EPC BUZZ

The following are statements from pastors from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) who are or have been engaged in the revitalization training and consulting ministry offered through the GO Center.

Dr. Rob Buchanan – EPC of Elkton, VA

This ministry has greatly helped to keep us on track as a leadership team, Session, and church. We have steadily seen our church grow with more and more people visiting and attending as we have made “people contact” of high priority, seeking to create “people flow” in order to reach lost people.  During the time I have known Ken and gleaned from his ministry our church has grown 20% and we’ve added a Fellowship Hall and more classroom space. More than the growth, this ministry has kept our focus on the Lord and His mission to make disciples of all nations, the harvest is truly ripe!

Rev. Glen Holman, Organizing Pastor Hope Community Church in Waynesboro, Virginia. 

We are a small church (average weekly worship attendance of 70).  While we are a mission church in the EPC, we began our journey together when a large group from First Presbyterian Church, Waynesboro (PCUSA) left after a protracted discernment process and the subsequent challenges we experienced in leaving the PC (USA).

In the early stages of our life together (spring of 2013), Dr. Ken Priddy consulted with us providing a very meaningful full-day seminar introducing some of the principles of the GO training (Building Your Church’s Great Commission Matrix).  This training provided significant thought-provoking material, which challenged us to look at our life cycle as a new mission church, as well as the need for every ministry to have the same strategic design . . . GO . . . MAKE . . . DISCIPLES.  He also introduced us to the Vision Team concept surrounded by prayer teams.  We initiated this process shortly after the presentation.  It has proved to be quite effective in helping us focus on God’s vision for us, moving from thinking only about what brought us together (shared theological commitments) to focusing on what God is calling us to be for Him and His Kingdom now (a congregation committed to being and making disciples)!

Since this March, I have been engaged in one of Dr. Priddy’s GO Clusters.  These bi-monthly GoToMeeting video conferences have provided more specifics to the initial training. One specific gleaning from our most recent conference was to learn how to minister THROUGH our congregation rather than just TO our congregation.  As a leadership team we are discerning how to move people to be agents of ministry rather than just recipients of ministry based upon this teaching.

The ministry Dr. Priddy is providing is a true blessing for me and our church as we continue to seek for ways to apply these ministry principles to our life together.  I pray more of our EPC congregations across the country will benefit from this excellent training.

Rev. Rob Westlund – Englewood Presbyterian Church, Rocky Mount NC

The Go Center of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic is providing Englewood Presbyterian with resources, clarity of vision, a platform for transformation, encouragement, and a connection to the presbytery.

  1. Resources – The GO1X training manual and Narrative have provided much needed insight into where Englewood Presbyterian is (RECLINE) and path/process to catalyze transformation. We particularly thrive on the “action points” of the manual.  Ken Priddy is also a resource to provide leadership and wisdom in the process and to share ideas and situations about the process.  We are hoping in the near future to get Ken to do a church wide seminar or at least a speaking event.
  2. Clarity of vision is provided by the GO1X’s weighty focus on the Great Commission. This highlights and drives a discernment process into the Biblical mandates, promises, and foundations rather than pithy vision statements, marketing schemes, and technology.
  3. Platform for Transformation – the GO1X has confirmed what we were already trying to do at Englewood Presbyterian, change the scorecard. Numbers have always been the churches go to for evaluation.   We are trying to get past numbers and evaluate our ministries in a narrative form describing what we have discerned God is doing and how effective we were/are in participating with Him.
  4. Encouragement/Individualization probably relates to the resource part of this piece. Having a one on one phone conversation with Ken Priddy has given us the handle to be the church God has called us to be; individualization.   The GO1X is not a large, medium, or small church program.  It is a process for every church to go through to discern what God is doing in, through, and with our church.
  5. Connection to the Presbytery – Coming out of the PCUSA we had separated ourselves from the presbytery and the larger church. The GO1X has given us a solid positive connection with the PMA.  It is a pleasure to speak and write about how the PMA is actively involved in congregation.   This piece alone is worth going through the process for those of us coming out of the PCUSA.

Final Comment – The GO1X is giving us a revitalization touchstone, but more than that God is engaging us face to face in this process and we are hearing His Spirit inviting us to be the church in our community to proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Rev. C. Powell Sykes, Teaching Elder – Westminster Presbyterian Church Burlington, NC

My training in church revitalization began with the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic even before I had completed my transfer from the PC(USA) in 2013.  Over the course of the year, I went through the GO Cluster book several times, in on-line meetings and at face-to-face events.  In 2014 Ken Priddy came to Westminster for a weekend of revitalization training for our Session and congregation.

This training has been very valuable at Westminster, as well as for me personally.  For a long time I have been saying that, over the past 80 years or so, Presbyterians have expected to grow through three main means: births, marriages, and transfer.  What I did not understand was the difference between outreach, which I was good at doing, and evangelism, which, outside the pulpit or the Sunday School room, I have not been good at doing.  Ken helped me to understand the difference.  He also helped our church not to look to big events as a means of evangelism, but rather, the long-term, hard work of building relationships and sharing our testimonies and lives with people outside the church.  One of the most helpful things Ken shared with us was the story of a Presbyterian Ruling Elder who told him that their church was not an “entry level” church.  Wow.  Jesus, help us to become an entry level church, and to carry the gospel to people where they are, not simply expect them to come to us.

