t heading to Cozumel, Cancun or Cabo San Lucas. Instead, her months-old faith, stimulated by the book of Acts, motivated her to serve Christ in northern Mexico.

When Ramiro is at the DMV, people stalled in the traffic jam of bureaucracy discover the tenderness of Christ. Melissa says his heart and personality turn most places into a pastor’s office.

The couple started their first church in Illinois. Then they moved to California to start a second church. Now, they are starting their third church in Tennessee, motivated by a strategy to minister to people as Jesus builds his church.”

Today, there are books, podcasts, conferences, and decades of research on starting churches. But the Cruzes first two churches started without all that. Instead, they simply helped others find the Lord’s love and power ― and people wanted that.


What do you want in church?

Eddie Gonzalez only wanted two things as he looked for a church near his middle Tennessee home.

He asked God for a church with Spanish-speaking people and worshipers that put God first. The Lord answered his prayer with Mosaico Church, a new Converge church near Nashville.

“Since the first day I went there, I knew,” he said. “I love the Mosaico Church family to death. Anybody I talk to, I can’t stop talking about that church.”

His parents left Cuba when he was seven and resettled in America. Throughout the ups and downs of his life and faith, one truth remains: put God first.

Gonzalez has followed Christ for decades. Now, more than ever before, Gonzalez recognizes transformation in his character and conduct because of Mosaico Church.

“God, through this church, is completely changing my life,” he said. “I know the presence of God is there.”

Who is God with and how?

The Cruzes started a church near Chicago and another in California before their third church plant, Mosaico Church, located in Smyrna, Tennessee. Their template is the book of Acts. The couple keeps learning from New Testament disciples responding to a God who dwells with them.

As a high school student on a church retreat, Melissa watched as a youth leader lit a candle in a pitch-black room. Cruz and the other teens were each given a candle and invited to light their candle from the only light in the darkness.

“I could clearly see I was part of the darkness,” she said. “For me, that was my moment of never going back.”

She never heard from that church again. There was no follow-up discipleship. She read a Bible her mom had given her, and the Holy Spirit worked through the New Testament examples.

“My idea of what a Christian is were the people in the New Testament,” she said of her early months following Christ. “The people turned their back on any other plans they had and followed Jesus 100 percent. That was the only version of a Christian in my mind.”

She graduated high school early and went straight to the mission field, just like what she saw in Acts and the Gospels. She arrived in northern Mexico, dependent upon God’s leadership and love.

Ramiro – while eating quesadillas – experiences God

Ramiro grew up in Tuxtla Gutiérrez in far southern Mexico. The town is 28 hours from El Paso, Texas, and 10 hours south of Mexico City.

Cruz entered a church building almost every day of his life. He read the Bible often and many people in his family followed Christ.

At 17, though, even with all his Christian influences, Cruz unexpectedly experienced something supernatural. While eating quesadillas with his uncle, aunt and cousins, a pastor approached them.

Before the pastor left, he told Ramiro, “I want to pray for you because God has something for you.”

“When he put his hands on my head, I started crying and I couldn’t stop crying,” he said. “Something changed in my life. Something changed inside me. I wanted to serve Jesus with all of my life.”

So, he moved north to study at a Bible school. But, God had another surprise in store. The missions organization that sent Melissa to northern Mexico partnered with the Bible school.

God must be writing this script.

“I met him the first week I was there,” Melissa said. “He was doing an internship, and part of his job was to disciple new interns, like me.”

The couple who celebrated 16 years of marriage in August laughs at her words.

“It’s a lifelong assignment,” Melissa jokes about Ramiro’s role in her life and faith.

Where is the Lord taking us?

Ramiro moved away to Bolivia a few months after meeting Melissa. They grew closer despite dial-up AOL connections and Skype calls in wireless cafes.

They got engaged and moved to the Chicago area. While waiting on the residency paperwork for Cruz, he and Melissa wanted to honor the Lord while the paperwork shuffled.

“We didn’t know how long that would be, so we started doing ministry while we waited,” she said. “Neither one of us are ‘sit still’ kind of people.”

A Bible study turned into a ministry that turned into a church for Hispanics, Ramiro explained. So, even though they planned to go back to Mexico after their wedding, the couple quickly discovered many ministry opportunities among Hispanics in Chicago.

They discovered the same in California and now in the Nashville area with Mosaico Church. Ramiro knows he and Melissa are a team with the Lord leading and supplying them.

“I cannot plant a church by myself,” he said. “We have to do it together.”

Mosaico demands more than just one night

In January 2021, the Cruzes were ready to act on their positive assessment as Converge church planters. So, they pursued a place to meet. Through Facebook, a church that converted a Mexican restaurant into a worship space offered it to the Cruzes.

Construction on restaurant 

But, after the Cruz family signed the lease in January, a significant challenge emerged.

Smyrna officials didn’t know a church worshiped in the converted restaurant. Therefore, a town inspection for code violations began. That process meant tearing up flooring and opening holes in walls and ceilings. The town required a $15,000 fire alarm system.

“It was very challenging,” Melissa said. “We went into the lease as a major step of faith financially.”

God provided for many needs through a Cornerstone Fund grant to Mosaico Church. The $12,500 grant could have covered the work the Cruzes anticipated. But the unexpected repairs and expenses cost the church tens of thousands of dollars before Mosaico Church gathered to worship even once.

Starting this third church plant has brought the whole family deeper into the Lord’s service. Ramiro and Melissa and their two children, Israel and Michelle, invested thousands of hours of sweat and energy into renovating Mosaico’s space.

Moreover, coordinating church volunteers to help the family work on the building left no time for anything else. So, Melissa had to shut down a staffing company she started during the pandemic.

Volunteers made huge sacrifices and contributions as well. People from the church worked alongside the family for seven months, making repairs and changes. To the glory of God, despite all the lost sleep and sacrifices, and struggles, the church had its first worship service in August 2021.

The Cruzes see many similarities in a new church plant and the New Testament church through the financial challenges and faith required for planting. Converge staff, Melissa explained, have directly and quickly helped Mosaico Church on very time-consuming projects and needs.

For example, she said Converge shares so many resources a new church needs. When the Cruzes needed an ordination process, Converge quickly e-mailed those resources rather than the couple reinventing the wheel.

“With one e-mail, you have it in your hands instead of spending weeks writing your own process,” she said. “They are there for us. I love it.”

Support like that keeps Ramiro and Melissa focused on the ministry and strengthens their faith in God as they press through the church’s early challenges.

God is with them in the challenges

They’re not alone with work, family, and financial stresses. Many of the people who worship at Mosaico Church know hardships and trials as present-day realities.

“They’re just arriving in Nashville from other countries,” Melissa said. “This is a very high refugee population.”

Many of them are applying for asylum visas or have received such a visa. They’re receiving help from food pantries, clothing giveaways, and other ministries.

But, through Mosaico Church, these new residents are learning something tremendous. They love to serve even as they’re receiving help.

“They are learning they have something to give,” Melissa said. “Serving others is teaching them to be givers as well.”

The foundation of such a perspective is the gospel itself. For people hungry for stability and in need of so much from God, the gospel is declaring truth and hope to them.

“They are very hungry for a message of hope,” Melissa said. “They’re very responsive to the idea that God has a plan for their life, and he knows what their future is because their future is completely insecure.”

She said many refugees worry about losing their visas, being deported or never seeing family members again. On top of such stress, getting to church can be a challenge because their workload for jobs and life requirements is much higher.

The Cruzes said many American churches can offer Bible studies, men’s groups or women’s groups to make disciples. But getting the Spanish-speaking people they serve into a building is often their first challenge, even if they understand why the community is so busy.

Gonzalez knows every labor and every challenge is worth the cost. He said the Christian life is not easy, especially for the many Hispanics in Tennessee who need a church. And he sees God doing so much, with the potential to do even more.

That’s why he believes Mosaico is a good church for him. He sees this church as a place where God is present and active.

A new church is one of the most effective ways for more people to meet, know and follow Jesus. That’s why the ten Converge districts committed to plant 312 churches by 2026.

“I see God moving. I see more and more new faces coming in,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a revival that reaches a lot of people.”

That ― more than the best show to binge or the next chapter to read ― is worth staying up late for.

This article was authored by Ben Greene, Pastor & writer, and originally appeared on Converge’s website.

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Mexican, Caribbean churches embrace Converge

Even 133 pages of bureaucracy and beliefs in two languages didn’t discourage Iglesia Reformada 2:42 in Mexico from joining Converge, just like dozens of Greater Caribbean churches have done in recent months.

The Chiapas church affiliated a few months ago, one of 68 Greater Caribbean churches in the last year. That total includes three other churches in Mexico, one in Belize, and two in Grand Bahamas.

“God has really opened up a lot of doors for us in the Caribbean,” said Ernie Cabrera, vice president of church partnership for Converge MidAmerica, Southeast and Caribbean. “We’re seeing a whole network of churches come and join us.”

Each affiliation demands significant administrative work for the church, followed by scrutiny from Converge’s regional staff. That paperwork includes dozens of pages, which someone must often translate from French, Creole, or Spanish. All that labor is separate from visits, text messages, phone calls, and emails.

The result is far more than paperwork: These disciples unite Converge churches so they can be better together.

There’s a growing gospel collaboration in Mexico

Twelve Mexican churches are in Converge, plus several more may complete the process by year’s end, according to Jessy Padilla, the director of Hispanic ministries for Converge Caribbean who pastors Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in a Chicago suburb.

In January, he will encourage and support 15 to 20 pastors and their wives at a retreat in Mexico. While he’s there, he’ll share the vision and culture of Converge. He wants those couples who often feel alone or disconnected from distant Christian organizations to find themselves within a support network of trusted relationships.

The Hernandez family, who co-started Iglesia Reformada 2:42, once found themselves in such a challenging, lonely scenario. The couple, who risks persecution and security concerns in Chiapas state, started their church without help from a Christian ministry or organization.

“We were praying for people to help us, to teach us and then Converge came,” pastor Jorge Hernandez said. “We needed some partners but also people with more experience showing us how to plant a church.”

He and four other leaders from Iglesia Reformada went to Cuernavaca near Mexico City for a Converge conference. That conference, the pastor said, is one example of how Converge leaders empower him as he serves the church.

Around Mexico, regular Zoom meetings are planned to connect pastors and support them with beneficial resources. In addition, Hernandez’s wife said the wives of Converge pastors have also come alongside her and other wives of Mexican pastors.

“They are helping us in many cases,” Pastor Hernandez added. “We are so grateful because of Converge’s support.”

Strengthening congregations is a Converge emphasis

Fifteen years ago, Iglesia Bautista Emanuel near Chicago planted a church in a small town west of Mexico City. The church now has a ministry in the community, a pastor of its own, and a building.

In addition, a young man from the church also received theological training in another state. Now he continues growing as a church leader. A Converge partner organization, The Timothy Initiative, helps that young man and many others learn to make disciples who make other disciples.

TTI’s two-year program in the Caribbean is available in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Dozens of pastors are discipling a few hundred people, stimulating hundreds of salvations, baptisms and more churches and spiritual leaders. In Haiti alone, 260 churches partnered with Converge in the last six years.

“I pray more churches in the United States see the opportunity that we have,” Padilla said.

In Mexico, such an opportunity for Iglesia Bautista’s sister church required facing many threats, Padilla said. People damaged the first missionary’s car, attacked his dog and denied him food and necessities. Nevertheless, that church persevered in the gospel, counting it all a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ as Lord.

Converge staff wants to see more and more local churches experience such a resilient vitality. So, the movement strengthens congregations through training church boards, creating LEAD networks and coaching pastors. Converge wants church leaders to form their regions, cohorts and church planter assessments or programs to increase congregational health.

“We allow them to be themselves,” Padilla explained. “Our vision [is] Mexico is going to produce their own missionaries, is going to reproduce their own church planters.”

Converge’s history has always been more about conviction than culture

The partnership with Iglesia Reformada 2:42 isn’t the first time in 170 years that believers muscled through paperwork. Converge grew as disciples new to America made disciples across subcultures and around the planet.

Today, the movement has more than 200 global workers focused on the world’s least-reached people groups. In addition, Converge’s 10 U.S. regions have united to deploy 312 church planters by 2026 and strengthen many congregations. That’s how more people get their name in the book of life.

“We’re just going to continue and bring on churches that are like-minded and have a passion to reach the world,” Cabrera said.

That’s why 133 pages of documents equal far more than paperwork.

This article was authored by Ben Greene, Pastor & writer, and originally appeared on Converge’s website.

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

You Helped a Church Plant Buy a Building!

Many of you have been following Adam Reardon’s church planting journey. He and his family have been real heroes for all pastors and church planters to emulate. They have displayed true grit in the midst of challenges. Click below to watch a video update on Adam Reardon and Redemption Church’s building.

Redemption’s offer on a building in Belvidere was accepted last year, and Converge MidAmerica was able to help raise an additional $95,000 for their down payment.

Interestingly, Redemption Church gave $5,000 to help Casa de Oracion with their down payment last year. Here is an infant church modeling our Converge values of generosity!

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Adam has had the privilege of serving in a few diverse churches in different roles and locations. In 2008, both Adam and his wife Audrey began to feel like God was calling them to plant a church in Boone County, Il. To confirm that call, they participated in a Church Planting Assessment Center hosted by Converge MidAmerica.  

In 2008, I invited Adam and Audrey to work alongside me and help restart Meadowland Church in Johnsburg, Il. While they only planned on staying for one year, God had other plans.  

After serving at Meadowland Church for almost six years, the Reardons sensed God was calling them to step out in faith and leave Meadowland to go plant a new church in Belvidere, Il.

After a lot of prayer and conversations, Meadowland Church agreed to release the Reardons from ministry and send them out as missionaries to Boone County. 

Adam is passionate about introducing people to Jesus, and walking alongside people on their spiritual journey. We are grateful they are still part of what Converge MidAmerica is doing!

Rise Church Building Fund: Will You Give?

Many of you have been following Converge’s Church Planting in Michigan. In the last twelve years, we have grown from 50 churches to 78 churches.
Rise Church in Romulus, MI, led by Pastor Aaron Hicks, is one of those new church plants with Converge. Pastor Aaron and his family are real heroes for all pastors and church planters to emulate. They have displayed true grit while facing many challenges. Because of COVID, they lost their meeting space and have been meeting virtually, yet today they have an opportunity to purchase their own meeting space.
Here is a video of Rise Church’s story:

As a new church, they need help with their down payment. They can make the mortgage payment yet lack the capital for the down payment. We are looking to help raise an additional $70,000 for their down payment. Converge MidAmerica is offering a Matching Gift of $25,000 to help them. If you would be willing to share this with your congregation, we know it would be a great encouragement to this new church in purchasing their permanent home.

Since COVID, we have been able, through the generosity of our Converge Churches in Illinois, to help two new churches secure down payments for their first building totaling over $150,000. We are asking all of our Michigan churches to help Rise Church through their generosity. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

Pastor Aaron, his family, and Rise Church are true heroes. Thanks for considering this opportunity!

Grace Church is Battle Ready

This article was originally authored by NCD International.

Grace River Church in St. Peter’s, Missouri doesn’t sound at all like the kind of place you’d find bloody wars or even a mild display of combative tousles. However, Chris Highfill, the founding pastor, is a self-confessed very competitive man. He’s a fighter!

But of what value is competitiveness when your calling is to build the church? Is there any place for it when you are to be a re-presentation of the kingdom of God on earth? To be the face of Jesus to your community?

There is a place in the kingdom for fierce competitiveness. And this is a story of defining the enemy you’re competing against, working out how to fight the right battles, and how to win… Chris lightheartedly remarks that, when he was a Youth Pastor, he thought his peak challenge would be to order the right number of pizzas and keep a bunch of youth alert long enough to hear the name of Jesus. Now, as founding pastor of a 7-year-old church plant, he has a very different perspective.

In his Bible College days, he had flippantly cast aside that “irrelevant thing called NCD,” but he has come to appreciate the NCD process as a gift, as it has played a crucial role in defining, and battling, the right enemies (and pizza shortage with a mob of hungry youth is not one of them).

For Chris and his team, the NCD Church Survey process helps to define their collective enemy—it’s not other churches, other local pastors, certain styles of music, the entertainment industry, social media, the government…The enemy is their own weakness.

The NCD Church Survey reveals where salt and light are most potent within a congregation. Obviously, that means it also reveals where things are darkest and specifically where the light must be turned up.

Shortly after they officially launched their community, the team at Grace River sought to get a clear picture of what they were up against. Over the course of the last 5 years, they have systemically identified what opponent they were facing at any given time—at times it was apathy due to a lack of passion, at others, it was stuntedness due to a lack of gift-activation. Then they faced off. Time and again, they stared down their competition and beat it. Their health flourished, their numbers grew, new and more complex challenges emerged, and they had new battles to face. 

The competition is not a race to numbers or recognition but a race to greater health. 

When you have had such a rapid influx of people joining your church as Grace River has had, the temptation can be to feel you have “made it”—battle won, trophy attained. But to Chris and the team, that way of thinking is a certain path to unraveling. The tone Chris speaks with is more of sober-minded urgency to keep alert. Keep competitive. Keep clawing at barriers till they crumble and a new perspective and experience emerges. 

The drill is:

  • Identify your enemy
  • Face-off
  • Have a Win
  • Celebrate
  • Repeat


The team at Grace River seeks to keep the prize in sight—health first, and numbers will follow. As Chris declared, “We don’t just want to gather people, we want to grow them. We’re not chasing a number. If we’re healthy, we’re making healthy disciples, so we’ll grow.” 

Today’s battleground

Grace River now faces the challenge of making its inspiring, empowering, and effective training ground, every bit as much a place to call home. Fortress and family. Home trains. Home prepares. Home matures and makes you ready for the challenges and opportunities beyond your own front door, yes, and home also deeply connects. Home deeply knows. Home shelters. Home heals. Home comforts. Chris is very aware of the many in their community needing a place to call home. He, himself, was a spiritually homeless child. Though surrounded by churches growing up—with the largest of them just across the road from his house—he and his unchurched family never received an invitation to come, to taste, to see—or to be seen and be heard. Today, he sees himself in the faces of the many young families in his community needing such an invitation to be part of a vibrant spiritual family. And he and his team are driven to create such a place for all.

Battle for homeland

For the first few years, Grace River called a temporary tabernacle home. First, four people were in their lounge room, then the local school, then the YMCA. But as their numbers started to swell, it became clear their own story would be reminiscent of the people of Israel who exclaimed, “Where did all these people come from? We haven’t enough room!” (Isaiah 49:21) So, compelled that this was the right time, they went hunting for their homeland. And the story of their journey as a faith community to their own Canaan (a giant warehouse on a main road with plenty of room to grow) will serve to keep fueling their hunger and confidence to make this homeland a real home—a place of deep affection and connection, as well as an effective Boot Camp from which to send people out.

Every argument and every arrogant, weak, misplaced, or ignorant thought getting in the way of feeling even more “intimately at home” is what they will be battling in the next round …and they are intending to win. They’ve won battles before. And they know their current enemy. They know how to fight the good fight. And they know how to partner with the Commander in Chief.

As the New American Standard Bible says, “…we are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Thanks, Grace River, for your allegiance to the King of Kings.

Thanks for keeping on in the fight.

Thanks for being a healthy expression of Kingdom competition.

Thanks for sharing your battle story.

May the joy of the Lord be your strength with every new challenge you face! 

Click here for more information about Grace River Church.

Interested in NCD for your church? Find out more about the NCD Church Survey here and sign your church up here.

Restoration and Resurrection

In September 2019, the unimaginable happened in the Grand Bahamas. A Category 5 hurricane sat on the tiny island with over 200 mph winds for two days, destroying and killing everything in its path. Although deeply damaged, Emmanuel Baptist Disciple Center itself SURVIVED. The local pastor, Pastor Israel Pinder, lost five family members from the hurricane, yet still faithfully serves his people amid his own pain. 

One of our Converge | MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean partners, Cecil Hollar, and a team from his church, Rejoice in the Lord Ministries, had the blessing of encouraging, supporting, and providing resources to the leadership at Emmanuel Baptist. Because of their partnership with Emmanuel Baptist, the team met with the youth and passed on a number of resources to church leadership. Much of Emmanuel Baptist’s congregation was uprooted after the hurricane when their houses were destroyed, so much of what Cecil and his team focused on was how to help the leadership reestablish their church after this devastating hurricane. Topics discussed included change that brings growth, spiritual gifts, and how commitment is the heart of the church and leadership. The team also met with 20+ church youth to eat, fellowship, and address the trauma they had been through due to the ramifications of the hurricane. They mostly wanted to talk about GOD with them, which was so encouraging to witness! 

Now the church leadership is even more prepared and able to more effectively serve their community than ever before. Worshiping on the final day they were there with the leadership and youth they met throughout the trip was powerful and moving. Some of the best news from this trip is that Emmanuel Baptist was able to finally rededicate their church building after almost four years, praise God! 

Plans are underway for future short-term mission trips to the Bahamas. Cecil and his team are working with Converge MidAmerica as they make plans for 2023 and hope to go every year as they continue to invest in their ongoing relationship with Emmanuel Baptist. 

Our God is a God of Resurrection and Restoration. We look forward to witnessing how He uses Emmanuel Baptist Disciple Center for His Kingdom and Glory! 

We invite all Converge churches to participate in partnership via Vision and Mission trips and financial partnerships. Your church can begin a similar relationship as Rejoice in the Lord Ministries has developed! Click here for more information on our Caribbean partnerships.

All Together: A Recap of our First Gathering

One of our values in Converge MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean is that no pastor would ever lead alone.

Although being a part of Converge allows you to lead alone if you want, we also want to make sure that this happens in spite of us, not because of us. One of the main ways we do that is through our Together Groups.

What are Together Groups? They are regional gatherings of pastors from church plants and existing churches that meet to encourage and pray for each other, learn from one another, and dream about how churches can be strengthened and planted throughout their region. We launched our first Together Group in Grand Rapids, MI in January 2018. Today, we have 20 groups in 8 different states (and the Bahamas) with over 200 pastors participating!

Praise God — because of His faithfulness and favor, we are well on our way to seeing that value realized.

October was an amazing month for our Together Groups. For the first time, we gathered our groups in 3 locations: Michigan, Illinois/Missouri, and Florida/Georgia for an event we entitled All Together.

We hoped we would see three things happen:

  1. We hoped to remind each group what is happening in their part of the region is being repeated throughout Converge MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean.
  2. We hoped to encourage each other that we genuinely are “Better Together.”
  3. We hoped to get some training on what coaching is and launch a new coaching system that will allow any pastor who wants to be coached the opportunity to get connected with someone to support them for growth in their work and call as a pastor.

Simply put, these three All Together gatherings accomplished what we hoped! At least 135 pastors and leaders met together including at least six churches that are “looking under the hood” to see what Converge is all about. We had 25 people sign up for our new coaching system.

You can sign up using the following link:

We were spoiled by the three amazing churches that hosted us. And best of all, we created stronger bonds with those we already knew and built new connections with others.

One pastor shared this: “I love that Converge offers opportunities for pastors to get together and be encouraged…I appreciate Converge’s heart for training, church planting, and dedication to church strengthening.”

If you aren’t involved in a Together Group, you are welcome to try it out. You can find the closest group to you by clicking here. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at May God continue to move in our district as we start and strengthen churches for His Glory!

Bryan Moak, VP of Church Strengthening

Reaching More for Christ: Hope Arabic Church

In August, one of our Converge MidAmerica pastors Avdal Boktor, Lead Pastor of Hope Arabic Church, hosted the Evangelistic Live Free Festival for the first time ever in Windsor, Canada. Since 2016 God has put on his heart to reach out to Middle Eastern people in Windsor. There are over 60,000 Arabs living there, and they are praying for God to open doors so they can reach refugees and Muslims for Christ. Last August they held a Live Free event and 90% of the 400 attendees were unreached and unchurched Arabs and Muslims. For most, this was the first time they had ever heard the Gospel. Their team shared the Good News of Jesus with them and encouraged them to start personal relationships with God. 

Pastor Avdal trained a small group of kids, ushers, a welcome team, and a prayer team for this event. They were able to collect contact information from attendees to follow up with them and ask if they needed any counseling, visiting, or a Bible.

The most impactful moment was when an Iraqi man accepted Jesus as his Savior. His wife was a Christian, but he was not. Whenever anyone tried to tell him about Jesus, he would always tell them, “I don’t believe in God.” He accepted Jesus one month after the event and immediately invited Pastor Avdal and his wife to visit them and offered to open their home for a Bible study. Now he and his wife are attending the Sunday service, driving over an hour just to get there! 

Hear what Pastor Avdal had to say:

“After a week full of good news, God touched a lot of souls through the annual Evangelistic Live Free Festival. Thursday, August 25, 2022, was the first time [this event was hosted] in Windsor, Canada. The event was attended by more than 400 people including some families from an Islamic background.

The Lord touched many hearts, and we saw there is a clear need to establish an Arabic church among the Arab community, which exceeded more than 50,000 Arabs.

We need your prayers and support to reach more people for Christ, especially in the cities where there are no Arabic churches. Thank you and God bless you!”

Please pray for Hope Arabic Church on December 16, 2022, as they hold a Christmas event where they will give away toys for refugee kids. They are praying for God to open the doors for toy donations for this event and that God will transform lives and hearts with the Good News of Jesus. 


