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4 It Happened on a Sunday!

Two weeks back, our church service at Pine Castle United Methodist Church (PCUMC) started as it normally does, with praise and worship, followed by the offering. But ‘normal’ stopped there. An outsider might have been shocked by what happened next. We all got up and left the sanctuary, some 400 of us. We walked out the front door.

Let me back up and explain a few things. The situation with our economy is affecting everyone in one way or another. Our church is among those to be counted as struggling to stand our ground. So much of what has happened in this past year and a half would discourage most, and yet we continue to see the Lord at work in many different ways.

In February 2008 I showed this picture of our church in one of my first blogs.

PCUMC SanctuaryNew Worship Center (on the right) featuring a 1,250 seat sanctuary is nearing completion. Our original sanctuary is on left side of road.

And then in an April blog, I announced that on Easter Sunday we had moved into our new sanctuary.

PCUMC front

Pastor Blake in The Master's House

As you can imagine, this beautiful building has become a bit of a financial challenge for us during these hard times.

A lot of hope had been placed on selling the old sanctuary, but we all know what has happened to Florida’s real-estate business. A deal that had been in the works in early 2008; crumpled by the end of that summer. Everything seemed to dry up after that and looked hopeless.

And then all at once in June of this year, we had an offer from a group to “lease with an option to buy”. In July our church membership, through our Charge Conference, voted unanimously to accept the offer. By August the members of Greater Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church of Orlando were moved in and starting services. We are thrilled with our new neighbors. They have joined us in many of our activities, like our Pot Luck Night and our ladies functions.

So, when we walked out of our Sanctuary two Sundays ago, all 400 of us marched across the street and joined our brothers and sisters in their Celebration Service. It was a grand time.  A Baptist Church and a Methodist Church, one African American and one not so much, rejoiced in what the Lord had done. Hallelujah.

I forgot to take our camera but Kelly came to the rescue with his cell phone. He was able to capture this shot of the two Pastor’s wives standing in front of their husbands who are giving each other a brotherly hug.

Celebration Service


Our two pastors are becoming good friends and we all look forward to getting to know each other better. Both churches hope to find shared projects that will allow us to work together for the good of our community.



Are we “asleep in the bottom of the boat” like Jonah, and “is the church failing in our mandate“?

Missions Cost God His Son was the theme for our “Global Impact Celebration” missions’ conference held at Pine Castle United Methodist Church, where Kelly and I are members. (See photos at end of this posting.) Keynote Speaker J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, author, award-winning journalist, and ordained minister delivered a challenging and thought provoking message from Jonah 1: 1-5.


Rev. Grady spoke about Jonah being in a deep sleep in the bottom of a ship, when God sent a violent storm that threatened to break up that ship. He shared that the storm came, because of a disobedient servant (Jonah). Rev. Grady related this to; ‘We are in a storm today, not just because of the politicians & Wall Street, but also because the church is asleep in the bottom of the boat’.


He explained that the church has been given the Words of Life – life saving equipment – and we are failing in our mandate to take it out to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria & the Ends of the Earth. We are keeping it to ourselves. God wants our GPS systems to be reprogrammed so we can be heading in the right direction. If we obey, we will see our ship taken to the shore of Nineveh and we will take life to the people.


Rev. Grady’s serman ties in with a webinar Kelly listened to about Significant Facts & Trends in the North American Missions Movement (NAMM). The researcher was Michael Jaffarian, Senior Research Associate for Operation World. Here is just one area that he spoke about:


The NAMM is a $6 billion industry with 822 separate organizations;
Those 822 divide into 5 major kinds of mission agencies:
Founder  Based
Task Based
Mom & Pop
International Expansion of North American Ministries


  • There are about 43,000 N. American long-term missionaries, numbers growing, modestly. (Length of service-more than 4 years.)
  • There are about 8,000 N. American middle-term missionaries, numbers may be declining. (Length of service-less than 4 years.)
  • There are about 150,000 N. American short-term missionaries, numbers growing strongly. (length of service-two weeks up to one year.)


The best estimate of the number of American short term mission-trip participants: 1.5 million. (length: 2 weeks or shorter)

The North American churches are sending more than sixty times as many mission-trip participants overseas as long-term missionaries.

Imagine, if an average of $2,000 is spent to send those 1.5 million: that = $300 billion compared to $6 billion given toward long-term workers. Would we consider this a good use of our missions funds?



Strong growth in short-term missions & mission trips has not produced strong growth in long-term missions. (The number of long-term missionaries is not even keeping up with the rate of national growth.)


It was thought short-term trips might give participants a heart to give to the missions’ program. Research shows that those who are giving, are giving to others going on short-term trips. Again, long-term missions has not benefited from this program.

Mr Jaffarian ended on a positive note: “Trend is not destiny.”       The direction of God trumps the direction of trends.”