One wonderful change that has happened in the past few months has been the closing down of a 15 year old teen Bible Study in the church, which met in the homes of the kids, and moving it to the neighborhood McDonald’s.  All of the teens still come, but now the parents do too.  And we have raised our profile in the neighborhood; the folks from McDonald’s love us, and, while it’s hard to tell exactly what the other customers think, they know we’re there, and they listen to what is being said.

Our Vision Team was set up in May.  We gather to discuss other means of evangelism, but also to pray and seek God’s guidance.  Our Sunday evening service has been converted to a time mainly for prayer and testimony as well.  We are learning to evangelize our neighborhood and our community for Jesus!

Rev. Steven J. Mattis Sr. Pastor, Myrtle Grove EPC – Wilmington, NC

I serve a church with approx. 400 in worship each week.

  • I have studied with Dr. Ken Priddy through the online GO Cluster Consultation over the past year.
  • Ken also joined us for a weekend GO workshop at our church for our leaders and members.
  • Ken has preached to our congregation.

I have benefited as a pastor by the in depth training and biblical study through the On-line Go Cluster.  This was the beginning of refreshing and resetting my own understanding of the priority of the Great Commission.  Subsequently, our leadership has adopted a more biblical “mission and vision” for our congregation.  We realized that we did not need another “creative mission or vision” but rather needed to embrace God’s mission and vision for his world through his church.

Our elders continue to work through Ken’s material and are seeking to bring our church into better alignment with “Great Commission” principles and practices.  We are evaluating every ministry in light of these principles.  We are beginning to see real vitality in and through our congregation.

Recently we began to realize that God has already given us many ways of reaching out to our community.  We have purposefully reorganized our summer ministry called “Power Camp” (www.MGPowerCamp.org) to effectively serve and reach our community.  We have given many hundreds of dollars of scholarships to families in our community and also distributed them through the public school system.  This summer we were able to lead over 175 primary and middle school children to receive Christ as Savior and Lord and to begin the discipleship ministry to them and their families.  We served and influenced over 1000 children and their families through Power Camp 2014.  The momentum is building and the community is taking note of our service to them.

We highly recommend Dr. Ken Priddy’s material, consultations and conferences. I look forward to working with him in the future and gaining from his vast experience.

Dr. Bryan A. Slater – Grace EPC, Hampstead, NC

I have been to the High Impact (now G.O.1.X) seminar; the seminar for church planters with Dave DeVries, and I have been mentored by Tom Harcus. I have received all of these things in the last 3 years through Ken’s leadership.

These training times have been extremely helpful to me.  I never planned to become a church planter; but that is where the Lord placed me in this season.  The content of the seminars has rearranged my understanding of the priorities of a church planter, and has ingrained in me a philosophy of ministry which I have found to be life giving and effective.  The most helpful thing to me was being mentored by an experienced church planter.  Each time we would get together, he would ask about things, and then push me to try something else.  I would listen and seek to implement because I knew I would meet with him again in a few weeks.  We formed a friendship which was excellent, but Tom’s modeling and challenges are what the Lord used to get Grace EPC off the ground and vibrant right now.  I love engaging others in the community with the love of Christ and discerning ways to impact the community around us.  As I trained new elders, I have used Ken’s material, because I want the DNA of Grace to be an inclining church, who mentors young Christians, and who impacts the whole community.  People at Grace know that we are called to bless others and they are starting to do this on their own, without my prodding them.  This is the most fun I have had in church ministry!

Dr. James Banks – Peace Church, Durham, NC

The training we received through individual consultation and GO Cluster participation was absolutely invaluable for our church.  Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, this provided specific, detailed attention necessary for assessing the Spirit’s unique work here.  Peace is attempting a “prayer based model” for church growth, which is not part of a standard “church growth” paradigm.  Ken and Tom did not “despise the day of small things;” both recognized that what God is doing here is impacting lives not only in Durham and nationally but in many countries (I have been blessed with a writing ministry in the area of prayer—especially prayer for families with prodigals—and the church embraces this ministry as their own).  The outstanding consultation and insight provided enabled us to investigate the relationship between prayer and evangelism in practical ways that have helped us reach deeper into our community.  Further encouragement in a missional outlook through regular training at Presbytery meetings has also been indispensable (a recent presentation of “Christianity Explored” was very well received, and we will be launching our first outreach effort with it this Fall).  Peace is now exhibiting positive numerical growth, financial stability, and fresh vitality and enthusiasm for a true Kingdom ministry.

Rev. Anthony Rodriguez – Valley Hope Church, Black Mountain, NC

The training that I have received from Ken Priddy and the GO Center has been invaluable. I’m a young pastor with plenty of people that have a heart to be on mission with Jesus, but that’s all we really knew. Ken was able to put flesh and bones to what we were looking for and point us in the right direction. There are times that we’re trying to make decisions about where we’re going that I still hear Ken’s voice ringing in my ears. Whether the training has been a single day or over the course of months like with GO Clusters, I’ve always found a rich resource in what was on offer. The GO Center is both challenging and encouraging, a perfect balance to strike as Jesus’ Church is spurred on to take on His mission. This isn’t for big churches or wealthy churches. This is simply for churches. I love that this resource is planted in the EPC.