Revival and Hope for Hope Arabic Church

This past August, Hope Arabic Church in Sterling Heights, Michigan, held a large three-night outdoor event in tents for the first time in the church’s history. Over 1,800 people showed up.

Many of them were Muslim, and the pastors were able to share the gospel with them during these three nights. There were also millions of online viewers through three different satellites the church covered all across the world.

Many people accepted Jesus Christ during the tent revival! The church had one big tent for adults, and another tent for kids from 6-11 years. Hope used their current building to host kids aged 0-10 years and also for high school students.

In spite of the challenges of finding a building for worship, Hope Arabic Church can see how God is using them for His glory. Their team will start following up with those people who wrote their contact information on connection cards in the coming weeks.


Will you be in prayer for Hope Arabic Church and Pastor Avdal Boktor that they would see lives changed and that God would provide a new building for them to meet in?

God is at work at Mosaico!

God is at work at Mosaico Church! 

Mosaico Church is a church plant launched in July 2021 in Nashville, TN.

Pastor Ramiro Cruz gave Converge MidAmerica an update on the incredible things God is doing through his church.

“In the last month alone, we baptized 20 new believers who went through the baptism class and committed their lives to Christ. We are thrilled to see the Lord transforming lives and hearts for eternity.

The kids’ ministry at Mosaico is exploding! We have nearly reached capacity for our space and either need to go to two services or change locations soon. We are blessed to have around 175-200 kids every week. Unfortunately, the building we are in is constantly flooding at the front and back, along with leaking from above, which gives us another reason to move locations.

We worked all summer on a new discipleship path for plugging in new believers and walking with them to maturity in their faith. We are putting this path into practice starting in September. Our greatest challenge is that what works in Latin America doesn’t work very well in Hispanic churches in America, and what works for American churches doesn’t work well in the Hispanic community, regardless of the location. Our goal is to create something that takes culture AND context into consideration.

Every church has struggles and challenges, but we are choosing to celebrate the many victories and God’s constant faithfulness. Thank you for your ongoing prayers, support, and encouragement for Mosaico Church.”


We are grateful for this incredible growth as a testament of God’s grace! Please be in prayer for Pastor Cruz and his congregation as they seek to spread the Gospel in their city.

“It’s no judgment and all love.”

Written by: Ben Greene, pastor and writer

Men driving well-worn work trucks glance around in search of scrap metal as they move among the generations of Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. They embody the work ethic and the community spirit of one of the Windy City’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Brandon Blessman, his wife, Rachel, and their children often see the scrappers circling their community. These are the kind of neighbors who wave and holler when they see familiar faces.

This family-oriented multicultural community mixes local ethnic businesses like Kabobi restaurant and Dulce de Leche Cafe with public schools and Chicago brick bungalows. The Chicago River gently curves around the north and east sides of Albany Park. Tall buildings are absent here, an architectural nudge toward neighborliness.

“It’s not fast-paced, it’s very family-oriented,” Brandon Blessman said. “A lot of people will stop and talk. As simple as it may sound, one of the things that attracted us was seeing multi-generational families with teenagers walking to school.”

Such sights compelled the couple to minister to the city they love. The Blessmans joined Missio Dei Church several years ago and started leading a gospel community in Albany Park. These believers intentionally emphasize what Blessmans calls “incarnational gatherings” as an alternative to more traditional Sunday morning services.

Now, two gospel communities of believers from other Missio Dei congregations have rooted in Albany Park. From there, a core team of church planters formed, paving the way for Missio Dei Albany Park’s first Sunday gathering in February, with Brandon as pastor of the congregation.

Pastor speaking 

Group of people at church 

A community that gathers people through the gospel

A few years ago, Dimitra Pietrucha visited a Missio Dei congregation with her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Glassburn. Now married, the two started connecting with the Blessmans’ gospel community, especially other young adults.

Pietrucha said she was eager to make friends, but she had experienced church trauma in the past. Moreover, she had a rough upbringing and struggled with addiction when she first met Missio Dei believers. Forming relationships with Christians stimulated nervous feelings.

“I was trying to get my life together and find people who could hold me accountable but also love me and not judge me,” she said.

Now, even after having problems while they were engaged, the couple is grateful for and confident in the love of God among their brothers and sisters in Christ.

“These people are like family,” she said. “I can literally bring anything to their attention and it’s no judgment and all love.”

Blessman said their vibrant neighborhood has a culture distinct from the other 76 neighborhoods of Chicago. But, beyond the warmth, many people still need more than a warm wave.

A community struggles with violence inside and outside churches

People in Albany Park are pained by the world’s brokenness when they hear of shootings like the Buffalo grocery store killings. On the Sunday after those shootings, Missio Dei Albany Park prayed by name for those affected in Buffalo. They also prayed by name for the victims of shootings in Chicago that same weekend.

“We pray pretty often that there would be peace in Chicago as there is in heaven,” he said. “The gospel is very much knitted together with the on-the-ground healing that God is doing in the world.”

Due to doubts or the harm many have experienced in past church experiences, a growing segment of believers are deconstructing their Christian faith. Blessman said these neighbors struggle with excesses of evangelicalism above and beyond the hurt and betrayal they’ve experienced from the church.

In the most challenging moments, a commitment to intimacy and Christ has always guided the church.

“It’s been challenging, but also beautiful,” Blessman added. “We think that Jesus is absolutely relevant and good in the messiness of life.”

Listening and love leading to spiritual opportunities

Missio Dei first met as a community of Jesus in Albany Park neighborhood in November 2018.

Since their earliest days, racial justice, human sexuality, conversations around poverty, the wealth-income gap and the segregation common to Chicago have all been open conversations.

“You probably wouldn’t come to a Missio Dei gathering without hearing about the very real things happening in the world,” Blessman added.

Such an approach generates spiritual opportunity along the way.

For example, the Missio Dei family includes some who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Even in the midst of much disagreement around this topic, all feel not only welcome but truly included as integral members of the congregation.

“That’s such a tough nut to crack,” Blessman admitted. “We want to be a community where all are welcome at the table.

Sunday gatherings engage worshipers through liturgy, shared moments

Since they started Sunday gatherings, an emphasis on authenticity continued. For example, children are welcomed for who they are — bundles of energy with thoughtful questions that defy programmatic event planning. Nevertheless, the church prays a blessing over them each week during worship, after which the children are dismissed to their classes.

Another habit of Missio Dei is incorporating liturgical elements into their Sunday gatherings. For example, the congregation practices call and response, saying the Lord’s prayer, reciting the Apostles’ Creed and taking the Eucharist.

Group singing at church 

“The liturgical is really compelling to us,” Blessman added.

Blessman said these Sunday gatherings amplify the life of Christ to enrich gospel communities’ experience together. These aren’t Bible studies, he explains, but moments for the family of Jesus to be who they are. What may seem all a jumble is an adequately contextual expression of the people of God in and for Albany Park.

“If somebody asks how to get plugged in, the answer is pretty simple,” he said. “Come and learn how to be in someone’s living room and share your story and share in their story.”

That’s precisely what Blessman and others see in the Scriptures. He referenced the tax collector Levi responding to Christ’s invitation by throwing a party, so all his friends could meet Jesus. Likewise, Missio Dei is a church that invites people to belong while they learn to believe and live according to Christ’s will.

“lf somebody asks how to get plugged in, the answer is pretty simple. Come and learn how to be in someone’s living room and share your story and share in their story.” – Brandon Blessman


Through the congregation, Pietrucha and her husband are learning to serve Albany Park friends and acquaintances with commitment and compassion. They’ve offered formula to families with young kids and given people a ride when they needed it. But, to them, it’s not just doing something trivial just to volunteer but really making a difference for people near to them.

“This is something for me to give back to the community,” she explained. “With these experiences of helping real people and people who are struggling, I definitely feel God’s presence.”

The scrappers and the struggling find grace and faith

The fruit of the gospel communities ― and the Missio Dei vision itself ― have generated life change through Jesus.

One of the smartest guys Blessman knows, a recovering alcoholic with a Ph.D., chose to be baptized at another Missio Dei congregation and join the Albany Park core team.

Blessman said he’s seen the Spirit of God penetrate the man’s heart and his whole countenance changed. In addition, Blessman recently officiated the man’s wedding, a powerful testimony of trusting Christ through relapse, rehab and redemption.

Another woman in a gospel community has had deep struggles identifying and accepting certain church doctrine. This, Blessman said, was the result of hurtful experiences while growing up in church.

However, she keeps coming even when her beliefs aren’t as clear to her as they might be to others in the group.

“You guys are my faith right now,” she told the community one night. “I don’t know which of these doctrines I can say yes to, but I can show up. Showing up is my faith right now.”

Blessman said he’ll never forget that woman who believed by coming when she couldn’t believe by confessing.

A pivotal experience for Missio Dei Albany Park is regularly having meals together. Like the party of Levi, the tax collector, Blessman said people are gathering with Jesus in ordinary ways and learning to trust him, even when they’re not doing church as they expected. Moreover, he’s seen people share resources to pay rent or buy a car and unite in deep friendships.

“These last two-and-a-half years [of COVID] should at least shake up our imagination for what the church is supposed to be in the world,” he said.

Missio Dei’s core team is discovering what the church can be in Albany Park when they live among their neighbors with an appropriate posture.

Albany Park is a neighborhood for both Muslims and deconstructors. Here, among the young and old, the white and black and Hispanic, some love Dulce de Leche’s fusion of Latin-European coffee culture or Persian and Mediterranean restaurants. At the same time, others watch the world as they study, work and connect with their Chicago neighbors.

“In major cities, like Chicago, the world is here,” he said. “You can see the nations in one place, interacting and living together.”

Still, Albany Park isn’t just for the students and strugglers or even the friendly scrappers in their worn-out pickups. This community is also where the Blessmans believe workers are being sent.

“We’re really compelled by this idea of God being at work before we ever get to a place,” Blessman said. “It’s his mission. It’s his work. We’re joining God as he makes all things new.”

Converge’s 10 U.S. regions have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years.


Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Step Up: Baptisms

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

This summer, God moved in incredible ways through The Heritage at the Hill event for the Sterling Heights campus at Freedom Hill Amphitheater in Sterling Heights, MI. Over 2,500 people came and experienced dynamic worship, games, giveaways, an amazing message, and 174 baptisms. This was the biggest baptism event in Heritage Church’s 22-year history! It was moving and powerful to see so many publicly declare their faith in Jesus. Baptisms continued the following week at our Imlay City campus event at Heritage at the Fairgrounds where 30 people were baptized. 

There were several impactful moments during the Heritage at the Hill event. A woman named Shae wanted to be baptized at Freedom Hill. The problem was that her bridal shower was that same day at 1:00 PM. She was so committed to taking her next step of faith that she was willing to be late to her own bridal shower! Her mother and other friends had a watch party while decorating the bridal shower venue so they could witness her baptism live. 

Dennis also shared his story with us. He stated, “I wasn’t aware of my need for salvation until my late 20’s. When I met my wife, she opened my eyes to the importance of giving my life to Christ and I was amazed at how my life could change when I started a relationship with God. In April 2014, I was saved. Although that was eight years ago, I realized that now is my time to step up and get baptized so I can show my friends and family that Jesus is my Savior!”

We love witnessing the Lord work in people’s hearts and draw them to Himself, and we can’t wait to see what God does next! 

The Beauty of Humility: Heartland Church

At Heartland Church, prayer is the vital foundation of their church and ministry. The congregation comes together for 21 Days of Prayer every January and August at the start of the new year and the start of the school year. They have witnessed hundreds of people joining in person and thousands online every day during their 21-Day events. They begin with a short time of worship, and then a short devotional time in God’s Word. This is followed by individual prayer time for about 30 minutes. Participants can pick up prayer request cards that people have submitted or walk to the walls covered in thousands of post-it notes and pick one. These are the names of people far from God, written on post-it notes by people who love and care about them. They then join back together for corporate prayer. This past season they “equipped God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” This mission was so impactful for their church body.

Although he had participated in 21 Days of Prayer individually since 2001, Pastor Scheske felt like God was calling him to help the entire church body focus on prayer. He realized that although he practiced this personally, he never considered doing it corporately with the church simply because it never occurred to him that others might want to come to pray at 6:00 AM. Inspired by a pastor he knew who was leading his church in prayer with hundreds of people showing up at 6:00 AM, Pastor Scheske took a step of faith and invited his congregation to join him in January of 2012. They have been doing 21 Days of Prayer twice a year, every year, since then. He shares, “There is something about being in a place where hundreds of people are hungering after God, and people of all ages and races together, seeking God. Grown men lifting holy hands without any division or controversy, teenagers laying hands on names of people on post-it notes on the walls–it is one of the most beautiful things to experience. This year we had many teenagers and children come out in the mornings. It was very moving to see.”


Pastor Scheske encourages pastors to take this step of faith with their churches and initiate a 21 Days of Prayer campaign: “There’s nothing more unifying for a church than praying together. It demonstrates that we depend on God. It turns up the spiritual fire in the church. Prayer is also one of the great ways to diversify a church–every culture prays and needs prayer. In a time of polarization and division, God uses corporate prayer to break down walls and unite hearts. People respond to the beauty of humility.”


Living Sacrifices

Our Story

B gave his life to the Lord in 2015. He lived in India for 3.5 years doing the work of the Lord with his family’s ministry. After returning to the US, he pursued ways to get involved with the local church, which led to many short-term mission trips. During one of those trips, the Lord confirmed his call to full-time missions and continued to open doors for that. Seeking formal training, he attended a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School, where he met K.

K’s relationship with the Lord began at the age of 12, and two years later, God began to stir her heart toward missions. Through high school, she went on a handful of short-term trips, which the Lord used to further confirm her call. She attended Grace College and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Intercultural Studies. After two years of serving in inner-city Indianapolis, the Lord led her to YWAM Kansas City for further training.

With their unified call to missions, they began their relationship after their YWAM training and got married in 2018. Since then, they have been serving locally at a church near Indianapolis, whose mission is to “lead, love, and launch” people out for the sake of the Gospel. God has been preparing them in a variety of ways for the overseas ministry to which He has called their family, and they are excited to join Him in reaching those who have never heard the Good News.

Living Sacrifices

“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Since coming to know God, our heart’s desire has been to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him in worship. When God brought our paths together, we were committed not to conforming to the normal patterns of the world around us. As we have journeyed with Him, He has been transforming us and faithfully revealing His will.

When K and I got married, we prayed and asked God to guide our steps as we knew cross-cultural ministry was the direction we were headed. The Lord gave us a 5-year vision. We thought we would be going to India to join my uncle’s ministry—and so did my family—but the Lord had other plans. During our first year of marriage, we tried to get connected with my uncle and prepare for our eventual move to India, but the Lord kept closing those doors. We got to the point where we realized we were trying to move in our own power and not with the Lord, so we surrendered it all back to Him. A year later, the Spirit nudged us to take the next steps toward our goal of moving overseas. This time around, we knew we needed wise counsel in the process, so we approached our pastor and his wife for prayer and wisdom. Through that meeting, God directed us toward Converge and the Missionary Discovery and Assessment (MD&A).  

While attending the MD&A in November 2020, the Lord once again confirmed our call as a family to overseas ministry. However, He also spoke to both of us that India was not where He was leading us in this season. We felt His Spirit directing us to the Spice Islands Initiative and spent the next few months praying, fasting, and seeking counsel through God’s Word and mentors. We knew nothing about the Spice Islands, and my family was against us going there. Our faith went through testing so that, as the Word says, we “may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As we have been preparing and partnership-building, we have experienced continual hardships in our families and household. The enemy does not want us to go, but as we continue to obey God and follow Him, He reveals His perfect faithfulness time and time again!

God has given us His heart for all peoples, and we are excited to follow Him to the Spice Islands for His glory. Countless inhabitants of these islands have never encountered the one true God. In light of this, the Lord has moved us to join a team of other believers committed to starting gospel movements among each of the 234 least-reached people groups within the Spice Islands Initiative in our generation.

Toward that end, our vision as a family is to cultivate a healthier and stronger faith, family, and fellowship among local believers, encouraging and equipping them to make disciples within their spheres of influence. We ask you to pray about how the Lord might be leading you to partner with us in this endeavor. God may be calling you or someone you know to join us!

Converge Caribbean Partners with The Timothy Initiative

At Converge MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean, we believe that the best way to fulfill the Great Commission is by making disciples who make disciples and planting churches that plant churches.

Converge Caribbean recently partnered with The Timothy Initiative (TTI) in training local leaders in Haiti and the Dominican Republic so they can equip Christians with the necessary tools, resources, and strategies to reach their country for Christ. 

The TTI training consists of eight “Training of Trainers” (TOT) sessions conducted quarterly over a two-year period. The first session was held from June 1-4 for over 100 Haitian pastors and leaders. This training is a shift from a pastor/church building-centered focus to a disciple/community-centered focus. The pastor then trains his “Timothys” and sends them out to make disciples who then make disciples of their neighbors, colleagues, and other people within their community. 

One group of pastors from Santiago traveled to Haiti for TOT 1. Tom Frakes trained Pastor Amos for over a year and during that time other pastors heard about the training and then began to train their believers to make disciples who make disciples. 

This past March Converge MidAmerica’s Missions Director, Steven Storkel, had the privilege of going to Haiti twice and the Dominican Republic once. He shares, “These trips were both very good and enjoyable, where I spent time meeting with groups of pastors, doing training, and answering questions. Most of my time was spent training these pastors in The Timothy Initiative material. These pastors are committed to a new way of doing ministry. This new paradigm of ministry is one with a focus on discipleship and teaching believers to be disciples who make disciples. There are four groups that I met with in Northern Haiti and one group in the Dominican Republic; all are Haitian pastors and congregations. Converge’s ministry in Cap-Haitian has been meeting for the past year and is the largest with about 25 pastors who are meeting and discipling 170 people. These 170 people have then gone on to lead 479 people to Christ with 225 of them being baptized and 338 of them being discipled by the person who led them to Christ!”

It is beautiful to see the fulfillment of Jesus’s words to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) before our eyes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic!

Perseverance for the Long Haul

This article was written by Rob Nash, a pastor at Sawyer Highlands Church. This article originally appeared on

Have you read that “The average pastoral tenure in a church is 3.6 years?”[i] Or were you aware that 38% of pastors have considered quitting full-time ministry this past year?[ii] How does a pastor persevere when the country has been ripped apart by division? How do we process those who have dropped out of the church in our hearts? How do we continue when our own family struggles with the demands of the church? How do we persevere in ministry over the long haul?

Dave Peterson is a great person to offer insight into our questions. I write that because he is retiring this spring after 42 years as the senior pastor of Centreville (Michigan) Baptist Church. Before Dave’s pastorate, Centreville’s pastors’ average length of service had been only a few years. But, of course, that says a lot; the church has been around for 170 years.

In 1980, Dave began his career with little experience, a wife, and a piece of paper saying he graduated from Bethel Seminary. He intended to stick around for a couple of years and move on like the 39 pastors who preceded him.

But God had other plans. His wife began to work at the library. He started serving on the school and library boards. Their family grew, and Dave fell in love with his church and community. He was all in.

He ministered out of his calling, not for the numbers. His church was small. He wasn’t pastoring for the salary or the parsonage either. He had to get another job teaching at the local community college.

Yet, God opened doors and poured out his gifts. People came to faith, grew in Christ, got baptized, and served.

Yet small-town ministry has not always been easy. Some members moved away, some passed away, some divorced, and some left the faith. That hurts when you have invested your time, energy, and prayers into people. But, ultimately, God is the one who builds the church, and the gates of Hell won’t prevail against it.

I have enjoyed getting to know Dave through a group of Converge MidAmerica pastors who come together around Converge’s vision and to start new churches and strengthen each other. He has shared with me his story of God’s grace and faithfulness and a bit of advice for us pastors:

What helped you persevere in ministry all this time?

“In reflecting on encouragement to persevere over the years, the Lord has repeatedly used 1 Corinthians 15:58 in a variety of ways as an encouragement to stand firm. It has been the word God has brought to my wife and me in times of discouragement.”

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

What has been the most influential book for you in ministry besides the Bible?

“Ten years into ministry, I read the book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes. It was powerful. Hughes laid a biblical foundation that numbers are not the best way to evaluate success. A more biblical way of determining success is dynamic prayer and the impact on the community. Whatever size of church you are, you can have both [of] those things.”

What would you say if you were to offer two keys to longevity in ministry to a young pastor?

“Expectations kill us. We get unreasonable expectations, and we suffer when they are not met. Instead, look to God for your expectations ― not human expectations.

Another piece of advice is to love the people. There was a time when people said don’t get too close. Don’t establish relationships. I think you should be genuine and honest with your people. You are going to be close to people. And one of the ways we could stay [in ministry] is because our people have reciprocated that [honesty and love]. Share in the heartaches.”

What advice would you give those who are considering rural ministry?

“Settle into the community. Be involved in the community. For a long time, you will be an outsider. People are all related, and you run into each other.” You will be in good company. Jesus was an outsider, too, ministering in big and little towns.

When it comes to bi-vocational ministers, what counsel do you have?

“Your other job needs to be seen as a secondary thing. Your primary responsibility is the church ministry and preaching. The church board needs to be in agreement with that. It can be a way to connect to the community. Life is becoming expensive. The alternative is to close [the church].”


I am so thankful for Dave and his legacy as a follower of Christ, husband, father, pastor, and community leader. His words are apropos.

The Apostle Paul, as he finished up his ministry, wrote some parting thoughts that relate.

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began (2 Tim. 1:8–9).

Paul and Dave’s words challenge us. We must remember that we are not alone in our struggles. We are in this together. Let us thank God for the grace at work in Dave, Centreville Baptist Church, and Converge. And let us join Dave and Paul unashamedly pressing into our calling for God’s glory, the spread of the gospel, and our joy.

[i] Cook, Dennis C. “Three Point Six: The Tenure of Ministry (Part One of Two).” Church Music Today,, 18 Jul. 2011,

[ii] “38% of U.S. Pastors Have Thought About Quitting Full-Time Ministry in the Past Year,”  Barna,, 16 Nov. 2021,

Forty-Two Years of Grace: Finishing the Pastorate Well in Rural America

This article was written by Rob Nash, a Pastor at Sawyer Highlands Church.

In 1852

● There were thirty-one states in the Union

● Peter Roget’s first thesaurus came in print

● Uncle Sam debuted as a cartoon

● Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin

● Calamity Jane was born

● And Centreville Baptist church opened its doors


One hundred seventy years later, Pastor Dave Peterson will be retiring as the longest-serving pastor at the Centreville Baptist Church. He holds the record tenure with forty-two years of service.

When the Apostle Paul was facing the end of his ministry, he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 2:7). From all accounts, by God’s grace, Dave has done that.


In 1979, Dave graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Bethel College and Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. While studying, he served as a youth pastor and then as an associate pastor. Not too long after graduation, he applied to be the pastor of Centreville Baptist Church. At the time, Centreville had a booming population of 1200. The job came with a parsonage and a modest salary.

Dave interviewed, they offered him the position, and he accepted. He thought he would stick around for a couple of years and move on like the thirty-nine other pastors who preceded him. God had different plans. Dave and his growing family fell in love with the church and town. His wife began working for the library. Outside of his church engagement, he taught at Glen Oaks Community College, volunteered on the school board, and served on the Nottawa Township library board. Later, he became the president of each. After decades of service, he retired from those positions only to be asked to run for the Nottawa township supervisor. He did and won and continues to serve his town faithfully. He is a community leader, pointing people to Jesus wherever he goes. Dave is a shepherd through and through.


Vickie and Carl Davis have attended Centreville Baptist for thirty-two years. Vickie said, “He is a great speaker, teacher, and caring friend.” She recalled, “One time, a bat came down from the belfry and flew around during the service. It was flying right at Dave as he preached. We have a pulpit that sits up higher than everyone. So, Dave was the bat’s prime target. Dave would sway one way and then another as the bat flew at him. But, he just kept on preaching,” That is the kind of pastor Dave has been. He keeps on keeping on, no matter what comes at him.

Mike Eley has known Dave for thirty-eight years. In his mortuary business, he has relied on Dave to help families in crisis and heartache. “He was very good at getting to know someone [who has passed away] through their family and providing [them] a meaningful funeral service… Most pastors are willing to fill the role [of doing a service for a non-church person]. But they all don’t have the knack to make the funeral about the person.” Dave did. He did because he knew his Bible, related to people, and took the time.

Rodney Chupp, who worked with Dave on the School board for about eight years, said, “James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. That verse embodied Dave’s service to the school… Everything is pressure-packed these days. You want to get someone riled up, tell them something about their kids.” With Dave on the school board, “People felt heard. He had a real calming effect.”

It has been said that behind every great pastor is a greater spouse. Dave’s wife is no exception. Karen “is a jewel. She has a passion for the needy and underprivileged and the unborn. Her love for the unloved goes so deep,” says Dan Peterson, Executive Minister Emeritus for Converge MidAtlantic and the older brother of Dave.


Gary Rohrmayer, President of Converge MidAmerica, once said, “You celebrate what you care about.” We want to recognize what God has done through Dave. It is extraordinary. We need to hear more stories like Dave’s.

A majority of pastors don’t stick around for forty-two years. LifeWay research published the statistic that, “The average pastoral tenure in a church is 3.6 years.” In addition, Barna’s research recently revealed that thirty-eight percent of pastors have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year.