This webinar was sponsored by: The Mission Exchange

Photos below are from our Global Impact Celebration – Missions Conference:

Children in Parade of Flags Opening Ceremony Wed. Night

Children in Parade of Flags Opening Ceremony Wed. Night

Wed Night Children's Program

Wed Night Children's Program

Children in Tradional Dress Performing Their Songs

Children in Tradional Dress Performing Their Songs

Youth Skit: Missionary Sharing Her "LIGHT" with the Lost World

Youth Skit: Missionary Sharing Her "LIGHT" with the Lost World

Congregation Visting With Missionaries at Their Display Booths

Congregation Visting With Missionaries at Their Display Booths

Kelly & Connie in Traditional Dress with their display booth set up in the "Missionary Hall"

Kelly & Connie in Indonesian Traditional Dress with their display booth set up in the "Missionary Hall"


Am I serious? Is my church missing? No, I’m talking about a GREAT book that I just finished reading. It struck a chord with me because it deals with an issue that has crept into many of our beloved congregations today. It could be a growing sentiment in your church.

Is there a chance you are hearing similar comments from your congregation, from those who are older, 50’s and up, whose life is closely tied into church? Are they struggling with relinquishing control and influence to: “change” and the “younger generation”?

Who Stole My Church is authored by a talented writer and pastor of 47+ yrs, Gordon MacDonald. It’s a captivating narrative that places the reader right in the middle of these church people’s lives. Even though they are fictional characters, you could very well find each one of them sitting in your church, only their name would be different. I thought this comment from MacDonald was very revealing about what he was about to share: “The specific reason for this meeting came out of an organizational meltdown that our membership had experienced in a congregational business meeting the week before…”

Tipping Point

Did he say “organizational meltdown”? He was describing what one would call a “tipping point” for this fictional church. They were on the brink of change or no change. (If you are from the two older generations you have probably heard similar comments, or maybe uttered them yourself, under your breath of course.) What are some of the comments this pastor was hearing? “The music is too loud and I miss singing the old hymns.” “Can’t we sing those songs without having to stand all the time?” “Why don’t more young people join the choir?” And for some churches, “I miss the choir, now all we have is a ‘praise band’ with 5 people standing up front. We can’t sing harmony to these new songs, and I wish we would go back to using the organ.”

Reinventing Church

We’ve all witnessed these changes to some degree over the past 10-20 years and made adjustments (we thought). Some we’ve liked, others were more difficult. Changes like; not wearing a suit and tie, replacement of pews with individual chairs, abandoning the midweek prayer service, placing coffee kiosks in the church lobby, or bulletins replaced with overhead power-points. Here’s a big one, changing the name of the church. But honestly, are these the things that make a church, …a church?

4 Generations:

The book is not just for the builders and boomers. All generations can grasp a better understanding of each other as we; ‘find a way to move gracefully into the 21st century.’ If not, as MacDonald says: “Any church that has not turned its face toward the younger generation will simply cease to exist. We’re not talking decades—we’re talking just a few years.”

Anyway, I couldn’t put the book down. And last Sunday, we gave a copy of the book to our pastor and are recommending it to other pastors. We’ve seen give and take among the generations within our church, and that is very encouraging. Not that we’ve got it all figured out, but walking in love and submission is a major part of seeing God’s hand at work in His body.

If you’re wondering, here are the categories for the 4 generations: Builders (born before 1946), Boomers (1946-1964), Busters (1965-1983), & Bridgers (1984-2002) sometimes called Mosaics. Give the book a try, and happy reading. (Oh yeah, next time you see one of those bridgers at church with a tattoo and a couple of piercings in their eyebrow…give ’em a hug! They could be your somebody’s grandchild, yours maybe?)

A great follow up to this book is “One Church Four Generations” Understanding and reaching all ages in your church, by Gary L. McIntosh.

What Makes This Missions Conference Different?

It is being held at our Orlando home church, Pine Castle United Methodist Church (PCUMC) Feb 7-10. www.pinecastleumc.org Global Impact Celebration is sponsored by our church missions team, Acts 1:8. PCUMC supports 45 missionaries and that includes the McClellands.

  • Feb. 7th—Celebration Kick-off; A spectacular music-drama by the “K.I.D.S. Zone” wowed us all and set the stage for an inspirational field report from the Guest Speaker. Afterwards, Kelly and I stood by our display table in the Fellowship Hall as church members checked out each of the missionary displays and asked each of us questions about our ministries.
  • Feb 8th—Missions Comedy Family Night; A featured film and pizza night out under the stars with added surprises by the Youth Group.
  • Feb 10th—Special speaker Dr. Wes Griffin,

Kelly and I joined as active members at Pine Castle 2 years ago and are very blessed to have found such a great church. Knowing the importance of giving back to our church by being involved, we both accepted positions to serve: Kelly is on the Church Council and I am on the Finance Committee. Wednesday nights we participate in the small group Bible Studies.


A Couple of Highlights:

New Worship Center featuring a 1,250 seat sanctuary is nearing completion. In the photo above, our current sanctuary is the small building in the left hand corner of the picture. The new sanctuary is the almost completed building across the street.

Pine Castle Christian Academy for grades Pre-K to 12th grade, with over 700 students, includes an excellent sports dept, boasting a 2007 State Championship title for both the boys and girls Varsity basketball teams and 2-time championship titles for the girls softball team.

Family Life Center, gymnasium to serve both the school and the church

So, that is our introduction to you about our church and what is happening this week.

PCUMC front