Dave’s longevity and success have not been because ministry came easy. He has taken his lumps along with the joys of conversions, baptisms, weddings, and church growth. People have left, passed away, and hurt others and him. Finances have been tight. He had to approach his board about needing to work outside of the church to supplement his income early on. Yet, God has been faithful and blessed him, his church, and his community, all the while. Ultimately, God deserves the credit.


Join us in thanking God for Dave, his family, and his church. Let us pray that God will help us persevere and remain faithful for the long haul. Pray also that God would bring a pastor to bless this rural community so that another couple of generations would come to know the love of Christ.

Why Participate in an NCD?

My name is Gary Ricci and I am the pastor of New Hope Christian Community Church. Our church was planted in 2009 in Round Lake, Illinois. I was the associate pastor of another church in a nearby town but often came into Round Lake. At the time, Round Lake had 50,000 people, no churches, and was a working middle-class city with a strong Latino presence. God called my family to serve there, and after the assessment and fundraising process, we launched in October 2009. The church has been focused on reaching our diverse community, serving the felt needs of our neighbors, and raising leaders to reach towns like ours. We have since grown to a substantial size, own a building in the heart of town, and are involved in various church planting efforts and mission works. I am the original church planter, currently serving in my 13th year as senior pastor.

Our church recently conducted an NCD (Natural Church Development), an assessment of your church’s health based on an international study of 1,000 churches in 32 countries that discovered principles of church health that are universally valid across cultures. The research findings confirmed eight quality characteristics, or eight systems, that keep a church engaged in God’s mission in a healthy manner. We felt that an NCD would be beneficial because we had hit a stopping place in our growth and were struggling to figure out our next steps in hiring and strategy. It was recommended to us by Converge. I had read the book about NCD and was somewhat familiar with it from my previous church.

The first NCD we did showed us that we lacked effective structures. At that point, we were 18 months old and had grown from our 30-person launch team to a group of about 120. Our systems of communication, pastoral care, and finances were particularly stretched. This led to us hiring our first administrator and developing a more cohesive financial team. It also gave me back 10-15 hours a week to focus on outreach and discipleship. Within six months, our church started to grow again. Two years later, we repeated the NCD process, which led to us hiring a worship director and a full-time administrator. Each cycle removed a blockade for growth for us and we grew from 120 to over 350. Our decision to conduct an NCD was worth it, not just because of the successful changes we made, but the confidence it gave us in our decision making. We now knew why we were making the choices we were making. We also learned that we can’t grow deeper or numerically without taking an honest look at how we function. We discovered that there were many “unspoken” things we were all thinking that needed to come to light in order for us to change them.

I would encourage other churches to participate in an NCD because it reflects the truth about what’s happening in your church in areas you might be blind to because of familiarity or history. NCD puts these issues on the table and gives you the language to talk about them and the confidence to take the next steps. I don’t know a church that wouldn’t benefit from it. Churches that take NCD need to remember that it is not a judgment of your church but simply information to help you as you seek God.

You can find out more about Natural Church Development or register for one here.

5 Ways to Practically Participate in Church Planting Weekend

Church Planting Weekend is an annual movement-wide celebration for Converge. During the first weekend in June (or any weekend between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), take time during your services to share with your congregation about church planting and multiplication — what it is, why it’s important and why your church is involved — and your partnership with Converge. Here are a few ideas on how to highlight Church Planting Weekend in your church:

  • Invite a church planter.

Asking a church planter to come and speak at your church is a great way to celebrate Church Planting weekend. It gives a church planter the opportunity to share about their plant, and allows your church community to feel part of a broader movement of church growth in your region.  Feel free to contact me ( if you would like an introduction to a current church planter in our network.  

  • Share Our Church Planting Video.

Converge MidAmerica created a short video that shares the impact that being a part of Converge has on a new church planter. Given advance notice, we can customize the length of the video and even include a specially customized video specific to your church, with a video introduction from me.

  • Prepare a special sermon about church planting.

If your sermon calendar allows, consider highlighting the importance of church planting in a standalone sermon in your weekend services. We’ve even created a sermon outline and additional resources to help start the hard work of sermon prep for you– download your choice of three Word Document outlines under “Sermons” here.

  • Share about Church Planting on Social Media.

If it’s too late to incorporate Church Planting Weekend into your worship services, consider adding Church Planting stories and information to your church’s social media content calendar. We know how hard it is to continuously create custom content for social media, so we have graphics, videos and photos about Church Planting Weekend ready to post on the converge website.

  • Take a special offering.

Did you know that last year we awarded $515,100 in church planting grants?  We are only able to do this because of the generosity of our churches.  If you would like to take a special offering, we can help you think through how to do it. You can also use and share  this link:

We are here to serve you.  Let us know how we can help you celebrate Church Planting with us for this year’s Church Planting weekend.

God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

This story was written by Billy Hardy at Leaf River Baptist Church in Illinois.

I began serving the people of Northern Illinois at Leaf River Baptist Church in July of 2019. As you can imagine, being a pastor for less than a year when COVID-19 hit caused a lot of uncertainty. Like almost every other church in the country, we were left scrambling to learn the best ways to do things. We had already begun an online ministry before Covid, so we were somewhat ready for that transition. However, not really–our tools and abilities were greatly lacking, but our desire and focus were on Christ every step of the way. We temporarily paused all in-person worship and small group gatherings like everyone else. We remained online only for 13 weeks, looking for ways to be a blessing to the community around us. During that time, we worshiped and fellowshipped together online, like most churches.

When we relaunched our in-person worship on Father’s Day 2020, there were 25 people in attendance. I will say that as the lead pastor, this was incredibly discouraging. However, I had been there before. In the first month I was the lead pastor in 2019, there were only around 40 people in attendance. Throughout the rest of 2019, God brought people into our doors, and the church grew to a regular attendance of approximately 75 people. When we reopened the doors after COVID, there were only 25 people–that was hard to see. I felt as though the work God had done previously was being torn apart. However, God never actually stopped working. You see, throughout the time that we were closed to in-person gatherings, we not only continued to reach our budgeted giving, but we SURPASSED our needed giving levels. After meeting in person again, our giving levels continued to grow, which allowed us to spend our resources in the areas that we felt were necessary–missions and external ministry. We were able to add missionaries to our commitments throughout this process. However, it was not only the giving levels that grew. God continued to grow the in-person attendance, allowing us to receive 13 new members in 2021 and leading most of our regular attendees to return to our worship gatherings.

With these new members, we grew back to our pre-Covid attendance averaging around 75 people again. There have, unfortunately, been a few families that have decided not to return to worship with us. Some of those families found themselves worshiping at other churches that they felt fit better. There have also been a few that have not returned to worshiping anywhere. We have seen that those who were not genuinely committed to church have since left the church altogether. While it is heartbreaking to lose families with whom we have built relationships, it is encouraging to see the depth of growth within the others who attend LRBC. These last two years have been a fantastic time of deepening discipleship within the life of LRBC.

Now in 2022, we are about to welcome a few additional families into official church membership. Covid has not been a fun experience, but we have seen God work within the life of LRBC and those that call it their home. The spiritual health has increased, the financial health has increased, and the community impact has increased. While there are churches around us that are suffering, even coming to a place of almost closing–God is blessing LRBC, and we don’t know why. Research shows that many churches are closing, and many pastors are retiring early or leaving ministry after the last two years. The social and political upheaval has been too much for many. However, I firmly believe that when we remain faithful as pastors (and believers), God will remain faithful to us in ministry.

How have you experienced the faithfulness of God over these last two years? We would love to hear about it! Send us a message here.

What God Can Do With Small Things

This story was written by Pastor Jerry Troyer at Eastport Baptist Church in Eastport, MI.

We are a small church located in northern lower Michigan. This past weekend we saw God do things beyond all we could have imagined. To a sold-out crowd, we hosted our 14th Annual Sportsmen’s Banquet. The crowd was almost three times our weekly average, but more important than the numbers was God’s Spirit working through this outreach event. At the end of the night, we had over 30 spiritual decisions! We had anticipated a harvest as we prayed and sensed God was up to something special. Let me share two of those stories:

The first person, James, wasn’t planning on coming to the banquet, but because his friend, a sponsor of our event, couldn’t come, he passed his tickets on to James. Totally a God thing! James committed his life to Christ for the first time after hearing a clear presentation of the gospel. I’ve got a follow-up meeting already scheduled with him. James is showing clear signs of being all in for Jesus Christ.

The second story is about a couple who has been coming to our banquet for years. We had invited them to church many times and sought to meet with them after every banquet, but they always refused to come or get together. We finally gave up asking, but we still kept praying for them. Unbeknown to us, God was working all that time in their lives. In January of this year, they sought us out and told us they were planning on coming to church. Totally a God thing! This time they followed through and have come every week since. They have also brought their friends to church along with them. We have plans to help them continue to grow in their faith journey.

When we started this outreach, we never intended it to grow this big or to have the impact it has had in reaching those who would never enter the doors of a church building. BUT we have a GREAT God! I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg of the harvest that is coming in this age. To Him be the glory!


Is God working in your church? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a message here.

The KINEO Center

Converge MidAmerica|Southeast|Caribbean is thrilled to partner with the KINEO Center, a ministry created just for pastors and church leaders. With so many pastors suffering from depression and burnout today, KINEO’s mission is to provide a way for pastors to find rest, recovery, and recalibration. They desire to see leaders become healthy in mind, soul, and body as they shepherd their local churches.

Read about one Converge pastor’s experience with The KINEO Center:

“In January, my wife and I went to visit The KINEO Center to meet Dan and Tonya White, and to see and hear the vision of the center. All I can say is ‘Wow’! From the tropical rainforest setting (which was stunning) to the accommodations to the hospitality from Dan and Tonya, we were thoroughly impressed. But the real win for Converge MidAmerica|Southeast|Caribbean is the intentionality of the Whites to help restore burned out and hurting pastors and families. I look forward with great anticipation to hear stories of our pastors and wives who saw new hope and vision for their families and ministries because of the work of The KINEO Center. I also look forward to church teams using the facility to dream together about the future of their churches. Finally, I can’t wait to hear from pastors who just had a great time vacationing in a great place, served by great people!”

Ministry life can be difficult and lonely, so the need for the support found in Kineo is vital for all pastors and the future health of the Church. We look forward to all that God will do through this vital partnership.

Find out more about the Kineo Center at

Let’s Dare to be Dangerous

Max Lucado wrote, “This my God is my prayer. Draw me from Your fire, form me on Your anvil, shape me with Your hands and let me be Your tool.”

Now that is a dangerous prayer. Dangerous prayers?! Can prayer be dangerous? Is prayer SUPPOSED to be dangerous?

Any encounter with a Holy God can be dangerous—not in a life-threatening way, but in a way that can be life-altering and soul-shaping.

All too often, we pray safe prayers: God, bless me. God, help me. God, protect me. God, heal me. God, provide for me.

Dangerous prayers are risky and life stretching. Dangerous prayers come out of a spirit of brokenness. Dangerous prayers are filled with boldness and daring faith.

My most dangerous prayers have come in moments of deep frustration and seasons of brokenness. I pray more dangerously when I need to experience God’s light in my soul, his power in my ministry, and his leading for the future.

Take Jacob, who wrestled with God out of incredible frustration and the paralyzing fear of meeting his brother Esau. He clung to God in prayer as a wrestler grappling with his opponent—and in the process, he was changed profoundly (Genesis 32:22-32).

Dangerous prayers we can pray:

  • Mark our lives. 

As Jacob was humbled physically, he was reminded that he was also changed spiritually (vv. 25, 31).

  • Change our identities. 

Jacob received a new name, which reminded him that his identity was in God and not in his birthright (vs. 28).

  • Draw us closer to You, God. 

Jacob came face to face with God. As God’s great mercy was revealed, Jacob experienced a more profound  sense of intimacy (vs. 30).

  • Impact the community of faith. 

This event in Jacob’s life was memorialized. It was done to remind God’s people of this important principle: When the leaders’ lives are radically changed, it always impacts the people they are leading (vs. 32).

Our devotional book “21 Dangerous Prayers: A 21-Day Transformational Prayer Guide” explores the dangerous prayers that God’s people have prayed for thousands of years. We have broken down these dangerous prayers into three categories:

  • Confessional Prayers – “Lord, Search Me.”

Confessional prayers allow God to breathe into your life. When you invite His holiness, righteousness, and glory to invade your being, God exposes your needs and any obstacles hindering your life and usefulness in His mission.

  • Transformational Prayers – “Lord, Break Me.”

Transformational prayers allow God to shape and mold us. They seek God’s sanctifying power, strength, and grace as we work out the gospel in our lives through confession and repentance. They seek God’s leading by submitting to His Word and surrendering to His ways.

  • Missional Prayers – “Lord, Send Me.”

Missional prayers align us with God’s purposes. They teach us to rest in God’s power and presence as we advance His mission and promote His Glory. They position us to be usable by God in any way possible.


With our 21 days of prayer, we created a three-day cycle of “Lord, Search Me” –> “Lord, Break Me” –> “Lord, Send Me.” During those 21 days, you will pray through this cycle seven times, creating a transformational rhythm that can make you into a dangerous disciple.

Max Lucado’s quote refers to God’s fire, anvil, and hands. He gives a vivid picture of a blacksmith taking something that is absolutely raw—and with great care and precision, making it into something beautifully usable.

The first step to being transformed by God’s purifying fire is to invite him to search us. To allow him into the depths of our souls and cleanse us with liberating forgiveness. The next step is to ask God to break us on His anvil. To surrender to his transformational sanctification that shapes, molds, and conforms our lives into the image of Jesus. The last step is for us to respond to God’s call with a willingness to be used as his chosen instrument in His redemptive mission.

This is our prayer for you: May God’s fire purify your soul. May God’s anvil shape and mold your life. And may you become a useful tool, ready to be used in the hands of the Almighty! Amen.

Want a sneak peak into this 21-day devotional? Read below for Day 1 of Dangerous Prayers:


Day 1 – Search me, O God!

Psalm 139:23 – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 

There is no room for morbid introspection in the life of a follower of Jesus. Why? Because when we search our own hearts we can easily fall into self-deception. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” He continues, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Only God is qualified to perfectly search our hearts. David’s prayer acknowledges God’s searching power, admits that we are so easily deceived, and humbly submits to God’s truth rather than our feelings or perceptions.

Find time today to be dangerous! Pray this dangerous prayer:

“Father, I desire to be the best in what I do today. So I ask You to investigate my life and examine my deepest motives. Cross-examine my thoughts and give me a clearer picture of myself according to Your truth. May Your glory be revealed in me and shine through me this day. Amen.”

*For more information on creating a Dangerous Prayer Campaign in your church go to For more information on ordering Dangerous Prayers for $1.00 go to We have limited number of books available at this price. Please email any questions.

Four Reasons to Disciple Your Church through 21 Day Campaigns, doing a focused four-week series on a specific topic can take your church to a deeper level. Converge MidAmerica’s 21 Day Campaigns are an opportunity for you as the pastor to lead your church to a deeper level of prayer, generosity, and evangelism.

Here are four reasons to lead a 21 Day Campaign in your church:

1. They focus your people on their daily relationship with Jesus.

One of the critical disciplines in discipleship is to teach your people how to have a meaningful quiet time. Teaching people to feed on the Word of God and to speak to God in prayer is essential to move them on the path of maturity. During a 21 Day Campaign, you will drive that principle deep into the life of your church and give them the tools to help facilitate this discipline.

2. They inspire spiritual formation in the key areas of discipleship.

You cannot manufacture spiritual growth, but you can create an atmosphere for spiritual growth. In reminding your people of the essential habits of discipleship–bible study, prayer, fasting, generosity, and evangelism–while giving them useful on-ramp tools, you will ensure your church is spiritually healthy and missionally engaged.

3. They rally the church around a focused theme.

The prophet Daniel, who was deeply concerned about his people’s spiritual condition, prayed and fasted for 21 days (Daniel 10:1-3). There are certain seasons in our lives when we need to give focused attention to our personal spiritual growth and the spiritual needs of our family, church, and community.

4. They help you drive the vision and mission of Jesus deeper into your church.

Leading your church through a 21 day campaign allows you to shepherd and lead the church in a unified way. Campaigns give you an opportunity to lift your church’s eyes to the high calling of the church in a practical way. Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20).

I have said before, “The church is dying by assumptions!” We assume our leaders have meaningful devotional lives, yet they are spiritually drying up right in front of our eyes. We assume our leaders our getting into meaningful spiritual conversations, yet they have not shared their faith in years. We assume our leaders are tithing and growing in generosity. However, when a financial assessment reveals some of your leaders have no record of giving to the church in years, you feel deceived. 

Pastor, don’t let your church die by assumptions! Instead, bring focused attention to the essentials of discipleship.

Prayer – 21 Dangerous Prayers

Fasting – 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Bible Study – 21 Courageous Prayers

Generosity – 21 Days towards a Generous Life

Evangelism – 21 Days to Increasing Your Spiritual Conversations

Holy Spirit – Encounter: A 21 Day Fresh Encounter of the Holy Spirit

Bible Study – Cherish: A 21 Day Journey to Falling in Love with God’s Word

Spiritual Warfare – Victorious: A 21-Day Journey To A Victorious Prayer Life

P.S. All these campaigns can be done digitally.

Coping with Crazy-Good Growth When It Overwhelms

Growth can hurt as well as help.

Every pastor deals with the ups and downs of ministry growth and the anxiety that can come with it. Ralph Moore talks with Russ Shearer on the Thought Leaders podcast about his experience of rapid growth and transition as a pastor.

As a church planter, Russ and his team started out renting space for their church for years. After going through the ups and downs of the pandemic, their church started back with outdoor services at 50% of what they had been before. Just like many other churches out there, this took a huge toll on them. Despite all of this, they kept focusing on their mission, serving the community, and loving the people of their church and those around them as well. Nine months into the pandemic, Russ got a call from a fellow pastor asking to meet and talk. Little did he know that this pastor would offer Russ and his team a building for their church. This happened in God’s perfect timing because before they knew it, their congregation doubled from what it was at the beginning of the pandemic! With this influx of people, Russ quickly realized that they had to figure out how to physically and spiritually take care of the people coming to them with minimal staffing. This sudden growth became a catalyst for officially launching the church and its leaders and created a “perfect storm” of momentum to move things forward and point people to Jesus.

Russ shares some things to remember:

  • People are hungry for hope right now. Use this time of isolation and fear to point people to Jesus. People are longing for community and connection like they never have before.
  • Online churches are not working as well for younger people. The micro-church model elevates the idea that church still happens when believers get together and allows pastors to share in the care of their congregation with other leaders.
  • Teach on tithing and giving consistently so that your church’s financial growth is balanced with your physical growth.
  • Effective systems are important, but still encourage your leaders to continue to pour into others.


We hope this story will be an encouragement and help you better handle what to do when sudden, exciting, and unexpected growth happens. Want to hear more? Check out the Thought Leaders podcast @

Meet Barb Ehlers, Church Relationship Catalyst

We are thrilled to announce Barb Ehlers’ new role as a Church Relationship Catalyst for the US Engagement team with Converge International Ministries.

Barb Ehlers lives in the Chicagoland area and is married to Pat Ehlers. They have three boys: David, 32 (married to Franchesca with two girls, Leah and Audra), Jordan, 25, and Jonathan,19. She and her husband met at their church where she has been leading, coaching and mentoring in the Jr. High and High School Ministry for 25 years.

After serving as the Relationship Specialist with the Converge Cornerstone Fund for the past eight years, Barb has met hundreds of pastors and has come to deeply understand the unique challenges they face. Over the past two years, she has felt God moving in her heart and calling her to serve Him in a new direction. She is so excited to join the U.S. Engagement Team! She will help build strategic connections and greater awareness between Converge churches and their International Ministry Initiatives. She desires to walk alongside Converge missionaries and advocate for them with our churches and districts so they can confidently face the mission field using the gifts and passions God has blessed them with while helping others know and follow Jesus.

The U.S. Engagement team’s goal is to connect churches with global missionaries and their projects. They do this by helping coach churches on how to increase the impact of their mission through their free 2:10 FOCUS coaching process that is offered to any church interested. Missions is an extension of the local church, and the team desires to empower the local church to engage with global missions so that they can reach the lost for Christ here, near, and FAR just as Christ has asked us to do in the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission. By helping more churches engage in global missions, they will fully staff and fully fund 20 worldwide regional Initiatives with more than 400 missionaries by 2026.

If you would like to get in touch with Barb, she is still in her ministry partner development role and is praying that God will provide individuals and churches that feel led to be ministry partners with her financially and through prayer so that she can begin the work that she feels like the Lord has called her to. If your church wants to know more about the global work of Converge IM or how to become a ministry partner, please get in touch with her at or check out her ministry page at

A Heart for Missions: Willing Servants and a Creative Community

Temple Hill Baptist Church in Cadillac, Michigan has been doing a Missions Garage Sale at the end of August for several years. The purpose of the annual garage sale is twofold: provide affordable items for those in their community, and raise Christmas funds to encourage the missionary families they support. 

At the beginning of 2021, a few members of Temple Hill recognized that 2020 had been a really challenging year for most missionaries. Deciding they wanted to go above and beyond to bless the missionaries in Temple Hill’s care, they thought of a creative solution to provide more encouragement and funding for these missionaries who had sacrificed so much for the gospel in the previous year—a Missions Auction!

The Missions Auction would be different from the garage sale in that it would raise even more money by auctioning off newer and bigger-ticket items. Asking the Lord to bless their efforts, they began planning and asking church and community members to donate to the auction. Their goal was to raise $12,000, which would provide each of the 12 missionary families $1,000.

Although items didn’t come in as quickly as they had hoped, by the time of the auction the church and community had donated over 250 items for auction, twice as many as they had hoped for! The planners of the Missions Auction weren’t the only ones thinking creatively. Items for auction ranged from “a pie a month for a year,” to gift baskets, vacation rentals, and firewood. It was clear the church and community had used their resources and talents to contribute to the cause!

The Missions Auction was held online first, and then in-person. Less than 24 hours into the online portion of the auction, the church had already almost met their $12,000 goal! When all was said and done, they had raised over $28,000 for their missionaries—enough to provide each of their missionaries with $2,600-$2,800!

What an example of what God can do through a few willing servants and a creative and generous community of believers! How might you and your community use your resources and creativity to support missions this year?

2021 Year in Review

Before we hit the ground running in 2022, let’s take a look back at all that God has done in 2021 through Converge MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean! We are beyond thankful for the miraculous ways He has worked in the hearts of His people the past year, even in the midst of navigating all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. 

Here are just a few of the highlights: 

  • At Next Steps Orlando and Chicago, many pastors, church planters, and leaders came together to learn about outreach, missions, church systems, leadership development, and more. The relationships and meaningful conversations that came out of these events will last far past 2021. 
  • At Connect 2021, hundreds gathered in three locations around the globe in Geneva, IL; Orlando, FL; and Haiti for our tri-annual meeting. We experienced what God can do when we show up, advance on our knees, strive towards unity, grow in generosity, and realize that we are better together
  • In July 2021, our African American pastors and their wives gathered in Detroit for a time of fellowship and teaching. Pastors came away refreshed, supported, and encouraged from their time together. We hope to have more of these gatherings in 2022!
  • Our monthly virtual prayer gatherings were a powerful time of fellowship with our Father and each other. Converge MidAmerica | Southeast | Caribbean is nothing without the foundation of prayer
  • Converge churches came together to provide hurricane relief in the Caribbean and tornado relief in Kentucky. In the Caribbean, churches established a hurricane relief fund that supplied food, shelter, and medical help, and they rebuilt houses and churches. A similar fund was also used for food, shelter, medical help, and other needs due to the recent devastating tornado in Kentucky. This most recent fund exceeded our giving expectations and raised $27,719! Wow! It was encouraging to see so many churches step in and be the hands and feet of Jesus in so many ways this past year. 
  • Finally, our year-end giving campaign for the Minister’s Assistance Program went above and beyond what we ever imagined—you all gave $22,105 towards pastors and their families’ healing through counseling in 2022. A generous donor matched $20,000 of that total as well! Thank you for your generosity! God did more than we could have ever asked or imagined, and He did it through you.

We are trusting and believing that God will continue to do beyond all that we can ask, think, or imagine in 2022. We can’t wait to see how He will accomplish His purpose, and we pray that He will use all of us to share His hope and love in our churches and beyond!

Great progress, greater opportunities

Written by Ben Greene

Outside South Carolina’s first Converge church, Hurricane Florence was thrashing pines and palmettos. But inside, Source Connection was worshiping Jesus for the first time.

Pastor Paul Foster never expected a hurricane during the first-ever service. Neither did he aspire to start a Converge church where there were none.

“I became aware later that our church would be the first Converge church in the entire state of South Carolina,” Foster said. “It put more pressure on me, but I love that. I think it is important (for Converge) to be represented in all the states.”

Just like Foster, today’s leaders are praying and pursuing churches where Converge doesn’t yet have a church. That includes Oklahoma, West Virginia, Nevada, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Today, only five states lack a Converge church because believers have started and strengthened churches together for 150 years. Converge began among Swedish people in Iowa and Minnesota. But they focused on going in all four directions to make disciples from many ethnic identities.

In January 2020, the 10 Converge districts announced they had committed to starting 312 churches before 2026. This unified goal reflects a desire for more people to know Jesus’ love and serve him. Across the movement, district staff consistently pray, deploy resources and apply historically validated wisdom to start churches.

Choosing the right strategy for starting churches
Brian Weber, Converge MidAtlantic’s regional president, pastored a Philadelphia church that joined Converge in the early 2000s. That’s the first, and often best, method to see a new, thriving Converge church.

When a healthy church embraces Converge, they become a flagship church, Weber said. This was the case in Philadelphia since there were no Converge churches in southeast Pennsylvania or south New Jersey and only one in Delaware.

In the years to come, Weber and his church started new churches or encouraged other congregations to join Converge.

Other options, Weber said, is Converge resourcing the revitalization of a struggling church or starting an evangelistic mission among people with a goal to become a church.

Finally, God sometimes provides a pioneer who “parachutes” into a state without supportive churches nearby. For example, Michael Henderson started a church using this method in North Carolina.

For the team who went with Henderson, New Beginnings Church became vibrant. Then, New Beginnings steadily generated momentum for new churches in Charlotte. Eventually, God brought Foster to create a church across the border in South Carolina.

Before Foster and his wife started Source Connection in 2018, he pastored an existing church in the state. But the Fosters felt led to start a new church. They planned to be independent and rent a hotel conference room until a friend spoke up.

“No, no, Paul,” she said to him. “Let me introduce you to how to plant a church.”

It turns out his friend was an evaluator at the Converge Church Planting Assessment Center. She introduced the Fosters to her pastor, Michael Henderson.

The basic church planting strategy, Weber said, is to identify a border town with a parent church nearby. Then, the churches function like stepping stones across a stream.

In West Virginia, Weber looks for churches with a similar culture to Converge, especially in Morgantown or Charleston. He also has relationships with churches in Maryland and Virginia, close enough to help with a new West Virginia church.

“The Lord’s going to provide one of these options,” Weber said.

How do Converge leaders share our unique identity?
Jim Capaldo, Converge Heartland regional president, sees how shared culture and geography similarly impact Oklahoma. Like West Virginia and South Carolina, many Baptistic churches are already aligned with denominations more common in the South.

A part of Converge’s prayer and relationship building in the five states is to help people appreciate the movement’s strengths and unique culture.

“People don’t know what our culture is,” Capaldo said. “They haven’t experienced it. So, you’ve got to create a presence somehow that invokes somebody to explore Converge even a little bit further.”

Some independent Baptist churches in Oklahoma may be open to Converge. However, many churches have beliefs that resist partnership by reinforcing division. For example, some churches practice foot-washing and won’t partner with Christians who don’t.

“Trying to find independent churches that are of a Converge ethos or compatible with Converge DNA is a challenge,” he said.

Converge MidAmerica|Southeast|Caribbean regional president Gary Rohrmayer said his district faces a similar challenge.

“A lot of denominations were born out of divisiveness, born out of doctrinal tension,” he said.

However, Converge was born out of mission among people. Since the 1800s, God’s people in Converge believed making disciples was worth moving to new states and facing cultural discomfort.

“There’s something about building relationships around mission that’s powerful in Converge,” said Converge president Scott Ridout. “The main thing we bring is a gospel message and a pastor who has a passion for the community and seeing the world reached because of that community.”

Right now, Converge is waiting on the Lord to put a passion for these five states into some pastors. This is especially true in Nevada.

“We haven’t had anyone desire to go into Reno or Nevada,” said Converge PacWest regional president Bernard Emerson. “We usually send church planters where they feel called.”

Chris Lovelace, Converge PacWest church planting director, said northern Nevada’s lifestyle is built upon people doing their own thing.

“There’s not a lot of churches in Nevada because there’s not a lot of religious people there,” he said.

Emerson recognizes churches struggle in such a culture. But churches with a lot of connections are doing well in the PacWest. So, he said the district wants more pastors, especially in a struggling church, to find a coach and supportive relationships.

To achieve this, Lovelace has set up a district cohort model for pastors and church planters. This way, they’ll always be in a relationship with somebody, even if not a sending church located nearby.

Converge has relationships with existing Nevada churches that could help start churches, Lovelace added.

“Our heart is still for Nevada,” he said.

Converge Heartland’s churches have the same passion for their region. They want to equip their people to start churches, which, according to several district staff, is more effective than pastors moving to a region.

Heartland farmers often farm on land they own and on rented land. So, district staff adapted that cultural trait ― renting land for farming ― into a church-starting residency.

“It’s a heartland mindset, a heartland strategy,” Capaldo said. “We’d like to start growing residents in other fields. If we want to see Oklahoma reached, the most potent people to do it are going to be Oklahomans.”

Increasing biblical diversity helps start new churches
Another angle and opportunity for starting new churches involves reaching communities of different races and languages. To reach everyone in the increasingly diverse communities of the United States, Converge has built momentum by churches working together.

“Every man, woman and child matters to God, so they should matter to us,” Ridout said.

Within Converge, God has gifted certain people to reach across ethnic, cultural, age and class divides. Therefore, the movement shifted from Swedish Baptists to English-speaking Christ-followers around America and even the world.

“I’ll choose to partner with others who don’t speak like me, act like me, think like me,” is how Ridout described these leaders.

The movement also has momentum for starting churches because they have pastors reaching younger generations. Moreover, Ridout said Converge churches are theologically conservative and socially active, a combination that makes a cultural impact.

Rohrmayer said Converge has been reaching out to more and more immigrants in America and people who speak other languages. For example, this summer, a Converge pastor started a Farsi-speaking church in Washington, near near a community with about 15,000 people from Iran.

“Converge is an eclectic group of churches that appeals across generations and micro-cultures and macro-cultures,” Ridout said.

How can each district best organize and allocate resources?
Capaldo organized Converge Heartland more like a home missions agency by applying lessons he learned in overseas missions.

“We’re a service-offering mission agency, kind of a hybrid of a consultancy service and a mission agency,” he explained.

The district’s internal residency program resources churches and pastors with strategic planning, pastoral search services and training.

“We’d like to make our residencies available to churches in Oklahoma.”

Ridout said at least 27 churches across the country are hosting residencies for pastors to start churches, usually in their state or region.

Converge Heartland is similar to Converge MidAmerica, which covers many states and more than a thousand miles. So, Capaldo sees value in deploying staff around the district.

Transportation around the heartland is always a factor: Traveling from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Wichita, Kansas, for example, takes eight hours driving or flying.

“We’ve got to have more staff distributed if we want to get action in our movement,” he said.

“There has been great progress”
The distribution of staff has been effective in Converge MidAmerica to facilitate more partnerships in more places. For example, Danny Parmalee moved from Milwaukee to Nashville, Tennessee, four years ago. He is the district’s vice president of Church Planting.

“That was strategic,” Rohrmayer sad. “We needed to take it seriously if we’re going to go into these states. We now have several churches in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee that we didn’t have four years ago.”

Rohrmayer said Memphis is a natural place to be praying and looking for connections for Mississippi. The large Tennessee city is just across the border from it. In addition, several Memphis churches have campuses in Mississippi or influence in that state.

A team of people is needed to in Louisiana. Converge staff has made trips to Baton Rouge and New Orleans to deepen connections.

Rohrmayer has been optimistic since being Converge’s national church planting director about 15 years ago. Then, there were more states without a Converge presence. But God raised up pastors and churches for many of them.

“Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have churches in Tennessee, Arkansas or Kentucky. We didn’t have churches in Utah,” and only four struggling churches in Missouri and Indiana, he said. “Today, we have 20-plus in each of those states. So, there has been great progress.”

“It has not yet become an unacceptable reality”
Many Converge Heartland churches are passionate about starting new churches. Capaldo said a church of 60 people raised $2,000 through a special offering for new churches. Church planting funds in the district are up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars from zero. Yes, zero.

That generosity is reflected across all Converge districts. Converge’s Launch Offering distributed $569,000 last year to the districts for new churches. The offering’s goal is to provide better resources to new churches when they start.

Capaldo is motivated to help more and more people in the movement realize the need for supporting new churches. He knows people are generous following natural disasters, and with good reason.

“How do we tap into generosity when it comes to planting a church?” he asked. “Very few people in our district will wake up thinking we don’t have a church in Oklahoma. It has not yet become an unacceptable reality.”

A focus on prayer remains as essential as organizational resources and strategic decisions. Rohrmayer said there were many prayer journeys in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Little Rock before any churches started.

“We’re advancing on our knees,” he said. “When I drive from Chicago to Florida, I’m stopping in cities all the time. Why don’t we have a church here?” he asks.

Many Christians believe we don’t need more churches
It’s not uncommon for Christians to wonder if we need more new churches. But analysis of Americans’ lives shows fewer and fewer people know and follow Jesus. Many Converge district leaders emphasized that America is vastly underchurched despite narratives about the country or particular regions.

“Church attendance is on the decline everywhere,” Ridout said.

That’s the primary reason district staff and new pastors keep starting churches. New churches provide fresh energy and opportunities for more people to know Jesus, even if there are many good churches.

When Ridout was a pastor in Arizona, 88% of the people didn’t go to church. But there was a church in every available school and movie theater, plus those with their own building.

“We were still hoping more church plants were coming,” he said of that time. “We could fill our churches 10 times over and still not reach everyone. There’s always going to be more people who need the gospel.”

Are you interested in becoming a Converge MidAmerica|Southeast|Caribbean church planter? Start the journey today.

What should I do when no one shows up?

Leadership is lonely.

It’s easy to feel alone as a church planter, especially in the early days. It can be difficult to pour time and energy into an event or meeting only to have your expectations not met when the people who said they would be there don’t show up. This can feel defeating, but Danny Parmelee, host of the 101 Questions Church Planters Ask podcast, has some great encouragement for those of us who may be asking, “What should I do when no one shows up?”

Remember that you are never alone.

Know, embrace, and understand that the most important person on your launch team is Jesus. He is at every launch team meeting, every Sunday service, every outreach, and every volunteer meeting. If He’s the only one who shows up, that’s okay because He is the most important person. Check out Matthew 28:18-20. In verse 20, Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We can focus on who is in the room rather than who isn’t.

Focus on those who are there, ready to listen, ready to learn, and ready to serve. Don’t get distracted by who isn’t there. Be present and minister to those who are in the room at that time. Coach yourself and serve those who are there. Be faithful no matter who shows up.

So what do you actually do when there are people you expected to be there and they aren’t? Guilt is not a good long-term motivator. It’s better to follow up with a pastoral edge like a phone call or an email and let them know they were missed.

We hope these tips will be an encouragement and help you better handle the common struggles many church planters have. Want to get the answers to other tough questions? Check out 101 Questions Church Planters Ask at

Celebrating the life of Amos Eugene

Rev. Dr. Amos Eugene

Born to Lahens Eugene and Merilia Janvier in Barriere Battant, Haiti in 1946, Pastor Amos Eugene completed his elementary education at Mareus Levie, his secondary education at Lycee Philip Guerrier du Cap Haitien and finally his university studies at Seminaire Theologue Baptist de Limbe. After this, he was awarded an opportunity to study abroad at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he received his Master of Divinity.  

After completing his studies, Pastor Amos began his pastoral career as the senior pastor of Premiere Eglise Baptiste De La Grande Riviere du Nord where he served for over 15 years. As a young, prominent pastor, Pastor Amos found love in the person of Danielle Joseph, who became Mrs. Danielle Eugene on December 25, 1982. Their union produced two men of God, Rick Darrell Eugene and Vladimir Amos Eugene.

In 1989, he became Director of the Haitian Baptist Mission (Mission Baptiste Haitienne) for a short period of time before transitioning to America. Though it was never his intention, Pastor Amos and his family relocated from Haiti to South Florida on January 1, 1991. In November of that same year, Pastor Amos continued fulfilling his call to the pastoral ministry by founding the First Haitian Baptist Church of North Dade where he led faithfully and humbly for almost 30 years.

He was a trail blazer and the first Haitian pastor to plant with Converge Southeast, formerly known as the Florida Caribbean Baptist Conference. He opened the door for other ethnic leaders and churches to join Converge. He also was a board member for the district for decades, and in 2018, he helped bring Haitian Baptist Mission into Converge Southeast with three other networks totaling 187 churches with 45,000+ people in Haiti.

He was passionate about his God and his church. His last words were, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” On October 18, 2021, Pastor Amos Eugene went home to be with his Lord and Savior. He leaves behind his wife Danielle Eugene, his two sons Rick and Vladimir Eugene, his three grandchildren Jaeden, Jaycee, and Janelle, his daughter-in-law Christ-vee Eugene and his brother and sisters Rita and Edny Chavannes, Lislet and Marlene Eugene, Emani Eugene, and his nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind many other family members, friends, and his beloved church’ family at First Haitian Baptist Church of North Dade. He will be forever missed!

Celebrating the life of Herbert Skoglund

Herbert Hoover Skoglund

DECEMBER 13, 1929 – OCTOBER 27, 2021

Age 91, of Plymouth, MN, passed away on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

Herbert’s parents, Herbert Uno Skoglund and Hilma Victoria Esselstrom were both Finnish immigrants and worked at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. In early 1929 Herbert sent Hilma a note saying they should get together to talk about Finland. They were then married on March 17, 1929 and on December 13, 1929 Herbert Hoover Skoglund was born.

The Skoglund family was very active at Bethel Baptist Church in Chicago and it was there that at the age of 10 young Herb made a decision to follow Christ and four years later he was baptized. At age 16 he began to believe that God was calling him to serve.

Herb’s childhood was highlighted by summer bible camp, Chicago Cubs games at Wrigley Field or on the radio, swimming in Lake Michigan and for the Austin High School swim team and endless days spent with his dear cousin, life long friend and brother in Christ, Clifford Anderson.

After graduating from high school Herb attended Wright Junior College for one semester. He then completed his B.A. degree in archeology at Wheaton College in 1952. He attended Bethel Seminary and received a B.D. degree in 1954. He continued his studies at Northern Baptist Seminary where he received a Master of Theology degree. He also studied at Garrett Biblical Institute and the University of Chicago. At each of these places Herb distinguished himself as a fine scholar and developed his love of reading on a vast variety of subjects.

Herb met the great love of his life, Jean Westerberg, as a young child. They both attended and served at Bethel Baptist Church. They grew up as friends and spent time with each other’s families. The friendship grew into love and they married on September 15, 1956. They were married for 63 years, until Jean’s death on July 4, 2020.

While Herb was a student at Bethel Seminary he contacted the Baptist General Conference’s World Missions office and expressed an interest and willingness to go into foreign mission service. Herb’s first call after graduation was at Hillside Baptist Church, a small church just outside of Chicago. Under his leadership and guidance Hillside Baptist Church grew and flourished. In 1956 John Wilcox, the head of BGC world missions, wrote to Herb reminding him of his commitment and willingness to pursue world missions. In September of 1956, shortly after they were married, Herb and Jean met with the World Missions board.

Six months later Herb and Jean left for missionary service in Japan on the S.S.Keystone Mariner arriving in Yokohama on April 2, 1957. Herb and Jean spent 21 years as missionaries to Japan. They started with learning the language and culture and then moved on to planting churches. Herb planted multiple churches in Japan in several cities including: Shakuji, Hashimoto, Kiyose, Kamifukuoka, and Minami-Urawa. Herb was also instrumental in forming the Japan Evangelical Theological Society.

While they were missionaries in Japan, Herb and Jean became parents to 4 children. During their first term in Tokyo, John Eric was born in 1957 and Robert Sven was born in 1960. They returned home to Chicago in 1961 for their first furlough and James Karl was born in 1962. They spent their second term in Japan in Hashimoto where Ann Marie was born in 1964.

In 1978 Virgil Olson, the then director of World missions for the BGC invited Herb to become the Associate Secretary of Education and Promotion in the world missions home office. Herb and Jean were happy to return to Chicago to be near family and friends. In 1981 Herb was selected to become the new Director of World Missions for the BGC. He stayed at this position until he retired in 1994. During his tenure as director of World Missions, Herb and Jean traveled the world visiting each of the mission fields. Herb’s immense communication skills, boundless energy, and great passion to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ helped to expand the BGC world missions to 14 world fields with 132 missionaries.

When Herb retired he did not stay retired for long. A few days later he began working at the Midwest Regional Office of the BGC alongside Bernie Tanis. He continued there until 1999 when He and Jean decided to move to Minnesota to be closer to their grandchildren.

They lived in a townhouse in Plymouth, Minnesota until 2017. During these years they spent many happy days celebrating birthdays and holidays in their home, attending their grandkids concerts and sporting events, being involved with church activities and visiting with friends.

In 2001 Herb and Jean returned to Japan to fill in for their former colleagues, Ken and Geri Milhouse. They spent 5 months serving at the church in Nagoya, Japan. Later, in 2008, Herb and Jean had the opportunity to return to Japan again to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kiyose Baptist Church, a church that began in their home in 1968. On this trip Herb was presented with an award from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Evangelicalism. The award recognized Herb’s distinguished service in church planting ministry. The award also recognized his role in forming the Japan Evangelical Theological Society and his contribution to world missions as former director of BGC world missions.

Around 2014 both Herb and Jean began to struggle with their health. Jean developed arthritis and Parkinson’s disease and Herb began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2017 they both moved into Cornerstone Assisted Living in Plymouth, MN. Jean was in assisted living and Herb was in memory care. They were well cared for there. Herb lived there until his death on October 27, 2021.

Herbert was preceded in death by his wife, Jean (Westerberg) Skoglund; and his parents, Herbert and Hilma Skoglund.

He is survived by his four children, John, Robert (Betty), James, and Ann Marie (Lane) Skoglund-Anderson; Nine grandchildren, Tara (Jesse) Carroll, Daniel, Megan (Ray) Carlos, Janine, Benjamin(Nancy), Alyson, Britta (Christopher) Scanlon, Stennar (Shavonne) Skoglund-Anderson, and Karsten Skoglund-Anderson; and four Great-Grandchildren, Tyler, Isabel, Harriet, and Penelope.

Herbert Skoglund was a powerhouse of a man, full of energy and love of life. He loved chocolate, he loved Chicago, he loved Japan, he loved the Chicago Cubs and he loved books.

He loved his wife, Jean, he loved his children and their families and he was passionate about sharing the love of Christ with the whole world.

But most of all he loved that he was a child of God, a sinner saved by grace, given the gift of everlasting life with his Savior, Jesus Christ.

Memorial Service 11 AM on Friday, November 12th at MapleRidge Baptist Church 13400 Maple Knoll Way, Maple Grove, MN, with luncheon to follow.

Due to COVID-19, the family was only able to hold a private memorial service for Jean when she passed July 4, 2020.

A joint Memorial Service for Herb and Jean will be held at 11 AM on Tuesday, November 30th at Bethany Baptist Church 6700 West Gunnison Street, Harwood Heights, IL 60706.

The family welcomes all those that are able to attend the memorial services, and ask that you follow COVID-19 protocols requested by the churches.

Neptune Society 763-545-8095

Obituary obtained from


Reflections on Connect 2021

In 1852 when Gustaf Palmquist started the First Swedish Baptist Church in Rock Island, IL. In 1856, the Swedish Baptist Churches came together for their first gathering in Illinois. Did they see in their mind’s eye what impact they could have on the generations to come?

No, I don’t think so. I think these pastors and lay leaders just focused on the daily tasks of meeting with God, reading their bibles, devoting time to prayer. They focused on reaching the lost, making disciples, developing leaders, and starting new churches, all the while simply trusting God with the results.

Twenty-three years ago, if you were to ask me if we would have our gathering of the MidAmerica Churches translated in French and simulcasted to Orlando. I would have said, “No way! No How! Not going to happen!”

And yet, we as pastors and leaders in MidAmerica focused on the small things that moved us in the right direction with consistency and faithfulness, trusting God with the results. Here are a few of my personal reflections on Connect 2021 that I believe can serve us as we move forward in the future.

We are servants who show up.

Our team never takes for granted that our primary constituency is busy, overworked pastors and lay leaders in our local churches. And yet, you all consistently show up for Together Groups, Prayer Meetings, Celebration Events, and our Connect Gatherings. This year was no different in a day where the average church’s in-person gatherings are 60% down from pre-COVID numbers. We hit about 50% of attendance both in Chicago and Orlando from previous years. 255 pastors and leaders represented. In Cap-Haitien, Haiti, we had over 400 pastors and leaders show up. Some traveled nine hours to attend to avoid the gang-infested travel routes. We were humbled, and in awe, of the sacrifices these pastors and lay leaders made to show up for Connect.

We are a people who are advancing on our knees.

We are so proud to be serving a group of pastors and lay leaders committed to prayer. As in the previous Connect gatherings, you not only showed up, but you showed up to pray. It was so encouraging to see the overwhelming attendance at the PrayerFirst Gathering this year. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “And in movements of the Spirit, the first thing that happens and which eventually leads to a great revival is that one man or a group of men suddenly begin to feel this burden and they feel the burden so much that they are led to do something about it.”

Thank you for feeling that burden to pray and acting on it with us.


We are a family enjoying a great season of unity.

This year in our business meeting, we needed to make some necessary changes to our bylaws, in light of the merger and the new reality of the size of our region. Before, during, and after our business meeting, the discussion of the changes was healthy, vibrant, and unifying. Even leading to one pastor voting his conscience with a dissenting vote.

For me, that is healthy. As for the board, even though we believed these recommendations were the right thing to do at the time, we held them lightly because our members are the final say when it comes to these governance issues. We were certainly prepared for any motions to be made on the floor for other considerations or concerns. In the end, every recommendation was passed unanimously except for the one dealing with the quorum, which had one dissenting vote. Again, all board members were affirmed to serve their appointed terms.

Interestingly, we had our strongest quorum in the 23 years I have been associated with Converge MidAmerica at 48%. Nearly half of our churches showed up for Connect 2021. We thank God for this unifying spirit that He has granted us during this season.

We are a fellowship experiencing a growing level of generosity.

It was a year ago that we voted to see the merger between MidAmerica and Southeast take place. We have said it before, yet it bears repeating: this merger only happened because of the incredible generosity of the MidAmerica churches. The only reason we could do this merger is because of the financial health of the district. This year the Converge MidAmerica churches hit a massive milestone by breaking 1 million dollars in giving to our regional district. Because of your church’s faithful support of the Converge MidAmerica Partners Fund, we can start, strengthen, and serve our churches. In ten months, we saw increased participation from the Southeast Churches, which grew from 16% of the churches giving in 2020 to 39% giving to the Converge Southeast Partners Fund in 2021. We are so encouraged at the strides in giving that the churches are making in the Southeast. Remember Paul’s encouragement to the church in Corinth. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (II Corinthians 9:10-11). May God give us churches that are enriched in every way so that they can be generous on every occasion!

We are a tribe who is realizing every day that we really are better together.

Over the last ten years, together, we have mobilized 113 church planting couples. (23 in the previous year. Momentum is building). Over the last ten years, we together have welcomed 99 newly affiliated churches into our fellowship of churches. Over the last ten years together, we have seen over 75 churches navigate pastoral transitions. Over the last ten years, we have helped over 500 pastors get the personal help they needed in a crisis. We have collectively helped fund over 2000 new churches in Nepal and Northern India in the last four years. Together in the last four years, we have collectively seen 3300 children sponsored through Compassion International. Over the last ten years, we have seen 1000’s of children and youth come to Jesus through our camp and retreat ministries. We are increasingly convinced that we are better together and that God is using our joint efforts in his great redemptive plan.

So let us keep showing up, advancing on our knees, striving towards unity, growing in generosity, and realizing that we are better together. As we keep doing the small things on a daily basis, God will show up, and we will see him do things beyond all we can ask or imagine.

This is just a special note to the MidAmerica, Southeast, and Caribbean teams that pulled off a historic event with a heroic effort. The sacrifice from our administrative staff, our missionaries in the Caribbean, the army of volunteers, tech teams, and the host churches does not go unnoticed. To our workshop leaders, worship leaders, board members, and executive team, I am so proud to be associated with such a high caliber of godly and talented leaders. May we continue to feel the Lord’s hand upon us as we seek to be in the center of his great redemptive mission.

Going out into all the world!

When you think of the Bahamas, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Beautiful beaches? Crystal blue water? Relaxation?

While most view the Bahamas as a place for fun vacation getaways, did you know that Converge has been planting churches here for more than 31 years? Some of their primary established churches are Heavenly View Ministries, Best Life Faith Center, World of Life Ministry International, and many more. Most of these churches were affiliated with Converge before the 2019 hurricane, with one additional church added during the hurricane and the hope to affiliate another six congregations soon.

After the island of Grand Bahama was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2019, many houses, hotels, businesses, and churches are still in need of repair. The Covid-19 pandemic further weakened the island due to a tremendous drop in tourism, which is the primary driver of their economy. Many Converge Churches, along with non-Converge churches, helped through the very dark days of the hurricane. They provided a hurricane relief fund that supplied food, shelter, medical help, and rebuilt houses and churches. The pandemic has slowed their work because of lockdown and restricted travel. Things are slowly starting to open again and one of the churches, Word of Life Ministry International, just made enough repairs to open up live services in their building. They still have much to rebuild, but they are open for in-person services and are reaching new people each week.

On Converge’s recent trip to the Bahamas, Gary Rohrmayer, Bryan Moak, Danny Parmelee, Ernie Cabrera, and Raoul Armbrister held a training conference to help support and encourage the local pastors. This was held at Raoul’s training center at Karazim Ministries International in Freeport, Grand Bahamas. The training center was full and the pastors were eager to learn and grow. We were able to preach at five of these churches during their Sunday services and had over ten churches represented at the training.

Currently, Converge has nine affiliated churches in the Bahamas with the hope to affiliate six more. Converge leaders are now planning a vision trip with key pastors who are interested in their churches helping with the ongoing work in the Bahamas. One of the goals of this vision trip is to set up mission trips with these churches that will involve partnering with the established churches in the Bahamas. They will rebuild church buildings, hold VBS for children, offer training for pastors and their leaders, evangelize among the communities, and more. These trips will be customized to match the time, talent, and treasure of the short term missionaries with the need and opportunities available so that these trips are mutually beneficial for all involved.

Please pray for each of the churches who have been severely impacted due to the hurricane and still haven’t been able to rebuild completely. Please also pray for the partner churches who have the resources to help them rebuild and impact their communities. The possibilities of expansion in the Bahamas are good. Converge has the opportunity to affiliate a number of churches there and help them grow and plant churches on different islands in the greater Caribbean area and beyond.

Defining Moments…Examples to Follow

Twenty years ago this fall, Converge MidAmerica experienced a breakthrough moment in launching four church plants within five weeks of the attacks at the World Trade Center on 9-11. Up to that point, this had never happened in the history of Converge MidAmerica.

NorthBridge Church in Antioch, IL, launched September 16th under the leadership of Mark & Michelle Albrecht. Christ’s Church of Wrigleyville, in Chicago, IL, celebrated the restart of this historic church on September 16th under the leadership of Dave & Tiffany Gwartney. Both churches celebrated their starts just 5 days after the attacks. Dave told me that they opened the doors of this historic church blocks from Wrigley Field, and people came in just to pray throughout the week.

On October 14th, Heartland Church in Fishers, IN, was launched under the leadership of Darryn & Loree Scheske and Crosswinds Community Church by Mark and Jill Savage in Bloomington, IL.

Three of these churches are still strong, healthy, and engaged in missions and church multiplication. Crosswinds had a tremendous ten-year run but had a difficult transition after the founding pastor left, which eventually led to the church closing its doors in December 2020.

NorthBridge Church is a daughter church of Faith Baptist Church in Grayslake, IL. It grew quickly. Within six months, they commissioned Richard Wollard to start Meadowland Church in Johnsburg, IL. Mark Albrecht became a leader in our church planting movement. He was involved in coaching, training, and leading our multiplication efforts in Northern Illinois. Northbridge Church started three daughter churches: Meadowland (2002), New Hope (2009), and Connection (2016). They have been a part of starting two granddaughter churches in helping Meadowland launch Redemption Church in 2015 and New Hope launch Casa de Oracion the same year. All of this happened along with adopting Real Hope Church in 2019 and Anchor Church in 2020.

Christ’s Church of Wrigleyville (the first Swedish Baptist Church in Chicago) started strong. It transitioned from the leadership of Dave Gwartney to Josh Taylor in 2008. They instantly became a multi-site church as Josh, their daughter church’s pastor, became their pastor and joined the two churches together to form Missio Dei. Missio Dei is now a unique multi-congregational model with four locations and is working on its fifth this year. They have also adopted and funded many church planters and mission partners over the years.

Heartland Church was pioneered by the Scheske’s who moved their family to Fishers not knowing a soul before they stepped out on faith to follow God’s calling. Through the hard work of community networking and personal evangelism, they saw many people come to Christ and gathered this group together in a small bible study in February of 2001. They held their first baptism service before they held any public worship service. Together with the assistance from our regional office and a generous business owner, they launched full-service daycare before they held their first public worship service. They grew quickly through their evangelistic efforts and community involvement. Darryn Scheske also became a movement leader through coaching, training, and leading multiplication efforts in Indiana. Heartland helped start Indy Metro (2004) by sending people and finances to launch this church in downtown Indianapolis. They have adopted and funded most of our Indiana church plants. They have most recently come alongside our first Ethiopian Congregation planted by Pastor Getachew Tegegne.

For 20 years, I have watched Mark and Darryn grow solid and vibrant churches with a thankful heart. They see lives changed in their communities, churches planted in our region, and the world touched through their extensive mission efforts. Each of these churches has given millions to church planting, church strengthening, and mission work. They each, as pastors, have given their time to serve in significant roles on both our regional and national boards. Their churches have become modern-day examples of the ancient church of Antioch. Their churches not only reached their communities (Acts 11:21) but became key players in reaching the world through church planting (Acts 13:1-3).

These men and their churches serve as great examples to emulate and strive for because “The Lord’s hand was (and is) with them…” (Acts 11:21).

For God’s Glory!

Located in Sterling Heights Michigan, Hope Arabic Church was launched in November of 2014. The church began from just 27 people attending the first service to 247 people attending right before the lockdown last year. Hope Arabic Church exists to reach Arab refugees, Muslims, and those from the Middle East. God has given them a vision to eventually launch even more Arabic churches in multiple locations and cities.

Because they don’t have their own building, they have had to move from place to place and constantly shift their service times. For any church, but especially a middle eastern church, this is not healthy. Their dream is to have their own building so they can serve their people better and use the building not just for worship but also as a community center.

The church just held its 6th annual Live Free event. This year they decided to try something new and encouraged the community to come without any fear of indoor restrictions. They had big tents for adults and kids, and almost 1900 people showed up! Some Muslim families attended the event for all three nights. Many of them decided to accept Jesus Christ and some of the families also came to the regular service last Sunday. A Muslim man attending the event had many questions about Christianity and, despite his questions, he decided to follow Jesus! He came back later wanting to volunteer and give out the church’s flyer to his friends. Three TV satellites also broadcast the event worldwide, which allowed Hope Arabic Church to reach millions of Arabs and those living in the Middle East.

Hope Arabic Church is asking their brothers and sisters to pray that God would open the doors and provide them a building to serve more people. Please pray that God will provide for all their financial needs. They also ask for you to prayerfully consider partnering with them and supporting one of their outreach events or ministry by prayer, training, or support. Despite the challenges of finding a building for worship, they can already see how God is using them for His glory.

For more information on Hope Arabic Church, click here!

God is changing lives in Mexico!

On a recent trip to Mexico, Jessy Padilla and Ernie Cabrera had the opportunity to experience how God has been at work through the local church in Los Luz and the surrounding community.

Pastor Jessy Padilla of Iglesia Emanuel has had a vision for over 20 years to plant churches in Mexico. In October of 2016 he and Pastor Santiago Patlan planted Iglesia Baptista Torre Fuerte in Los Luz, Michoacan, Mexico. Pastor Santiago and his wife have been serving as missionaries in the area for over 17 years. The church is in a metal building located on 7+ acres. Several Converge churches raised money to help build this structure with the help of Torre Forte in Los Luz and its members in the surrounding towns. The church is also blessed to have a new associate pastor, Julian Aguila, who is helping them grow to the next level. Just out of school, he is young and ready to challenge and reach the youth in the community.

On this trip, Ernie and Jessy had meetings with Santiago and Julian about affiliating with Converge. They are very interested in affiliation and with The Timothy Initiative training that is currently being implemented in Mexico. We talked about what it means to be part of Converge and how we can partner with each other for the gospel. We also connected with other churches who might be interested in Converge and the TTI movements for other trips. There are currently zero churches affiliated with Converge right now in Mexico. Jessy and other Latino pastors have hoped and prayed for the opportunity to affiliate churches in Mexico but there has been no pathway for them to do so until the merger of the Southeast in November of 2020. There are currently three potential churches in the process of affiliation with six more who might be interested. We hope to affiliate at least 8-10 total churches and create critical mass so we can start Converge Mexico. We will partner with the churches interested in TTI and then begin planting micro-churches, strengthening them with the partnership and help of Converge churches and pastors. We are planning a Vision Trip in the near future to help foster the right connections with Converge Churches and also have some short-term mission trips planned in 2022. Our team is looking forward to connecting with even more additional pastors from other churches who already have some connection to Converge churches or pastors and invite some of them to join us.

Please pray for Iglesia Baptista Torre Fuerte. You can pray for more workers for the harvest and that people’s hearts in the community would soften towards the gospel. The Roman Catholic Church leaders in this community have stopped some of the local people from participating in the VBS and other outreach events put on by the church. They also need another younger pastor to help lead their youth program and to evangelize in the community by developing programs like soccer to connect with the local youth.

The possibilities of expansion in Mexico are endless since it is connected by a large landmass to the continental United States. It is one of our biggest trading allies and the number one retirement country for US expats. We have the potential to build a movement in Mexico that could be self-sustaining and fuel our mission work throughout the Caribbean.

To learn more about hispanic partnerships, you can visit or you can send an email to Jessy here.

God never stops working!

On a recent trip to Haiti, the president of Converge, Gary Rohrmayer and the vice president of church partnerships, Ernie Cabrera, had the opportunity to experience for themselves what God has been doing there.

After stopping at one of the local church partners, The Tabernacle, Gary and Ernie met with the current pastor, Dr. Jephthe Lucien, who left his role as the leader of the Jerusalem Baptist Mission to succeed the founding pastor, Pastor Ecclesia, who passed away last year. The church is doing well despite the change in leadership and the pandemic. One of their greatest needs involves the completion of the roof at The Tabernacle. A large building that looks a little like a colosseum, it has a large open area in the center where people can gather, praise, dance, and worship together in front of the podium. They need to raise $125,000 for the new roof.

The ministry at The Tabernacle is thriving! They have implemented disciple making training with our Converge Caribbean Missionary Steve Storkel and have seen over 300 new professions of faith in this church in just 2021 alone.

Gary and Ernie met with many of the Converge pastors of Haiti with over 60+ being able to come from all over the country. They met at The Tabernacle for this meeting and training. There are currently 150 churches in Haiti that have been fully affiliated with Converge with two more groups in the process of affiliating. One group has 20 churches and another has 10 churches. When Gary and Ernie were in Cap-Haitien they were able to meet with the leaders of these two networks. They are looking forward to finishing their paperwork and getting them affiliated with the Converge board.

Gary Rohrmayer said of the trip, “We have some high-caliber pastors and leaders in Haiti! I could not be more excited about the future of starting and strengthening churches in Haiti and beyond.”

Special note: Converge MidAmerica has established an emergency Relief Fund to assist Pastors, churches and our network partners to provide immediate relief to those effect by the earthquake this weekend. You can give to the Converge Caribbean Relief Fund here.

“We look for the ones that aren’t churchy”

By Ben Greene 

Shortly after walking out of the Atlanta Transitional Center, a man who finished his prison sentence called Converge pastor Dennis Spears.

“Hey Pastor D, how you doing?” the man asked Spears, who started World Shakers Church. “I’m out. I made it out. I’m going to stay the course; I’m going to church.”

Spears didn’t recognize the phone number, but he knew the man. The pastor of a new Converge church said encouraging the man’s personal transformation was a huge reward.

Every worship service at the facility required toting in musical equipment, setting up for the service and then taking it all down again.  However, God does something in the 75-minute worship services for the men serving prison time.

Dennis Spears

“We’re here to give, not to receive,” Spears said. “We’re anxious to get back out there and do that again.”

The phone call showed why the team from World Shakers who serve inmates with worship services and friendships must continue.

“His mind was renewed,” Spears added. “His mind was changed.”

Pastors’ struggles reveal World Shakers’ purpose

Spears and his wife of 21 years, Lakesha, co-pastor the church, which launched June 13.

Spears spent two years in a federal prison after a “stupid decision.” He was married and had one child when he went to prison. Incarceration stressed his marriage to the breaking point.

But God redeemed the prison time, transforming Spears like the man who called the pastor from Atlanta Transitional Center. Plus, Spears discovered a ministry focus that guides their church.

Related: Fistfight helps start Converge church; unity sustains it

“Our ministry has always been strongly passionate about the cast-outs, the rejects, expressly those who’ve been incarcerated,” he said. “Our ministry is called to the people who feel like they can never be completed.”

That includes men, women, boys and girls who don’t have a father figure. Same for those who made a wrong decision once or have several kids and don’t have a husband.

“We want to make sure those people know there can be a success story coming,” he said. “That’s why our mission is to love, live and lead like Jesus so he can reach them through us.”

Spears loves when people come to worship, joking that the building will catch on fire because they are so far from God.

“We look for the ones that aren’t churchy,” he said. “When God takes their situation and turns it around, they’ll have that same type of commitment and devotion to him” that Spears developed.

“We’re the Bonnie and Clyde of the gospel”

Since the pandemic started, World Shakers has rented a public park pavilion for worship services. There’s plenty of parking, shelter and it’s easy to invite parkgoers into church life.

People worshiping in a pavilion

He and Lakesha want every believer to understand God has the same mission for all people. Every person who knows Christ as Lord is a partner with equal responsibility to go and make disciples who make disciples.

“We’re carrying out the work that was passed down from Jesus and the 12 [disciples],” he said. “That alone means you can be part of this movement.”

Before Dennis and Lakesha started the church, people told them how their character and faith changed families and workplaces. As they prayed about the church’s name, God said to Lakesha he would use them to shake the world up.

“We’re the Bonnie and Clyde of the gospel,” Dennis joked. “It’s just who we are. The Lord has showed us that when he calls us to a place, we go there with the expectation that the orientation of how things were will not be the same when he gets finished with us.”

World Shakers has an early commitment to youth

Darius Lewis, who serves on the youth leadership team, said World Shakers prioritizes openness to God and people. That’s critical because Gen Z youth need people they can go to with any questions.

“We’ve got to have an open-door policy for the people of the church, so they get trustworthy mentors who give biblical advice about things,” he said.

Family gathering

People responded to Lewis’ hard questions in his youth by saying, “That’s what the Bible said, and that’s it.” That won’t work for Gen Z, he said.

“They are a very intellectual group, and they’re not just going to do something because you said so or because the Bible says so,” he added.

“The cultures are starting to blend”

Lewis said people from World Shakers, a primarily Black church, often connect with another church that is mostly white. The two churches have gathered online to talk about differences and multicultural Christianity.

“The cultures are starting to blend,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re being the body of Christ, which is all God’s people.”

Spears explained the value of being open to a multicultural congregation by pointing to Gwinnett County and Lawrenceville’s demographics. There are people from Haiti, the countries on the African content and people from India, he said.

Moreover, he said some people are NFL players living in the town 45 minutes northeast of Atlanta. Others have never moved out of the trailer park where they grew up.

“What are church clothes anyway?”

The day before the church’s first service, the team handed out 120 bag lunches at the park. When inviting people to the next day’s service, they welcomed people to show up for church just like they show up to the park.

“No church clothes needed,” Spears said they told people. “What are church clothes anyway?”

A major emphasis of Converge for the next several years is seeing churches open their front door. This means offering a culture and activities that make it as easy as possible for people who don’t follow Jesus to love him and join his community.

Spears is excited, saying things are the best they’ve ever been for serving the Lord. He planted another church before. Before that, he served 12 years as a volunteer, then a paid worship leader and finally, an assistant pastor in Wisconsin.

A missed flight offers the Spears a massive opportunity

A cousin from Wisconsin traveled to Atlanta but missed his flight out. Then, the cousin bumped into the Spears’ family around town. The cousin ended up staying with the Spears until he could make another flight.

That’s when the Spears learned their cousin was connected to Epikos Church, a Converge Great Lakes church in Wisconsin. The cousin invited them to the Unleash conference at a time when ministry had been draining. There, the Spears saw a vision of what ministry could look like.

“We saw a multicultural fellowship of people that didn’t ask me what denomination I was part of, who I know, where I came from,” he said. “We just worshiped together, prayed together, praised together. It just felt like kingdom, and that just really resonated.”

Next, Ernie Cabrera, then executive minister for Converge Southeast, reached out to the Spears and started coaching them. Cabrera has planted three churches and now serves as vice president of church partnerships for Converge MidAmerica.

The Spears then participated in Converge’s Church Planting Assessment Center. They were approved, so Converge began sharing resources and coaching them on how to start a church.

“Converge gives you the framework,” he said. “Converge did a great job of opening areas of my mind and giving me new and better ways of traveling down this road.”

Before Converge, Spears and his wife once faced an excruciating decision: Would they save their home or the church building? Now, Spears has wisdom for how the church can be a self-sustaining entity.

Starting the church at a park pavilion is way different than starting a church in a hotel ballroom or ministering at an existing church.

For starters, right around the worship service, people rode bikes, kids played in wagons and people exercised on a walking trail. Even so, these same people had a serendipitous moment to draw near to the Lord in worship.

The new church has invested in sound equipment for this very reason. Just like they did for the ministry they hope to restart at Atlanta Transitional Center. World Shakers believes God does something when people can join in worshiping him.

Are you interested in being part of what God is doing through church planting? Learn more about how you can be part of the Converge MidAmerica church planting movement here!

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

This Changes Everything: How Love Overcame Fear in Creating a Culture of Generosity

By Darryn Sheske

I’m sure the biggest leadership mistake I made in the first three years of planting Heartland Church was to avoid teaching about money. I’d heard one of the top complaints of non-church goers: “they’re always after my money.” I vividly remember my response strategy at the time: “I’ll only bring up money when it’s absolutely necessary.” As a result, I avoided any teaching about what the Bible has to say about money, and I gave the standard offering apology every week.

The few times I taught on money occurred when giving was low or there was something the church needed to accomplish. The results were predictable. The people intrinsically sensed the message was about me, not them. I was actually reinforcing the stereotype.

God was merciful during those early years while I was blind to this leadership blunder I was making. As the church faithfully tithed on every dollar we received, God kept his word and we never missed a bill. But the Holy Spirit revealed to me that for three years, out of fear, I had not helped the people I pastor in the area of their greatest need.

We know the stats on failed marriages. Most of the conflict in the home is about money. The majority of people who come into our churches are one paycheck away from being broke. Bankruptcies are at an all time high. People are struggling to survive under a mountain of consumer debt. No one has taught them how to take control of the money God has given them to manage. They think they will never be able to accomplish their plans, hopes and dreams. They are actually longing for clear help and guidance from someone they trust about finding the path toward debt freedom.

It was love that led me to get up and repent to my church one Sunday morning. With tears in my eyes I told them how sorry I was for not teaching them God’s Word, in the area of their greatest need because I had been afraid.

I began a new series on the total stewardship of life. We set up financial learning experiences. We’ve taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. A great new resource that is really helping us is Now I teach fearlessly about how putting God first and generosity is the key to blessing. When you love people like this, people know this is something you want FOR them not FROM them. There are no more offering apologies. You don’t have to apologize when you’re helping people so much.

Today we are experiencing a culture of generosity and financial blessing and freedom.

Love casts out fear. Love people well by helping them take control of the money God has given them to manage.

Darryn Scheske is the founding pastor of Heartland Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He also serves at the Director for Indiana Church Planting for Converge MidAmerica. Check out more from Darryn at his blog,

Join us for the NextSteps Workshop!

One of the differences between a follower and a leader is that a leader knows what the next steps are for their organization. Even if they don’t know what the actual next steps are, they relentlessly search for ideas, advice and counsel to get their organization to the next level.

The NextSteps Workshop is designed for any church leader who embraces the missional lifestyle and the ideas and tools that build healthy church systems, allowing the church to actualize its values and achieve its mission.

Here are the systems we will cover:

  • Missional Leadership
  • Missional Vision, Values and Systems
  • Evangelism
  • Leadership Development
  • Spiritual Formation
  • High Impact Worship Services
  • Holistic Small Groups
  • Kingdom Advancement
  • Finishing Well


Missionally driven leaders get the job done! They always anticipate the next step the church needs to make to achieve God’s missional purpose through the local church. Knowing the next steps for your church is what makes the difference between a leader and a follower. Followers are looking for direction, but leaders are thinking about the next decision, the next hurdle and the next level for the organization.

We hope you will join us for the NextSteps Workshop on August 18-19, 2021.

You can register today!

God’s Love at Mercy Road

This month we are focusing on the ministry of Mercy Road Church in Redford, MI. Established on 10/10/10 at 10 AM, Mercy Road had a unique beginning as a joint effort of Presbyterians and Baptists. Mercy Road exists to lead people back into the arms of God and to serve the poor and oppressed in Jesus’ name. At the time, the pastor, Mike Gorr, was on staff as the youth pastor for Grace Chapel, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Farmington Hills, MI. Their senior pastor had a vision for starting new churches throughout the Detroit Metro area and tagged him as their first planter. Because his theology is more baptistic, they reached out to Converge in 2007 as a potential partner. Converge provided the coaching and structure and a pay it forward grant of $25,000 for their church plant. Converge later loaned them money to purchase their own building in 2018 and coached them through their capital campaign.

Throughout the capital campaign process, Mercy Road and its leadership felt supported through the wonderful coach Converge provided in Bryan Moak. Bryan was not only knowledgeable but a joy to be around. Mercy Road found a building that was perfect for their church plant. Even though they had some money in savings, they would have had to drain their account for a down payment to qualify for a bank loan. Converge MidAmerica stepped in and loaned them $250,000 to purchase their building which included available funds to remodel the sanctuary. The goal was to raise enough money to pay off the building, tithe a gift towards church planting and have extra money to launch ministry forward for the next decade at Mercy Road. They are more than half way to their goals and while they may not have extra funds for the next decade of ministry, they believe that God will provide all they need to do His will in the years to come.

Mercy Road embarked on a capital campaign so that they could pay off the loan within 5 years. There was always a possibility that their people would not be willing to pledge and get on board, but Mike had seen their church body rise to the occasion in the past when generosity was called for so he was quite hopeful. He also believed that God had provided this building for them through many specific answers to prayer, so he had very little reason to doubt God’s provision through the capital campaign.

Mike has been encouraged by two things about Converge. For starters, they have a lot of experience with coaching campaigns in the past. Secondly, Mike has recently seen Converge adjust and adopt their campaign strategy according to the needs and size of the local church being coached. A partnership in planning between the campaign team and coach is a recipe for success.

Mercy Road gets its name from the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15. Mike shares, “I’ve always said if I had just one chance to paint a picture of what God is like, I’d tell the parable of the prodigal son so that they might know that God is the kind of God who runs down the road to welcome home his lost sons and daughters no matter what they’ve done. We call that road the Father runs down ‘Mercy Road.’ It’s our prayer that God uses us more and more so that others might know His embrace on that road.”

Just before the pandemic, Mercy Road started Alpha for the first time at their church. Alpha is a ministry designed to reach those who wouldn’t typically come to church on a Sunday morning by providing dinner together, clear Bible teaching, and a safe place to explore life’s questions from a Jesus-centered perspective.They have seen God open eyes, draw people closer to Him and even grow some of their own team with significant ministry responsibilities.

Mike and Mercy Road Church ask that you pray that God would show them more and more ways to serve the poor and needy in their community. They have been able to lead spiritual enrichment experiences (youth group) for a boys’ home in their community, and they are a go-to resource for the senior department in their community for the elderly who need a helping hand. Please pray that the Holy Spirit opens more and more doors to share the love and truth of Jesus with Redford and beyond.

Praise God that Mercy Road is an example of the wider body of Christ working together for the sake of the gospel!

Is your church ready to start the Capital Campaign journey with Converge? For more information, please contact Bryan Moak, Vice President of Church Strengthening for Converge MidAmerica or visit our Capital Campaigns website.

Next Steps Orlando

This past week 27 pastors, church planters, and church leaders came together to learn about Next Steps for their church. Bryan Moak kicked things off with a high-energy training on organizational systems and structures. Chris Highfill had the group roaring with laughter even while covering the serious subjects of outreach and evangelism. By the end of his talk, he had us in tears as he shared some personal stories of reproducing disciples. 

I then had the opportunity to share with everyone the areas I’m passionate about: leadership development, small groups, and missions. Gary closed out the whole training with some Yoda-like wisdom on staff transitions and finishing well. 

Besides all of the training and content, one of the greatest takeaways from these two days was the relationships and side conversations that happened over breaks, lunches, and dinners. I have no doubt that many of the truths we all learned will be implemented and have a multiplicative impact in our churches. 

Feel like you missed out? You did! BUT, you still have an opportunity to experience this same event in Chicago on August 18-19, 2021. 

Click here to register:

Tending the Orchard: A Capital Campaign Story

This month’s highlight is on The Orchard Church in McHenry, Illinois. Established in 1994, The Orchard’s vision has remained the same throughout the years it has existed: Making Fully Functional Followers of Jesus; Rooted in Hope and Branching Out to the World.

One of the most recent goals for The Orchard Church has been the Tending the Orchard Campaign. As Scott Swanson transitioned from Pastor of Family Ministries to Senior Pastor in April 2018, the church had nearly $720,000 in mortgage debt. After prayerful consideration and a series of focus group meetings to gauge the pulse of the congregation, they kicked off the campaign in March 2019. At that time the church had $717,000 in mortgage debt, scheduled to be paid off in the summer of 2041. They have seen God’s generosity in amazing ways during this time as people have faithfully given above and beyond their normal giving. The church has also been able to redirect money in their regular budget toward the mortgage as well. At the last Tending The Orchard update in late May, Pastor Swanson was able to share the current balance with the congregation…$99,820, which means over $600,000 was paid off in just 27 months!

There is a very real possibility they will finish the campaign before the March 2022 end date! During this time, the church has not stopped engaging in ministry opportunities, but has actually INCREASED their mission support…adding new missionary partners, Lee and Regina Bloch in Brazil, as well as increasing support to Real Love Ministries International, a ministry they partner with in Haiti. The Orchard has also begun the interviewing process to bring a second pastor onto the staff.

Please pray for wisdom as The Orchard seeks to fill this associate pastor position. They also ask for wisdom and direction from the Lord once the Tending The Orchard campaign is complete. How does God want them to use the financial resources available now that they will have no mortgage payments? Should they do some additional buildout on their current building? Should they continue to increase their missions partnerships — locally and afar? Should it be used as seed money for a future church plant? There are many options and choices to make, but the leadership and members of The Orchard desire above all else for God to use it for His Purpose and His Glory!

You say you want a reformation…

I am seven years into my first tenure as a senior pastor. The congregation I am blessed to serve in that capacity consists of roughly 300 souls near the urban center of Grand Rapids, MI at a location that has been occupied by their forebearers since 1892. There was a time when I was in seminary and dreaming of planting a new church (you know, one that would avoid all of the mistakes of every other church and implement all of the pristine principles of belief and practice I was being taught) when I would have laughed at the idea that this would be the kind of church I would find myself serving. Yet, as anyone who has served as a pastor will tell you, the call and gift of God to minister among the people of Jesus is irresistible. The delightful gifts from God that are the members of Berean Baptist Church have truly become my people over these past 7 years. We have loved and laughed and lost together over these past seven years.

So it was no surprise when our church first used the NCD survey that “loving relationships” showed up as one of our strengths and that it also ranked high four years later when we took the survey again. What both of those surveys revealed, however, was that our strength can also be a weakness. As a historic congregation with multiple families tied together going back generations, it can be hard for newcomers to really integrate and become part of the community, unless they are a hardy sort. We were able to identify that we struggled with having a truly outward focus versus an inward focus as a congregation.

When Bryan Moak shared the Church Unique tool following our second NCD experience it seemed like an ideal vehicle to help us have some of the conversations around that dynamic. Over the past year, the pandemic and lockdown notwithstanding, we were blessed by his leadership to take us through that process. It has raised plenty of tense questions as we have had to take a hard look at where this church is and honestly evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. It is easily the most difficult and exciting work I have been a part of in the past seven years.

The exciting part is to be able to dream and envision, not in the idealized abstract I entertained in seminary, but in the concrete reality of this congregation what could happen if we invested ourselves in the process of growth and change that NCD and Church Unique facilitate. The difficulty is that especially in a year when we have been forced into so many changes already, change management is made even more complicated. There is a delicate balance to be maintained in bringing everyone along while not shying away from urging that necessary changes to see the best that God has for us. It is messy and scary but I really believe that if we are willing to lean into how Jesus would renew us as a faith community, the question will not be what did we lose, but rather what did we gain?

Marcus Little
Berean Baptist Church
Grand Rapids, MI

Why is church planting such a big deal?

Here are four simple reasons you can share with your church that will touch their hearts and give them a fresh perspective on the impact of church planting.

1. It is the work of Jesus.

Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it!” (Matthew 16:18) In God’s genius, he has chosen the church to be the primary vehicle for reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus. This is a mystery that baffles the whole spiritual world.

Paul writes, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:8-11)

Through the mystery of the church, the whole spiritual world (angels and demons) sees the brilliance of God’s redemptive plan. The church is a group of people who have been touched by the unsearchable riches of Christ. They have been called into a community of faith regardless of the racial makeup, social background, or sin-scarred lifestyle. They are a group of people who have locked arms together to carry the mysterious message of forgiveness by grace alone through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Church planting is the work of Jesus that glorifies God, extends God’s kingdom, and accomplishes God’s mission.

2. Opportunities are Everywhere!

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful…” (Matthew 9:37) On another occasion, he told his disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) I believe that God is in the saving business. 

Many of us know John 3:16, but what about John 3:17? Jesus said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) God’s desire for the men, women, and children of all races, backgrounds, and social standing is that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. His desire is not measured by a simple wish but by the sacrificial commitment of sending his Son, Jesus, into the world. God’s saving desire is also revealed in the Holy Spirit’s work of convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-9).

It is easy to be skeptical these days. Statistically, the church here in North America is declining at an uncomfortable rate. And yet, Jesus, dealt with his own skeptical and even cynical disciples who were culturally trained to despise their neighbors, the Samaritans.

He told them to “open their eyes!” for he knew the Father’s love for them. We need to open our eyes today! Because you never know when God will do something spectacular like using a wayward woman to reach a whole city of despised people who they thought were hopeless.  Why is church planting a big deal? God is still doing big things beyond our limited faith.

3. It is the most effective way to fulfill the great commission!

Jesus commissions his true disciples to be focused on the task of making new disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). Yet recent surveys reveal only 8% of regular church attendees believe that sharing their faith is “very important.” This means that 92% believe it is not relevant. This is why only 3 out of 4 Christians (75%) seldom have a “spiritual conversation” with anyone. [1]

There is a natural entropy towards outreach that happens when a new church gets older. Surveys reveal churches older than 10 years take 89 attendees to reach one person for Christ. Even in relatively young churches who are 3 to 10 years old, it takes 7 attendees to reach one person for Christ. New churches from 0 to 3 years old only take 3 attendees to reach one person for Christ.

Even though evangelism is at an all-time low in churches, church planting is still the most effective means of seeing the gospel advance around the world.  

Why are new churches more effective at evangelism than older churches? It’s in one word: survival. If a new church is not focused on reaching new people with the gospel, that church will not be around very long. Once, in a group of pastors, I asked them how many would lose their jobs if they did not reach one person with the gospel this year. None of them said yes. They knew they would not lose their jobs as long as they were caring for their members.  In a church plant, evangelism = survival.                   

4. Someone started your church!

Yes, if you are meeting and gathering with other believers today, this means that God planted a vision for a new church in your community in the heart of a leader who saw the need, embraced the opportunity, and made the sacrifices to see your church started. This was 160, 130, 100, 50, or 20 years ago for some of our churches. Do you know the name of the church planter who started your church?  It is incredible how often we forget to remember the pioneers who made the very existence of our churches possible.

On this church planting weekend, I hope you will take the time to remember the pioneers who started your church because today you are enjoying the labors and sacrifices of others. Scripture teaches us: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

Join us for our Nationwide Celebration of Church Planting this weekend.


[1] Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, Barna Group, 2018

The History of Converge & St. Croix

On December 3, 2020, Pastor Will Woods celebrated his 51st year as pastor at Altona Baptist Church on St. Croix. Last week, our Converge MidAmerica team caught up with Pastor Woods as he reminisced on the history of Converge churches on the island. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Q: Pastor Woods, how long have you been involved with Converge MidAmerica?

A: Well now, that goes back to 1973/74 when I first met Clif. I was living on St. Croix and was working as the pastor at Altona Baptist Church when Pastor Clifford Bubar arrived. He was a missionary from Maine who was sent out by the Baptist General Conference* (BGC) to plant churches on the island.

He and I got to know each other over the years, and he encouraged me to consider becoming part of BGC as my church was growing. By 1975, Altona Baptist Church had grown to the point that we needed to consider expanding but, at the time, we didn’t have the financial means to fund an expansion ourselves. We joined the BGC in 1976, along with the other Baptist churches on the island and, through BGC, we received a loan that enabled us to buy a new property and build a new church.

Over the years, through the presence of BGC, we were able to set up four Baptist churches on the island – one for each side of the island – north, south, east, and west.

*The Baptist General Conference later changed names to Converge.

Q: Aside from financial support during your church’s expansion, what other support and resources did you receive from Converge?

A: The financial support was a big deal because it enabled us to reach more people. Our church grew because of the new facilities. Over the years, Converge has also supported us by sending speakers with training and teaching for church strengthening. Local pastors in the Converge networks have also had increased collaboration to coordinate our ministries and evangelism on the island. And one other highlight has been when other Converge churches have sent mission teams to St. Croix. We’ve had teams from churches as far away as Michigan and California. Whether they were helping with Vacation Bible School or working on repairs, these trips have been a great support to our church and a great way to build fellowship.

Q: What words of encouragement would you share with new church planters?

A: I have two things I would say to new church planters. The first is be sure of your calling (*Pastor Woods laughs*) and the second is this – be faithful to God.

Q: How has COVID affected the churches on St. Croix?

A: Like churches across the globe, distancing and masking has been a challenge for our churches. Currently, we still have around 30-35% of our congregation not able to attend in-person. But we have maintained our fellowship, and we are especially grateful for our connection with the Converge MidAmerica team as we think about coming out of COVID even stronger than before.

Q: Give us a window into what you see down the road for the churches on St. Croix.

A: I think that with the support of Converge MidAmerica we are looking forward to strengthening our current churches. The expertise and training from Converge is going to build up our members and we are looking for opportunities to expand to plant more churches on nearby Caribbean islands.

Q: Any closing words to our Converge family?

A: Please continue to pray for us and all the pastors on St. Croix as we work together with MidAmerica…and make a trip to the Virgin Islands to hear from us and share and to see what we are doing!

Chapelstreet Church: Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry

This week, we’re excited to highlight one of our partner churches in Geneva, IL: Chapelstreet Church.

Chapelstreet Church has been a Converge MidAmerica member for many years. In 2000, they opened a small food pantry called Shepherd’s Heart to help address food insecurity in the community. What they didn’t know is how God planned to grow their humble, two-shelf closet into a sprawling community care center.

When they started offering free food to their Geneva neighbors, they gave it with no stipulations: you didn’t have to be a member of the church, or even a believer in Christ, to receive help from the pantry. Their only expectation was that the Lord would give them opportunities to share Jesus with those they served. The first year, Shepherd’s Heart saw on average 70 people per month, praying over them and sending them out with nonperishable items, hygiene products, and an invitation to return each week.

But, they knew there was more to hunger than just a lack of food.

“We didn’t want to be just a band-aid.” Erin Wise, Director of Shepherd’s Heart, explained that it didn’t take long to realize the need was far greater in Geneva than just hunger. They set to work creating teams of volunteers who could walk alongside these citizens, equipping them with skills and resources to get back on their feet.

Among these are a Budgeting Team, Compassion in Action Team, Job Coaching Team, Legal Clinic, and Master’s Hands Ministry. Anyone who sets foot in the door at Shepherd’s Heart has access to these resources.

Today, 21 years later, Wise reports that the pantry serves over 1,400 people per month. “The numbers have really gone up and so has God’s provision,” says Wise.

Shepherd’s Heart now operates out of space about 20 times the size of that little closet, with more volunteers, and more opportunities to share the love of Jesus each week.

If you would like to partner with Shepherd’s Heart, please visit their website where you can find information about their monthly donation program and how to volunteer.

Casa de Oracion: Celebrating Our New Space!

We are extremely thankful for the purchase of a building for our church. God has provided in a wonderful way!

It’s been six years since we started Casa de Oracion. We had a rough start with the loss of a young member of our team. We used three buildings during these six years— our beginning at New Hope Christian Community, three years at The Stadium, a building of The Chapel Grayslake, and the last two years at Westlake Christian Academy—part of which we ended up recording a live feed from New Hope because of the pandemic.

We give thanks to God for the faithfulness of our members and the generosity of the churches around us. Several churches offered the use of their building, sent financial support during the pandemic, prayed for us, and encouraged us to keep moving forward. We are thankful to God because in two months we were able to raise more than $100,000 for the down payment of the building, mostly from our own members, but also in part from generous offerings from other churches and friends.

After a month of hard work, last week we were able to celebrate the inauguration of the building. Several pastors from Converge MidAmerica were present sharing the word and praying for us. Pastor Danny Parmelee, Vice President of Church Planting, was also among us blessing our congregation.

Thank you Converge for your great support! God has used this network of churches greatly to bless us and push us forward. Glory be to Him forever!


Estamos muy agradecidos por la adquisición de un edificio para nuestra iglesia. ¡Dios ha provisto de una manera maravillosa!

Han sido 6 años desde el inicio de nuestra iglesia, Casa de Oracion. Tuvimos un inicio difícil con la pérdida de un joven de nuestro equipo. Llegamos a usar 3 edificios distintos durante estos seis años, nuestro inicio en New Hope Christian Community, tres años en The Stadium edificio de The Chapel Grayslake, y los últimos dos años en Westlake Christian Academy, parte del cual por la pandemia estuvimos grabando videos en el edificio de New Hope.

Damos tantas gracias a Dios por la fidelidad de nuestros miembros y por la generosidad de las iglesias que nos rodean. Varias iglesias ofreciendo el uso de su edificio, mandando ofrendas a nuestra congregación durante la pandemia, orando por nosotros y animándonos a seguir adelante. Damos gracias a Dios porque en dos meses pudimos reunir más de $100,000 para el enganche de la compra del edificio, en gran parte ofrendas de nuestra propia congregación, pero también ofrendas de otras iglesias y amigos.

Después de un mes de mucho trabajo, el fin semana pasado pudimos celebrar la inauguración del edificio. Varios pastores de Converge estuvieron presentes compartiendo la palabra y orando por nosotros. El pastor Danny Parmelee, Vicepresidente de plantación de iglesias de Converge, también estuvo entre nosotros bendiciendo a nuestra congregación.

¡Gracias Converge por su gran apoyo! Dios ha usado en gran manera a esta red de iglesias para bendecirnos e impulsarnos a seguir adelante. ¡La gloria a Él por siempre!

Cristina Di Stefano

Casa de Oracion

Adapting Our Church in the Pandemic

Grace Bible Church has been a part of Converge long before I became the pastor as they were founded and led by the late Pastor Rod Walker. I became pastor in March 2020 right at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. Thankfully, Converge MidAmerica has been there for me through prayer, encouragement, extremely helpful seminars, and personal visits by Bryan Moak and Gary Rohrmayer.

We are serving our local communities through praying for our community. We provide prayer request forms for them to submit. We do prayer walks through the community to engage them through prayer. We have partnered with our local Urban League to provide food for families who are hurting because of job loss. We also have a civil servants’ day where we honor and encourage our first responders and other civil servants.

The pandemic hit our communities very hard, and we had to shut our live services down and go to virtual services in March 2020. We provide a livestream via Facebook for our Sunday morning service using a “skeleton” crew. We also transitioned to virtual Zoom meetings for our Bible study and Children’s Ministry.

We have been doing live services this year with a limited capacity, socially distanced seats, masks, and temperature checks. In order to keep many of our older members engaged, we started a front porch prayer ministry where myself and an associate pastor go to members’ homes and pray with them and encourage them on their front porches.

Please pray with us that God would keep us focused on the mission of “loving God, loving people, and making disciples.”

Pray that God will bless the partnerships we have with our community to expand ministry beyond the walls of the building.

Pray that God would continue to give us innovative ideas and methods to expand our reach to be the salt and light throughout St. Louis, MO.

Ulysses Ross III
Grace Bible Church
Florissant, MO (northern suburb of St. Louis, MO)

Defining Our Next Steps

When our church celebrated our one-year anniversary, I realized that we were actually going to make it as a church.  We had all the things going that a healthy church seems to have from outside appearances.  We had weekend worship services, children’s ministry, outreach events, small groups, and a few other teams in place that were needed to be a church. However, we knew there was something missing.  We were great at gathering people, but honestly, we stunk at defining clear next steps for growing in Christ. 

Next Steps to leading a missional church was an event that we attended when Grace River was 18 months old, and this event changed everything for us. We learned about how to create and execute 8 healthy systems to make our church thrive.  It was these systems and the Natural Church Development Survey (NCD) that enabled us to take this next step as a church.  

We didn’t see a harvest of people meeting, knowing, and following Jesus until we started really focusing on the systems that would make our church healthy.  What I didn’t know back then is God wanted to grow our church way more than we did.  He was just waiting on us to have the systems in place to help make disciples.  If you are looking to remove some barriers and make the practical changes necessary to impact your community for Christ, Next Steps is for you!

Chris Highfill
Planter and Lead Pastor
Grace River Church, St Peters, MO

In the last 2 months, Grace River Church has had 6 baptisms and 7 people have accepted Christ.

5 False Assumptions Stopping You From Planting a Church

I’m so excited that our Converge churches all around the United States are taking a weekend this summer to highlight church planting. If you haven’t heard about Church Planting weekend, you can learn more here. If you have any questions or want help highlighting church planting,  please email or call me, and I’d love to help your church.

With that said, I want to dispel five false assumptions that I often hear when I invite churches to consider church planting as part of their church’s mission and vision.

False Assumption #1: We won’t have enough money to get involved in church planting.

Church planters raise their own financial support just like most missionaries do. There are some churches that are able to financially support church planters and others that can’t support with a lot of money. Even churches with very small budgets and little money to give can be effective at supporting and sending out church planters. Don’t let your budget size or budget margin prevent you from considering getting involved with church planting.

False Assumption #2: We don’t have enough expertise to get involved in church planting. 

You don’t need to know a thing about church planting to send out a church planter. That is what our district is here for. We exist so that we can come alongside you and help you through the process. Your heart and desire to multiply is what is important, not your knowledge of church planting. 

False Assumption #3: If we plant a church, all of our good leaders will leave and we will implode.

It is true that you may have some leaders leave. This is always a difficult thing, and I don’t want to minimize the fact that sometimes you have to sacrifice hanging onto leaders when you plant a church. But the amazing thing is that God always seems to replenish leaders and fill the gaps of responsibilities. Many times, it takes leaders leaving for a new group of leaders to be raised up. 

False Assumption #4: If we plant a church, our numbers will dwindle.

Similar to the above, the fear of losing leaders or people from the pews can be fear-inducing. However, we see in scripture a sending mentality, but there can be those weeks where you feel the loss of those sent off. It always seems to happen that God blesses the sacrifice and generosity of giving people away. Churches that are willing to operate in this way often see an overall growth in their church when they are involved in church planting. I believe this happens because you demonstrate to your people the concept of mission, sacrifice, and generosity. This ultimately is the gospel in action, and it stirs the whole church to be on mission.

False Assumption #5: We don’t have anyone in our church who is ready to be a planter

How do you know? 🙂

We Are Sold Out for Church Planting

The number one reason we should be sold out to church planting is the Glory of God.


Yes, church planting is the central vehicle for achieving God’s mission.

Yes, church planting is a critical strategy in fulfilling Jesus’ great commission.

Yes, church planting is critical to establishing ongoing mission posts throughout the world.

Yes, church planting is a natural by-product of a healthy, multiplying church.


Every one of these reasons motivates me in some way or another. Still, the number one reason church planting inflames my heart is that the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ has captured my heart.


God revealed his truth about his Son deep within my soul over 40 years ago and continues to reveal himself to me every day. I am passionate about church planting because I am passionate about God. My zeal for God drives me to be a part of what he is doing in this world. If God is on a mission, I want to be on a mission.


If the foundational motivation for church planting is the glory of God. Then what is the glory of God? One author describes the glory of God as the afterglow of God’s holiness. Because man cannot stand in the presence of a holy God, God gives a glimpse of himself through his glory. Through his supreme plan, he chose to use the church as his chief instrument. His glory is manifested throughout the world today.


Three times in Ephesians 1:3-14, we see how the church is “the praise of his glory.” 


  • The spiritual blessings we experience in Christ exalt the glories of God’s grace (v. 6), 
  • The supreme hope we have in Christ brings unceasing praise to the glory of God (v. 12). 
  • The divine security we possess in Christ creates “…praise of his glory” (v. 14). 


Churches in the small villages of Haiti, along with churches in the rural areas of northern Michigan, reflect the glory of God. Churches in our major urban centers, as well as churches in the sprawling suburbs, all have one thing in common…they are bringing praise to the glory of our God. 


Therefore, planting new healthy churches is a means of seeing God’s glory spread throughout the earth and proclaimed in the heavenlies (Ephesians 3:10).


In his book “Let the Nations be Glad!” John Piper reflects on the significance of God’s glory with all missionary endeavors. 


“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” He continues, “Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because, in missions, we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory.” 


Every new church plant becomes a lighthouse of God’s glory. The afterglow of God’s holiness is reflected, manifested, and ultimately enjoyed! 


Let our passion for church planting be driven by a passion for God! May our zeal for church planting be consumed by a zeal for the glory of God! 


The glory of God is not only the motivation but the goal of God’s sovereign work among men. There is no more majestic theme, no more noble pursuit than the glory of God.


We are sold out to church planting at Converge because we are sold out to God and his glory! 


“To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).


Join churches around the country as we celebrate church planting throughout Converge on June 5-6.  

It’s Church Health Month

For several years now, we have been declaring May is Church Health Month! In Converge, we are sold out to church planting as well as very serious about church strengthening.

We are convinced that scripture has a clear mandate on church planting as well as church strengthening. 

We believe that this is a both/and proposition and not an either/or competition.

Here is our biblical case for church strengthening.

In the book of Acts, we see the Apostles starting churches on their missionary journeys. Then we see them returning to those churches “strengthening the disciples” (Acts 14:22), “strengthening the churches” (Acts 15:41), and “strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:22). The care of these infant churches was heavily on Paul’s mind as we see his thoughtful consideration for each church in the letters he wrote.

In Paul’s letter to Titus, we see a more detailed charge in how Titus was to strengthen the churches across the island of Crete. He writes, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished…” (Titus 1:5). Some commentators say that Titus could have been working with up to 100 churches on that island.

The phrase ‘straighten out’ (NIV) or ‘set in order’ (NASB) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It was used by first-century medical writers for setting broken limbs or straightening crooked ones. The root of this word is ortho, from which we get our terms: orthodontics and orthopedics. When you go to the orthodontist, he straightens your teeth to strengthen them. When you go to the orthopedist, he straightens your bones to strengthen them. Interestingly, both professions use braces to straighten our teeth and to mend bones.

Titus’ commission was to brace up the church by appointing godly leadership, teaching sound doctrine, and encouraging missional engagement.

Let’s take a look at how Titus was to strengthen the churches under his care?

  • He appoints qualified leaders in every town (Titus 1:5-16).
  • He sets forth healthy leadership qualifications (v. 5-9) and how to deal decisively with unhealthy leaders (vs. 10-16).
  • He makes sure that sound doctrine is taught throughout the church (Titus 2:1-15).
  • He promotes healthy thinking and healthy living (vs. 1-10), which is found in the gospel’s power and motivation (vs. 11-14).
  • He continually reminds God’s people how to live out the gospel in this world (Titus 3:1-14).
  • He reminds them to “be ready to do good” (v. 2), to “be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (v. 8), and “to learn to devote themselves to doing what is good” (v. 14) all for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel (vs. 4-7).

So what is a healthy church from Paul’s perspective?

  1. It is led by healthy leaders who are examples to follow.
  2. It deals with rebellion quickly and courageously.
  3. It promotes sound doctrine, strong orthodoxy, along with healthy orthopraxis.
  4. It is intergenerational and branches beyond social structures.
  5. It promotes the centrality of the gospel as the fuel for sanctification and mission.
  6. It does not talk about mission; it fulfills the mission of God.

One of our core convictions is that no leader should lead alone. I believe this also translates onto a corporate level that no church should attempt to achieve God’s mission alone. Our desire is to walk alongside our churches and to be a voice of encouragement. We want to be like that friend you can lean on, as well as that coach who calls his players to the highest level of their potential.

In light of this scriptural foundation, we are serious about church health. In an effort to promote healthy, missionally engaged churches, we have declared May as Church Health Month.

Why May? 

May is an excellent opportunity in a church’s ministry calendar to get a pulse on the ministry. While allowing enough time throughout the summer to make plans and strategic moves before their growth thrust in the fall. We hope we can serve you and your church in maintaining a healthy ministry focus that is gospel-centered and missionally engaged.

We are doubling our efforts on this topic because so many of our churches will be relaunching this fall. Check out the special discounts on Natural Church Development Surveys as well as coaching opportunities.

6 Ideas for Overcoming the COVID Giving Slump

God never estimates what we give from impulse. We are given credit for what we determine in our hearts to give; for the giving that is governed by a fixed determination."

On Thursday, March 18, Gary Rohrmayer led a webinar on helping people experience the timeless truth of moving from impulsive and haphazard giving to systematic and joyful giving. Watch a recap of this 60-minute webinar and check out the accompanying resources on overcoming the COVID giving slump.

Welcome New Part-time Interim Director of Church Strengthening for Southeast Region

We are excited to welcome Kendal Anderson as the Part-Time Interim Director of Church Strengthening for our Southeast region.

Kendal has been a Converge pastor for 35 years, spending the last 15 as pastor of The Crossing Church in the Orlando area which he and his wife Sherry planted. His primary responsibilities will be pastoral care and coaching for our pastors at more than 80 Southeast churches. He will also be working with Bryan Moak, Vice President of Church Strengthening, to continue to expand the strategic and visionary focus of seeing our churches be healthy, gospel-saturated, and reproducing places.

We are thrilled to see what God will do in the weeks and months ahead. Feel free to send him a note of welcome at

Welcome aboard Kendal!

Confess Jesus as Lord this Christmas

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. – Romans 10:9

Augustine wrote, “Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all.” 

When we confess with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord,” we are acknowledging his absolute, unlimited, and universal authority over all creation.  This term ‘Lord’ is translated as ‘Jehovah’ in the Old Testament. Jehovah is the highest and most sacred name for God used by the Jewish people.  Jehovah speaks of self-existence, eternality, and God’s desire to reveal Himself to humanity in such a way that we can know and relate to Him.  

In declaring “Jesus is Lord” we are also recognizing his ownership.  Scripture teaches that we were “ransomed” (Mark 10:45), “bought” (II Corinthians 6:20) and “purchased” (Revelation 5:9) by the death of Jesus so that we could be set free from the slavery of sin to “become slaves to God” (Romans 5:22).  Therefore, surrendering ourselves to his ultimate control.  The Apostle Paul sets a beautiful example for us in writing, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Confessing, declaring, and affirming Christ lordship is only one part of the equation, Paul continues by stating, “and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9).  Confessing is the intellectual assent to the truths of the gospel but “believing in your heart” is a volitional act of your will.  It is an entrusting of one’s life and eternity to the risen Lord and living Savior.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very center of the Christian faith. One Author wrote, “Apart from the resurrection Christianity would be little more than a well-intentioned ethical system.”  We see the resurrection is at the heart of the apostles preaching, Peter declared, “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins” (Acts 5:30-31).

Confession is the verbal expression of our deepest convictions, and yet our sincere beliefs will always lead to us to personal transformation (Romans 6:1-7).  This is not an ‘either/or’ statement but a ‘both/and’ truth.  We must confess and believe that the Lord Jesus is alive and he has active authority over lives.  Therefore, we can make this very personal confession that Jesus is my Risen Lord and my Living Savior.

My prayer for you this Christmas as we end such a difficult year is that we will not be people who consume Christianity but we will be people consumed by the living Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your encouragement, personal support, and financial commitment to Converge MidAmerica as we start and strengthen churches that declared that Jesus Christ is LORD!

An Invitation from Pastor Darryn Scheske

In normal times I’m always excited to gather with our Converge MidAmerica family in Chicago every April. We celebrate what God has done in us and through us as we partner together at this great banquet. Well we missed that opportunity this past April because of COVID-19, but we still need to celebrate the miracles and the milestones of our partnership.

That’s why I’d love for you to join me on Thursday, November 12. We’re going to host a special, one-hour, online virtual meetup where we can celebrate together the testimonies of lives changed by God and the churches that we’ve started and strengthened together.

Best of all, my friend Pastor Jeffrey Johnson’s going to bring a message from God’s word just for this moment for all of us. He’s my favorite preacher; he never fails to inspire and challenge. I’m looking forward to hearing some fresh vision of the impact that we can make together.

Will you register online at It’s happening on Thursday, November 12 at 7 pm CST / 8 pm EST. You won’t want to miss it.

Your church is reopening and trauma is coming

I had always believed church to be a safe place. Through years spent attending and pastoring various churches, I developed a deep love and respect for the local church. But I would soon learn that church isn’t really safe at all.

Two major events stole my feeling of security. First, my wife of 20 years succumbed to breast cancer. Second, 10 years later, my 21-year-old son, Taylor, was the victim of a homicide. Both scenarios were very public.

As a pastor, I felt I was living in a fishbowl. Suddenly, the church was no longer a refuge. It became a frightening place that seemed too fearful to manage. Leaders didn’t know what to do. Congregants descended on me. I wanted to hide.
Like many other lead pastors, I have discovered working during this COVID-19 pandemic is difficult. We pastors are facing unprecedented situations and flailing in the dark for solutions, but congregants are hurting, too. Trauma has reared its ugly head, and it’s not going away.

As your church reopens, you will see hurting and damaged people coming through your doors. Not only are they dealing with current hardships brought on by the pandemic, but past trauma has been triggered in many of them.

According to a recent article in Medical News Today, “The COVID-19 pandemic has many potential sources of trauma, such as experiencing the death of a loved one. For some people, this can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also exacerbate existing PTSD symptoms.”

Congregants, like everyone else, are hurting. Here are some suggestions to help you make your church a safe and loving place as you begin to meet again.

Practice the art of presence

As pastors, we feel we have to say the right thing. People are continually looking to us for advice, and even when we aren’t sure what to say, we mumble something that sounds very pastoral. When a person is experiencing trauma, it’s often better not to say anything.

In Romans 12:15, we are commanded to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” In Job 2:11-13, we notice that Job’s friends ministered to him in silence: “And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”

The most meaningful way others comforted me during the darkness of my suffering was simply by being present. Some would walk by and just touch my elbow. That gesture said, “I am here if you need me.” Others would pray or offer to care for the kids to give me a break.
Whatever the case, they weren’t demanding anything of the sufferer or looking for quick fixes. They were practicing the art of presence.
When one of my staff members lost a son to suicide, I had nothing to say. So, I just sat with the family for hours. It’s all they needed and wanted. I have repeated that practice over the years, and it has become a joy to simply be. Your presence will speak volumes to one who is suffering.

Talk about your suffering

A powerful way to help your congregants deal with their suffering is to talk about your own. Pastors do suffer, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” said, “I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”

A powerful way to help your congregants deal with their suffering is to talk about your own.

He understood that a congregant could find healing when he knows that his pastor understands his pain. When I share what it was like to raise three young children after losing a wife, receiving a call in the middle of the night from homicide detectives, and wading through press conferences and television interviews, I have the congregants’ attention.
It’s not to glorify me. It’s to find common ground with them.
I can’t count the number of funerals I’ve officiated where I’ve simply said to the family, “I have been where you are.” Instantly, they see me as a real and vulnerable person. I am no longer the holy man or a hired gun in their eyes. I have their ear. I can minister to them in a deeper way.
Trauma is coming through your door. Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles and how the pandemic has affected you. Give your flock a pathway toward healing.

Don’t assume anything

When you look out and see smiling faces in your worship center, it’s easy to assume they’re all doing well. But they’re not.
A recent Washington Post article chronicled the massive damage that’s been done by COVID-19. According to the story, “Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, the country is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma. Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.”

Allow your shepherd’s heart to take you deep into the suffering of another. This is what you are called to do. It’s the most gratifying part of ministry.

Churchgoers are experts at pretending. They can make anyone believe anything for a couple of hours on Sunday morning.
But it’s a mistake to think there’s not deep-set pain behind the masks, literally and figuratively. It is up to the shepherd to help make the church a safe environment for people to express true hurt and pain.
Jesus could see the coming pain Jerusalem would experience because of her rejection of him. This caused him great distress.
His shepherd’s heart shows through in Luke 19:41-42: “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’”
Allow your shepherd’s heart to take you deep into the suffering of another. This is what you are called to do. It’s the most gratifying part of ministry.

Trauma is real, and it is prominent in people’s lives. Don’t let this opportunity go by because you assume everyone is OK.

Train your flock

COVID-19 has offered a wonderful chance to train others to care for the flock. This training really isn’t optional.
Paul commanded believers to pass along their knowledge to others. In 2 Timothy 2:2, the apostle wrote, “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
New and emerging resources are available to help you do this. I am honored to host a podcast entitled LifeSupport, which is available on the Faith Radio network of stations. The podcast’s goal is to help trauma sufferers find more of Christ and to help the Christian community learn how to come alongside them.
Five Stone Media is doing excellent work in this area, equipping ministry leaders to help those who are suffering. There are also many other resources, such as Stephen Ministries and GriefShare.

The point is: Don’t struggle to deal with congregants’ trauma on your own. Allow others the blessing of helping you.

Help your people find Christ in suffering

Times are hard, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept of Christ’s glorious work in suffering. It is within suffering that Jesus shows himself in a way that is magnificent and life-changing.
Many a night I’ve lain in bed and felt unbearable pain. It seemed darkness was winning.

When trauma comes through your door, Christ will be waiting to do miracles and bring a deepening of faith to your church you’ve never imagined.

To combat this sense of descending into darkness, I would listen to faith-filled music and pray. Without fail, Jesus emerged. He did not take the pain away, but I’ve learned to love and trust him in a new and powerful way.
It is through pain that we find unshakable faith and learn to obey God’s commands. The psalmist wrote: “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

I am committed to ushering my flock into God’s throne room by means of their suffering. When trauma comes through your door, Christ will be waiting to do miracles and bring a deepening of faith to your church you’ve never imagined.

Take care of yourself

Finally, in the midst of this pandemic, pastors are struggling. I must admit, I am terrible at self-care, but I am working on it.
You will have nothing to give your sheep if you are burned out, angry and frustrated. Pastoral fatigue is real, and we all suffer from it.
You need to watch out for your body and mind. Satan attacks pastors, and he is after you. We all know this.
1 Peter 5:8 offers this reminder: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
I pray God will help you make your church a safe place where congregants can discover the love of Jesus amid suffering. Please take this seriously. Make no mistake about it: Trauma is about to come through your door.

Merger FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Merger

What states make up the Southeast District, how many churches does that constitute, and what is the cultural make-up of the region?

What precipitated the original discussion of a potential merger?

In February of this year, Ernie Cabrera reached out to Gary Rohrmayer and shared the need that Converge Southeast was facing.  Gary shared the steps that were taken to facilitate the Michigan/MidAmerica Merger in 2009-10 and recommended that the first step be that the CSE Board send a letter of inquiry to the CMA Board. This letter, after much prayer and consideration by the CSE Board, was sent early May and brought to the attention of the CMA Board at the May board meeting.

In early March, Gary Rohrmayer brought this to the attention of Scott Ridout who shared a few concerns and important issues such as the Caribbean to be a part of the merger and that there would need to be some plan for the region to become autonomous again. Finally, that the other regional leaders were to be made aware of the merger plan.

What were the major issues surrounding the Southeast’s desire to merge?

The major issues were finances, staffing experience and systems. Ever since the financial crash 12 years ago, CSE has struggled to be financially viable even with the financial assistance of Converge National and the other ten Converge Districts throughout the country. This has impacted the district in its ability to staff appropriately and to create and implement needed systems, all of which CMA can bring to the table.

Why would CMA desire to merge?

There are no financial advantages to this merger.  CSE has no financial assets, only missional opportunities.  To put it in simpler terms: CMA has an opportunity to be neighborly and CSE is asking for our assistance. There were others that offered to help but CSE believes that CMA is the best organization to help them in their time of need.  The generosity of CMA churches, CMA’s financial strength, the talent of the administrative and ministry teams, the executive team and Gary Rohrmayer’s 22 years of regional leadership experience all played a key role in CSE’s desire to ask CMA to assist them during this time. With all of this in mind, the CMA Board desires to take this step of faith because we collectively believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us forward in this endeavor and we are seeking the Spirit’s confirmation from our members.

Is this arrangement forever, or is there a plan to “re-separate” the regions?

The Resolution states: “AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, believing it will take 8-10 years for the CSE family of churches to become healthy and vibrant, the CMA board will regularly and prayerfully consider the efficacy and strategic Kingdom value of CSE becoming an independent entity again.”

This issue will be regularly visited by the CMA Board. Nothing would make us happier than to see this region become healthy and financially viable again, but our experience tells us that it is a long-range plan.

Also, we are deliberately choosing to keep each region’s unique identity. Converge MidAmerica will establish two additional entities (DBA), Converge Southeast and Converge Caribbean, that are governed by one board and led by one executive staff team.   The cost efficiencies for centralized administration, financial and legal, will allow us to invest more resources into field staff.

What happens to the CMA/CSE staff? Particularly, will we have the same access to staff as we have had in the past?

Yes, every MidAmerica Pastor and lay leader will have access to CMA staff.

CMA’s Church Strengthening and Church Planting Staff will make strategic hires in the Southeast and in MidAmerica that will not only assure the coaching, training and resourcing we currently have, but to see these improved through our systems and services. 

Our long-term vision is to have a dedicated church strengthening and church planting person in every region where we have a significant number of churches.  As the funding comes in from our churches, we will continue making those hires.

Are there any theological differences between CMA and CSE?

No, every church in each Converge district is committed to upholding Converge’s Affirmation of Faith and the conviction “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.” 

Will there be two regional presidents, or will Gary lead the entire area?

Gary will function as the one regional president.  Ernie Cabrera will function on the Executive Team as VP of Church Partnerships.  50% of his time will be working in the area of affiliating churches into the Converge Family.  25% will be focused in Pastoral Care.  25% will be focused on overseeing and expanding the Caribbean mission team.  Today there are 3 full-time missionaries serving churches in the Caribbean and we are looking to see that team be expanded.

What will it cost CMA financially to do this merger and will we be able to fund CSE and continue to fund what is going on within CMA?

In 1999 the Converge MidAmerica Board of Overseers made an intentional commitment to spend down the assets they had accumulated over their 165 year history.  From 2000-2010 we spent $2,245,000 to see 66 churches planted during that time.  In 2010 the Board of Overseers asked Gary Rohrmayer to address this issue.  By going to a part-time practioner model in church strengthening and church planting from 2010-2017, the merger with Converge Michigan, the sale of two businesses started in the early 2000’s, a significant donation, and the continual increase of giving from our churches, we had 7 years of positive cash flow and increased our assets $2,350,000 along with seeing 89 churches started in 2010-2018.

The Board of Overseers is prepared to take the same step of faith that it took in 1999 and spend down the necessary assets as a strategic investment into the kingdom of God without hurting the CMA financial position.  We are under the conviction that a continual investment in the harvest is the best way to protect our financial future.

This seems to be moving very quickly. Why is that?

The timeline has always been driven by Converge Southeast because of their financial challenges.  Recently they have decided to slow down the process, consider all the options in front of them and to develop a thorough communication plan to their churches which led to a new merger timeline.

Maintaining Our Focus

Remember Dug, the talking dog from the movie “Up”? He had a device that allowed his master to hear and understand him. What we discover is that as much as Dug wants to focus intently on his master, he is constantly distracted by squirrels. Dug’s hilarious distraction has become part of our vernacular. We now call them “squirrel” moments.

Brothers and sisters, I think that we might be in potential squirrel moment. As much as we desire to stay focused on the Master, I fear our focus is being tempted to shift to other things, even important things. We are now approaching month seven of the COVID 19 pandemic. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how life would be so radically altered and how we do church to pivot constantly. We are entering a presidential election cycle that once again is dividing our country into differing ideologies, and according to some, who I vote for makes some sort of statement as to my spiritual maturity. Our cities are literally blowing up with unrest and we wonder if it will ever “settle down” again. If there was ever a potential for distraction, this would be it.

Recently, I read Psalm 63 and I was struck with my desperate need to re-focus on the Master. “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So, I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.” (Ps. 63:1-2)

Do you see it? Our focus must always be on Him. Our desire must always be for Him. Our gaze must always be fixed on Him. Pastor, is this your truth today? Are you pursuing Him above all the other things that swirl around us? Are you preaching and teaching and sharing on your social media ways to help your people eagerly focus on the only One who satisfies? Are you reminding your people that in the midst of living in a dry, desolate land without water, the only hope we have is to maintain our gaze on the Source of living water? Pastor, if we are not focused on the Master, how will be able to lead our congregations to do the same? The tendency toward distraction is real and this distraction will not only affect us, but our congregations as well.

Verses 3-5 are most striking and convicting to me. “My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So, I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.” Is He better than life? Do you really believe it? Do the people in your church really believe it?

Losing our focus on the Master will manifest itself in fear. It is only when we fix our gaze on Him that we will experience joy that transcends fear, and allows us, even in the midst of distraction to lift our hands in joyful praise. This is what pastoral leadership demands. This should be our focus in every conversation.

My prayer is that the churches of Converge MidAmerica will focus, in the midst of these difficult days, on earnestly seeking the Master. I pray that we would encourage each other to keep our eyes fixed on the Master. And finally, I pray that we would continue to press into a better together that shows everyone around us what it means to live in the joy of the Master!

We love you!

Gary’s Observations Concerning the Merger

One of the values I have sought to operate from throughout my ministry is, “We as Jesus followers must be ready to move where God is moving!” Throughout this merger discussion, we have prayed to see the hand of God in this opportunity because it could just as easily be a missional distraction as a missional opportunity.

After two months of multi-level meetings with both boards, a joint task force and staff members, as well as extensive research and due diligence, both regional boards have unanimously agreed to a merger plan to be proposed to the delegates of our churches for a vote of affirmation.

As we approach this merger here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. This merger is only possible because of the generosity of Converge MidAmerica Churches and our financial supporters.
  2. This merger is rooted in the lessons learned from the successful merger between Michigan and MidAmerica that happened ten years ago which has led to over 50% growth of that region.
  3. This agreement is in line with Converge President Scott Ridout’s desire to see stronger regional entities in Converge as well as his desire to see that one day Converge Southeast will become a self-governing and self-supporting ministry again.
  4. To keep each region’s unique identity, Converge MidAmerica will establish two additional entities (DBA), Converge Southeast and Converge Caribbean that are governed by one board and lead by one executive staff team.
    President – Gary Rohrmayer;
    VP of Church Strengthening – Bryan Moak;
    VP of Church Planting – Danny Parmelee;
    VP of Church Partnerships – Ernie Cabrera.
  5. This agreement will force us to grow smaller through a strong presence of Together Groups, consistent regional gatherings of 8-12 pastors in a geographic region where peer learning, mutual encouragement and missional engagement happens.
  6. This agreement will be another step to a long-term vision of having part-time church strengthening and church planting personnel in every region where we have significant church presence.
  7. This agreement provides the greatest missional opportunity in the history of Converge MidAmerica. Not only will it provide church planting and church partnerships in five additional states but opens the doors for developing a strategic missionary force reaching 27 countries with 43 million people in the Caribbean. Today, Converge Southeast has three full-time missionaries serving in the Caribbean and we could dream of 10-20 missionaries being sent out from our churches to reach this part of the world in the next ten years.

All in all, we sense God is moving in this merger with Converge Southeast and that it will enrich the mission of MidAmerica and will not detract from it. We believe that with this merger, we will have the opportunity to impact over 100,000 men, women and children with the Gospel of Jesus through the starting and strengthening of churches.

Let us all continue to prayerfully seek God’s leading and confirmation in this matter.

Four Reasons to Relaunch Your Church with a 21 Days Campaign

Pastor, this fall would be an excellent opportunity to take your church to a deeper level as you relaunch your church. Converge MidAmerica’s 21 Days Campaigns are an opportunity for you as the Pastor to lead your church to a deeper level of prayer, generosity, and evangelism.

Here are four reasons for during a 21 Day Campaign in your church:

1. They focus your people on their daily relationship with Jesus.

One of the critical disciplines in discipleship is to teach your people how to have a meaningful quiet time. Teaching people to feed on the word of God and to speak to God in prayer is essential to move them on the path of maturity. During a 21 Day Campaign, you drive that principle deep into the life of your church and give them the tools to help facilitate this discipline.

2. They inspire spiritual formation in the key areas of discipleship.

You cannot manufacture spiritual growth, but you can create an atmosphere for spiritual growth. In reminding your people of the essential habits of discipleship–bible study, prayer, fasting, generosity, and evangelism–while giving them useful on-ramp tools, you will ensure your church is spiritually healthy and missionally engaged.

3. They rally the church around a focused theme.

The prophet Daniel, who was deeply concerned about his people’s spiritual condition, prayed and fasted for 21 days (Daniel 10:1-3). There are certain seasons in our lives when we need to give focused attention to our personal spiritual growth and the spiritual needs of our family, church, and community.

4. They help you drive the vision and mission of Jesus deeper into your church.

Leading your church through a 21-day campaign allows you to shepherd and lead the church in a unified way. Campaigns give you an opportunity to lift your church’s eyes to the high calling of the church in a practice way. Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Mathew 28:19-20).

I have said, “The church is dying by assumptions!” We assume our leaders have meaningful devotional lives yet are spiritually drying up right in front of our eyes. We assume our leaders our getting into meaning spiritual conversations yet have not shared their faith in years. We assume our leaders our tithing and growing in generosity. However, when a financial assessment reveals some of your leaders have no record of giving to the church in years, you feel deceived.

Pastor, don’t let your church die by assumptions; instead, bring focused attention to the essentials to discipleship.

Prayer – 21 Dangerous Prayers

Fasting – 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Bible Study – 21 Courageous Prayers

Generosity – 21 Days towards a Generous Life

Evangelism – 21 Days to Increasing Your Spiritual Conversations

P.S. All these campaigns can be done entirely digitally.

Converge MidAmerica and Southeast Districts Affirm Merger Plan

Last week, the Executive Board of Overseers for Converge MidAmerica and the Board of Stewards for Converge Southeast sensed the Holy Spirit leading us to join our ministries and unanimously affirmed a merger plan and agreement.

After two months of multi-level meetings with both boards, a joint task force and staff, we have agreed to propose this merger to the delegates of our churches for a vote of affirmation.

Converge Southeast is scheduling a virtual Annual Meeting for August 26, 2020 and Converge MidAmerica is scheduling a virtual Special Business Meeting for September 24, 2020. We will provide more information on the proposed plan and merger agreement in the next few weeks.

In preparation for this historical vote and unprecedented missional opportunity, Converge MidAmerica and Converge Southeast will be hosting a series of virtual town hall and prayer meetings. The first Town Hall Meeting will be July 28, 2020, at 7 pm CST (8 pm EST) with the Converge MidAmerica and Southeast Executive Teams.

Thank you for your prayers as we consider this opportunity.

Creating a Culture of Generosity Throughout Your Church

If you are going to grow a church significantly one of the skill you are going to need is to learn how to create and shape the culture of your organization. When we speak about culture, we are referring to an organization’s “values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups.” (HT) Building and shaping an organizations culture is not something that happens overnight, it takes time, relentless focus, consistent practices and inspirational leadership.

So how does one build a culture of generosity?

1. Pray for It!

Generosity is a spiritual issue. It is natural to hold on to things! It is supernatural to give away things. Generosity is a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church cites the true motivation for the overwhelming generosity of the believers in Macedonia, “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (II Corinthians 8:5). When the Lord truly has our hearts, then he has our possessions. Asking our generous God to reign in the hearts of our people is the first act a leader needs to take in building a culture of generosity.

2. Model It!

Leaders set the pace of an organization. One of the nine prayers of a missional leader is “Father pour out a generous spirit in my life.” Generosity is a fruit of the spirit. Paul lists kindness as one of the by-products of being in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Like the word love (agape), kindness (chrestotes) is closely related to hesed in the Old Testament, which stands for God’s covenant love. Commenting on hesed, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, “loving-kindness — is not far from the fullness of the meaning of the word.” (HT) So loving-kindness is the practical out workings of love in our lives. Thus we have the biblical definition of generosity. As a leader am I generous with my time, my words and my resources and how is my family, leaders and church witnessing that in my life? Generous living leads to generous giving.

3. Teach It!

Teaching generosity principles is critical to the spiritual formation of an individual and for a church, yet we shy away from teaching these financial principles. Brian Kluth writes, “We need to teach people to be faithful givers, not because the budget says so, but because the Bible says so. Our focus needs to be to teach people to be faithful givers to God, not to the church budget. Our goal is that our people please God, not the church finance committee. Church budgets are spending plans, not the giving goal. It is the Scriptures (all 2,350 verses on finances, generosity, and material possessions) that will help people become faithful stewards and givers.” (HT) I would add to this that we help them to be better lovers of God and followers of Jesus. Over 20 years ago, I did my first series on giving. I was afraid, timid and concerned that everyone was going to leave my church because I said that dreaded word in church: MONEY! The surprising thing was that many people began to experience the liberating joy of knowing Jesus. When I go back to my first church, many people comment on that sermon series and the impact it had on their lives.

4. Reinforce It!

Learning to say thank-you well is one of the ways for reinforcing position behavior. Expressing thanks is not optional for believers. Paul’s letters are filled with gratitude on many levels, even for financial support (Philippians 4:14-18). Your people deserve to have their generosity acknowledged for several reasons:

To know that you received their gift, especially for first time givers.
To know how their gift is being used, this is a vision casting opportunity.
To reinforce your relationship with them.
And finally, to reinforce the work of God in their lives. Generosity is a by-product of the work of God in people’s hearts.

5. Celebrate It!

Vince Lombardi once said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.” Celebrations have a great way of keeping churches and organizations mentally alert. In Encouraging the Heart, James Kouzes & Barry Posner write, “Celebrations—public statements by their very nature—give expression to and reinforce commitment to key values. They visibly demonstrate that the organization is serious about adhering to its principles. So it is important to be clear about the statements you’re making. What are you reinforcing? What are you saying is significant about this moment? Parties are fine, but celebrations are more than parties. They’re ceremonies and rituals that create meaning. When planning a celebration, every leader should ask, ‘What meaning am I trying to create?’ Public ceremonies crystallize personal commitments, binding people together and letting them know they’re not alone.”

Someone once said, “You are what you celebrate!”

Reflective Questions:

How often do you pray for a spirit of generosity to fall upon the hearts of your people?
How are you and your leaders becoming models of generosity?
How is generosity being taught throughout the church? In public worship services, affinity gatherings, small groups and one-on-one mentoring?
How are you specifically reinforcing vision, generosity principles and the generous acts of individuals with in your church?
How strategic are you in planning and creating the celebration of generosity within your church?

Getting Ready for the “New Normal”

We all know we’re in an unprecedented time. We hear about it on the news. It’s in ads all around us. We’re living it daily both at home, at work (nowadays, these are the same place) and at our place of worship. As we are closer and closer to gradually moving on to the next phase, we can’t help but look to the future. What do we need to do to get ready for the “New Normal”?

Our strategic partner Warehouse Direct has put together a list of areas to look at in your church as you get ready to define what your “New Normal” looks like. And don’t worry, they have experts on hand to help you navigate the whole way.

Set Up for Social Distancing

Reopening safely means looking at your workspace and the common areas of your church to ensure they are optimized for social distancing. We’ve created effective spaces for many clients and can help you adapt your facility for today’s guidelines. Some things to think about:

  • Do you have open seating areas that require barriers?
  • Do you need additional permanent or movable partitions?
  • Do you need to add barriers at the end of the aisles?
  • Do you need barriers for in-person meetings?
  • How will you handle in-person collaboration?
  • Do you need to look into easily cleanable surfaces?
  • Do you need signage or floor decals to direct traffic, tape to mark off seating for social distancing?

Prepare for Protection and Prevention

Infection control is going to be a key factor when you reopen. Incorporating health screenings, keeping PPE supplies ready, adding hands-free dispensing, and reducing touchpoints are essential. Look to us for solutions that help minimize transmission. Some areas to consider are:

  • Is your bathroom optimized with hands free paper dispensers instead of air dryers?
  • Do you have hands free soap and hand sanitizer dispensers in your bathrooms, kitchen, entrances?
  • Have you thought about installing foot pedals on your doors (especially bathrooms) to open without contamination?
  • Will you need to upgrade existing food service items like individually wrapped disposable utensils?

Make Clean a Priority

Cleaning is critical to providing a safe transition. In addition to disinfecting, sanitizing, and hand hygiene, what cleaning products do you need for the “new normal”?  Some things to think about:

  • You’ll probably need to increase your cleaning schedule. Do you have a written checklist so all areas are cleaned?
  • Are there cleaning machines you need to help keep productivity high without adding labor?
  • Are you fully stocked with sanitizers, disinfectants, soaps, and cleaning supplies?
  • How are you going to keep your spaces more organized for easier cleaning?

Plan for Safety Supplies

PPE, disinfectants, and sanitizers will now be an office staple, and you’ll want at least a 30 to 60 day supply to avoid running out of difficult to find products. Our storage, dispensing, and disposal solutions will help you manage these supplies and provide easy access in public areas and at personal workspaces. Some areas to consider are:

  • Do you have a stock of PPE supplies like masks or face shields?
  • Do you know the different brands of sanitization wipes or hand sanitizer that is available?

Communicate Clearly

Gathering places are changing and it will be important to keep your congregation and workforce informed of the new safety requirements for anyone visiting your church. Our signage and whiteboards are a smart way to communicate new protocols, social-distancing reminders, cleaning guidelines, hallway traffic flow, and more.

  • What are the areas that require additional signage?
  • Do you have areas where people naturally line up or congregate around?

Ready to get situated for the “new normal” in your church? 

Contact: Debbie Cladis, your Warehouse Direct Account Manager to discuss solutions for your phased in facility reopening plans.

Don’t Forget to Pray

As much as I would love to hit the reset button on 2020, that isn’t going to happen. So instead of focusing on what “isn’t” right with 2020, I have instead begun to ask the question, “God, what are you trying to teach me?” I believe he’s teaching me at least two things:

First, I believe God is reminding me that my home Is not here, but rather in heaven. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:20 “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” I say I’m looking forward to heaven, but do I really live that way? I have a nice place to live, great job, lots of food, many friends and an amazing family. God is showing me that I have become too comfortable with my “home” here on earth. Brothers and sisters, I believe God wants us to be reminded that we have a mission to accomplish here on earth, but we are not citizens here, and we must live each day with a longing to arrive at our real home that awaits us in heaven!

Secondly, God has been convicting me that in all of my conversations about the difficult things we are dealing with as a country, I am not spending near enough time focusing on prayer as a critical piece of the solution. Am I putting a priority on prayer that formulates everything I do in my personal life, my church life, and my work in Converge MidAmerica? We started three years ago a ministry called Prayer First! It was a reminder to all of us in Converge MidAmerica that we needed to put a priority on prayer as first importance. I can honestly say that I have not been living with that first of all priority like I need to.

What about you? Is prayer a first of all priority for you as you continue to dialogue with others? Is prayer a priority for your church as you continue to struggle through what’s next for your “new normal”? As the early church was formed and expanded in ways that can only be described as incredible, it was marked by a concerted effort of prayer. Not just token prayers, but nights of prayer, days of prayer, seasons of prayer and God moved! Are we praying like that?

Ephesians 6 reminds us in the explanation of the armor of God that all the pieces of armor are put on with prayer. “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (6:18) Brothers and sisters, let us, as a movement of churches, pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayer. Let us look for ways to wrestle with God in prayer. Let us look at our schedules, our thoughts, our activities and make sure they are saturated in prayer. Let us keep striving to make “Prayer First”!

The Missing Ingredient to Leadership Development

Jesus did not tell us to “go make leaders” but he did tell us to “go make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). If your church does not have a strong spiritual formation plan it will have a weak leadership development plan. Not every disciple will be a leader but every leader must be a growing disciple reproducing the life of Christ in others.

Leaders who are not growing disciples are simply task managers at best and at worst could be stumbling blocks for those they lead.

If you have a leader who has great influence but little spiritual depth this is a recipe for disaster. This is why churches have elders, pastors, board members and leaders who don’t study God’s word, pray, tithe, or share their faith. Leaders who are not spiritually grounded will burn out, lash out and eventually fall out of the church and take out many others with them.

Here are three practical suggestions for ensuring that you are making disciples as well as leaders.

1) Have a reproducible discipleship process that helps you identify leaders out of the harvest.

Asa brand-new follower of Jesus, I had a co-worker who invested in me every day at lunchtime. For two years he answered my many questions, inspired me to study my bible and read Christian biographies, and gave me a love of God’s mission. When I became a church planting pastor, I discovered that very few people had had that type of experience and I desired to make sure our church was going to provide it to everyone who desired it.

After being completely frustrated in trying to make para-church discipleship tools work in the local church, I decided to develop tools that were church friendly and helped assimilate new believers into the life of the church. Asking the question, “What does a fully devoted follower of Jesus look like?”

I developed a one year curriculum with these six goals or outcomes in mind:

  • Growing in intimacy with Jesus through the practice of spiritual disciplines.
  • Sharing Christnaturally with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Serving in the church and throughout the community.
  • Mentoring others spiritually through discipleship.
  • Putting God first in our finances and growing in generosity.
  • Understanding the centrality of the gospel on my life.

I felt if we could teach people how to be Jesus first in their day, week, finances, and relationship this would help them live out and within the mission of Jesus.

2) Be a “disciple” first and a pastor second.

Every Monday/Wednesday mornings I had standing discipleship breakfasts. I met with men who were new in their faith or who were never discipled, we spent time studying the bible, memorizing scripture, and wrestling through the implications of the gospel in their lives.

Too many pastors are waiting for ready-made leaders to walk in the doors instead of identifying, discovering, and making leaders out of the harvest through a holistic discipleship process.

The future of every church, whether large or small, I believe is in the harvest … future members, finances, and leaders they will all be found as we enter into the redemptive work of Jesus.

The more successful you are at developing disciples the more successful you will be at developing leaders.

3) Get your best people (staff, lay leaders, mature followers) investing their lives in others through discipleship.

One of the covenant statements we had with our staff and our elders is that they would invest in at least one person every year by taking them through our discipleship material with the goal of seeing those they invested in repeating the process with someone else. We need to get our best leaders reproducing themselves.

How do you keep your leaders fresh in their prayer/devotional life? Have them teach a new believer every year on how to meet with God on a daily basis. How to keep your leaders growing in generosity? Have them teach a new believer about tithing and generosity. How do you keep a leader from slipping into bad relational habits? Have them teach a new believer
how to maintain and practice biblical relational principles.

Every church needs a leadership engine. Your discipleship process is the fuel to make the engine hum. Solving the discipleship issues in your church will be the key to solving your leadership issues.


  • Are you as a pastor investing your life into a new believer or undiscipled Christian?
  • Does your church have a reproducible discipleship or spiritual mentoring process?
  • How many of your leaders have been discipled and are discipling others?
  • Do you have a definition of what a disciple of Jesus is and does?
  • Do you have a pathway so those who want to be discipled can be?

Relaunch Coaching Cohorts Reach 100+ Churches

Over 100 churches participated in our 4 -week Relaunch coaching cohorts.  Using Zoom, all participants gathered in a large group, focusing on insights of relaunching in light of COVID-19.

The real power of the coaching cohorts happened in smaller group settings. Each small group had a coach that facilitated discussion based on worksheets. Every church has a unique context, so each pastor was given the opportunity to work at analyzing and implementing a 90-day plan to relaunch. Each pastor developed a plan they believed would work best for their church, and in sharing their ideas created a beautiful synergy of pastors learning from one another.

Relaunch was a great example of churches being “better together,” and we are confident that the time and effort spent in this coaching cohort will have a significant Kingdom impact.

If you missed Relaunch, you can download worksheets and watch sessions on-demand on our website.

Seven Qualities of a Remarkable Citizen

In this 2-part sermon series, Gary Rohrmayer shares Seven Qualities of a Remarkable Citizen as found in Titus 3:1-2. 

Below you can download the video and notes for use in your church service. We hope these videos will encourage and empower your congregation to live remarkably in these times. 

Join us for a Prayer Gathering

“Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” Joel 1:14

B. Meyer wrote, “Whenever our life is visited by special trials and perplexities, we should withdraw ourselves from common pursuits, and lay bare our heart-secrets, so that we may learn the cause of God’s controversy with us.”

The four things the Prophet Joel calls God’s people to do when facing a national disaster is:

  1. Declare a holy fast.  Joel is calling God’s people to consecrate themselves through the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting is more about replacing than it is about abstaining. Replacing daily habits with times for focused attention on God’s word and prayer. Fasting without replacing is nothing but a simple diet.
  2. Call a sacred assembly.  One of the great gifts we can give to the Lord is our time. Joel was calling the people of God to give of their time to feed on God’s word and to pray together with God’s people. Remember, the effort that took place for people to gather together in those days was daunting and sacrificial.
  3. Summon the elders and all who live in the land.  Joel wanted the leaders of every family to come and represent them before the Lord. Who is on your prayer list, and who are you representing to the God of mercy?
  4. Cry out to the Lord.  This is not a sweet bedtime prayer but a soul-shaking prayer for God to relent and move mercifully on behalf of his people. David voices such a prayer, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

Remember Joel’s call to prayer and fasting is all in the context of repentance. “Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God” (Joel 1:13).

A.W. Tozer wrote, “Repentance isn’t only sorrow for past sins, it’s also a determination to now do the will of God as He reveals it to us.”  

So, pastors let us show God our determination to do his will at all cost during this global crisis.  Will you join me for a day of fasting, a sacred “zoom meeting”, representing your church and our community as we collectively cry out to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are inviting all of the pastors, staff, and lay leaders of Converge MidAmerica churches to join us on Tuesday, June 9, for prayer and fasting as we go to God and cry out for mercy.

Please register here to receive the Zoom link in your inbox; we’ll see you on June 9 at 2:00 pm CST.

The Importance of a Regular Check-up

Every year my wife makes me go to the doctor for a check-up. It’s not my favorite thing, but I do it anyway, even though I feel fine. Why? I do it because I want to make sure that I’m ACTUALLY fine. No news is not necessarily good news, so doing preventative medicine helps me to deal with any issues that might come up before it gets too serious. The church is often referred to as the body of Christ because it is a living organism, and it too needs regular “check-ups” to make sure it is healthy.

For the month of June, we are encouraging all of our churches to do a “check-up” by doing the church health assessment Natural Church Development (NCD). Why do we think it is so important to take this assessment? Because we believe that healthy churches take an honest assessment of their current health, and diligently plan to improve. As a matter of fact, we think a check-up like NCD is so important, that we are offering a discount to our churches. Normally, an NCD costs $400. During the month of June we provide a NCD for $300. If you’ve never taken a NCD before, or can’t remember when you did, we will provide a NCD for $200.

So what’s stopping you from taking your church to the doctor for a check-up? No matter the diagnosis, we are here to walk you through you a treatment plan that will move your church to increased health for your good and for the glory of Christ and His kingdom.

Contact Kirsten at or 847-655-6841 to schedule your NCD.

User-Generated Content for your Social Media

If you’ve read any of our other posts about ideas for social media posts, you know we recommend posting a lot of photos of your congregation to your church’s social media. In these days of online church, however, we have fewer opportunities to take photos of congregations to post on social media. However, we have a great opportunity to involve more people than ever before in our social media posts by soliciting user-generated content. Here are a few ideas for user-generated content your congregation can submit for your church’s social media.

1. Kids!

Ask parents to send in pictures of their kids participating in your church’s children’s curriculum. After all, what parent doesn’t love an excuse to take a picture of their kids?

2. Sunday View.

During your online service, invite congregants to snap a picture of their view of church from home. This could include families in pajamas, coffee tables and televisions, kids huddled around laptops, or any other settings from the homes of your viewers.

3. Online Groups.

Invite your small groups to take a photo or screenshot of their small group on Zoom, Google Hangouts, or however they meet.

4. God Sightings.

Ask your congregation how they’ve seen God at work in their lives. Take those stories and (with permission) share them on social media to encourage your community.

What kinds of content are you posting in the days of online church?

(P.S. These content ideas are inspired by our friends at

Ten Practical Steps to Creating Momentum for Your Relaunch

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18

Every church will have a unique opportunity to Relaunch their ministry this fall. Whether your church is six weeks old or 170 years young, each church will have a chance to reorient their ministries, equip their leaders and inspire their people to fulfill the mission of Jesus of making more and better disciples in their unique context.

Here are ten practical steps to help you and your team to think through your Relaunch Plan.

1. Develop a team.

Too many pastors try to carry the load all by themselves, which is an unbiblical notion. Christianity is a team sport. Team building is one of the skills successful pastors need in their tool belts. Learning to pick the right players on your team is crucial. Guiding and leading the team is imperative. Trusting the team to execute the plan is empowering. Celebrating and encouraging the team is vital. I encourage pastors to use short-term task forces with a specific task, along with a starting and ending point. If you built a task force for each of your major outreach initiatives for fall, winter, and spring, your team-building skills would improve each time. Team building is a skill that is honed through the “learning by doing” process. Getting key influencers involved in the process is vital to building positive momentum throughout the church.

2. Determine a Date.

You will first need to pick a date for this relaunch. In some communities it will be early August, others will be Sunday after Labor Day, and still, others will choose early October. Whatever date you pick is okay as long as you select a date. Momentum will be generated as you bring focus to a specific timeframe. Remember, God, in his infinite wisdom, chose to launch the church on Pentecost. This date has a rich theological significance as well as many practical implications.

3. Develop a timeline.

To develop a reasonable schedule, start with the last date of the project, and work backward. If you are doing a fall growth push, here are a couple of ideas. End your fall outreach campaign on the first weekend in November with a family-friendly, social distancing appropriate comeback event and start July first with the selection of the team. We call this the “three-month rule,” which is to begin the detailed planning process at least three months before the launch of the outreach campaign. Here is an overview of what would happen in those three months:

4. Create a Theme or Big Idea.

Brainstorm ideas for delivering strong biblical content that addresses the heart issues of your mission field. Many pastors struggle with the creative aspects of leadership. I recommend that pastors research and purchase some of the excellent outreach or spiritual growth campaigns available. Many of these come with timelines, job descriptions, graphics, sermon ideas, and small group materials. The key is planning. After the church has done a few of these campaigns, then they can take a shot at developing their own.

5. Promote Prayer:

Raise the spiritual temperature of the church. It is a must to incorporate a church-wide prayer project for before and during the campaign. One example: Call the church to “pray for five neighbors, for five minutes a day, for five weeks” before the outreach campaign. Another idea would be to mobilize the church to prayer walk your whole community before the campaign. You could also call the church to a season of prayer and fasting. Still another idea is to do a 21 Day Prayer Campaign to get your churches to focus on praying missionally for your community.

6. Create Buzz Outside the Church: 

Brainstorm ideas for creating buzz throughout your church, your community, and all the social media platforms. Work with your team to think of ways to get the word out. I like to use the biblical language of sowing when it comes to getting the word out to our community and through our social media networks. Here more is information on the Sowing and Reaping Principle.

7. Create Excitement inside the Church.

Create urgency through effective vision casting. Create energy by promoting opportunities. Creating a sense of synergy throughout the church is essential. Drive the theme throughout the church. Getting every section of the church moving in the same direction is a momentum building experience that creates positive energy and good morale. So, take your theme and drive it throughout the church from seniors to youth, from singles to toddlers!

8. Develop next step opportunities.

Creating opportunities for new guests to connect relationally, as well as spiritually, is crucial to having a successful outreach campaign. Planning some family-friendly event is a great way to get people involved in serving for the first time and connecting relationally with others in the church. Offering entry-level Bible studies like Bible 101 or Christianity 101 within weeks of your outreach campaign is vital in providing those next steps for those that are spiritually interested. Finally, you want to offer people an opportunity to connect with the church and its leadership by providing some newcomer’s gathering or party at the pastor’s event where they hear the story and vision of the church as well as connect relationally with key leaders.

Offer a Clear Call to Action

  • “Go into our online prayer room after the service”
  • “Come to our ‘after party’ immediately after the service to meet other people and discuss the sermon
  • “Download this resource for use during the week
  • “Call a friend and [fill-in response relevant to the sermon], and then in your online small groups, tell each other how it went”
  • “Please let us get to know you better by filling out a digital welcome/connection card”
  • “Take this online survey to find the way that you can best serve right now”
  • “If you prayed to receive Christ, begin telling others by putting something in the chat”
  • “Ask God what He wants you to give financially, and then do whatever He shows you”
  • “Sign up for a ‘meet the pastor webinar’ which temporarily replaces our ‘pizza with the pastor’ get acquainted event”

Source: Warren Bird, ECFA

9. Recruit volunteers to fill needed ministry roles: 

Doing a relaunch is an excellent opportunity to recruit and train new volunteers for setting up, cleaning, event planning, children’s ministry, ushers, greeters, follow up, administration, new hosts for small groups, and small group apprentices and leaders, etc.

10. Drive your vision and values deeper into the culture of your church: 

Remember, anytime you do an outreach campaign, it is an opportunity to drive your missional vision and values deeper into the lives of your people. The values of evangelism, community, spiritual dependence and community transformation come alive during the campaign and provide opportunities for personal growth and corporate maturity.


Pastors, church leaders, and all followers of Jesus, this worldwide pandemic, is providing for us a defining moment. A moment to not only relaunch our churches, but it is also an opportunity to recalibrate our ministry priorities and for you as a pastor to retool pastoral and leadership skills. Pastors, I know, you are psychologically exhausted. I don’t think any of us would have imagined that we would be doing ministry in the fashion we are doing it today. And yet it is in moments like these that God shows up and does the unprecedented. May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give a fresh experience of his strength (Ephesians 3:16), a fresh encounter with his love (Ephesians 3:17-19), and a fresh vision for the future (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Read More: Ten Biblical Principles for Relaunch or Launching Your Church

Lee & Cinnamon’s Faith Testimony

I know the last thing you probably want to think about as a church right now is the idea of a capital campaign. Frankly, you all have so much to think about and a capital campaign isn’t on your radar at all. We get that. But we also want to encourage you to think through your reopening plan with generosity and vision at the forefront, and one effective tool is a capital campaign. Certainly capital campaigns help to raise money for your church. But even more than that, they can be used by God to build an increasing culture of generosity, and propel your church with vision in unique and powerful ways. The above video is just such an example of a campaign’s transformative power. It is a bit long, but I think you will agree that it is both encouraging and reproducible in the life of your church members as well.

We at Converge MidAmerica stand ready to serve you in a capital campaign experience, and are strategizing some unique ways in which we can provide our service over the next months.

  • If you are a church plant that is over two years old, you might be dealing with the reality of changes in your lease space. Now is a good time to think about a permanent space with a long term lease as there will be many commercial real estate spaces opening up. A creative capital campaign can prepare you to move when that door opens.
  • If you are an established church, you have probably been re-envisioning what your future will look like. Issues like upgrading technology and reworking spaces within your current facility have become important. A capital campaign can help position your church for greater gospel effectiveness in a new season of ministry

So give us a call if you’d like to talk more. As always, we love you and stand ready to serve you.

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

In taking this evangelistic journey, we will take a close look at the Three Spheres of Outreach which include: 1) The leader and the people they connect with during the week, 2) The church and those within their sphere of influence, 3) The unconnected, those who know nothing about the church and are disconnected with your people.

In each of these spheres we develop Three Strategies of Outreach, 1) The leader sets the standard through modeling, 2) The leader equips the church to reach into their relational spheres, 3) The church learns how to sow evangelistic seeds into the masses of unconnected people in their community.

One of the foundational principles of scripture is the principle of sowing and reaping.  We see this first in the life of Isaac (Genesis 26:12). He sowed, planted and reaped a hundredfold of crop because of God’s blessing.  Farmers understand this principle in a very practical way, the more seed you plant, the more you will reap at harvest time.  The Apostle Paul in addressing the need for generosity in the life of the Corinthian church wrote, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (II Corinthians 9:6) So my question to you, as it pertains to evangelism, is: How many evangelistic touches are you sowing into the masses of people who are unconnected with your church? The evangelistic fruitfulness of your church is directly related to the amount of evangelistic seeds you are sowing into your community.

Here are four ways to evangelistically touch the unconnected in your community:

  1. Community Service:  Simply serving your community and displaying the love of Christ without overtly making an invitation to attend your church.
  2. Servant Evangelism:  Earning the right to make an invitation to your church through random acts of kindness.
  3. Sharing Your Facilities With Your Community:  How many people go in and out of your facility in a given week?  Treating your facility like a community center is one way to sow evangelistic seeds to the unconnected in your community.
  4. Marketing Your Church’s Message Through the Various Media Opportunities in Your Community:  Every church has a marketing strategy, the only difference is that some are better than others.

Yet, the quantity of seed is only part of the equation, there also needs to be a concern about the quality of the seed. Read Hosea 10:12-13. If you sow righteousness you will reap love, if you sow wickedness you will reap evil.  With very stern words the Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from the nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7)  

In relation to evangelism, here is the question to be answered: How would you rate the quality of the evangelistic seeds you are casting in your community?  

  1. Community Service:  Is the quality and consistency of your community service something that reflects the beauty of Christ?
  2. Servant Evangelism:  Is the quality of your random acts of kindness received as a nuisance or a pleasant surprise?
  3. Sharing Your Facilities:  Do your facilities reflect a sense of care or are they run down?
  4. Marketing:  What type of first impression does your signage, website and promotional materials evoke?

Over the summer, we will take a close look at how to increase the quantity and quality of the evangelistic seeds you are sowing into your community.

Solomon wrote these words, “Sow your seed in the morning and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

Three Stages of Outreach

The next step is to help leaders understand the spheres of outreach that exists within their community. Today we are going to move from understanding to implementation. If we, as leaders, are going to create a system that will stimulate evangelistic activity throughout the local church, then we will have to develop strategies for each sphere within our community. To help us think through the issues, I forced myself to ask ten questions under each area. Feel free to add to the conversation by sending in your own questions or another spin on the questions I came up with.

Strategy #1: MODELING – Creating an example to follow.

  • As a leader, how would your followers say you are modeling personal evangelism throughout your community?
  • As a leader, how are you keeping your heart passionately engaged in the harvest?
  • As a leader, how are you upgrading your evangelistic skills?
  • As a leader, is evangelistic activity built into your weekly schedule?
  • As a leader, how are you serving and connecting with community leaders?
  • As a leader, how available are you to people in need?
  • As a leader, what fun activities with unchurched people are you participating in?
  • As a leader, how do you identify “men and women of peace” in your community?
  • As a leader, how do you engage people in spiritual conversation and keep them engaged?
  • As a leader, have you ever considered hiring an evangelism coach?

Strategy #2: EQUIPPING – Creating missionaries to be sent out.

  • How are you stimulating outreach prayers for friends, family and neighbors of your people?
  • How are you heating up evangelistic passion within your people?
  • Is evangelism training a part of your spiritual formation plan?
  • How do you identify and celebrate those with the gift of evangelism in your church?
  • Do you have an evangelism tool that is taught throughout the church?
  • What opportunities do you have for people to engage in entry level evangelism?
  • How are you teaching and mobilizing your people to love their neighborhoods and cities for Jesus?
  • What pre-evangelism events or opportunities are being created through your small groups?
  • What pre-evangelism events or opportunities are being created through your public worship services?
  • When was the last training event you offered to help people share their faith?

Strategy #3: SOWING – Creating connection opportunities for the unconnected.

  • How many people live in your “Jerusalem” that have no knowledge of your ministry?
  • How are you creating awareness of your church throughout the community?
  • What are the internet tools you can use to sow seeds throughout your community?
  • What are the promotional tools you can use to sow seeds throughout your community?
  • What are the media outlets you can use to sow seeds throughout your community?
  • What partnerships can you form that will enhance the church’s image throughout your community?
  • What community events or service projects can you join to live out the gospel?
  • How many pre-evangelism contacts are you planning to make this year throughout your community?
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to sowing your message throughout your community?
  • If people know about your ministry, what is the first thing that comes into their mind when it is mentioned?

Well, how did I do? What did I miss? How would you tweak the above questions?

“I pray that you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Philemon 6