Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Details & Registration Information for “Church Involvement Conference” January 20 & 21, 2017

cicpicoflogoDetails:   What is your schedule (and other matters) for the

“Church Involvement Conference?”

Friday afternoon, January 20, 2017, 2 to 4 pm “Nuts & Bolts” with Travis Irwin sharing some of the things that have been fruitful (100% involvement) at Athens Church of Christ: “Getting Connected” and “Down on the Farm.”   Preview of 2017 focus.

Friday evening, January 20, 2017, 6:00 to 6:30 Check In – 6:30 to 8:15 pm Supper, Dr. Carlus Gupton will speak once during our supper time together on the topic of “The Spirituality of Involvement: Challenging the Norm of Non-Discipleship” followed by ‘Break Out Sessions.’   We will break at 8:15 for the evening.  Folks are welcome to stay and visit.

Saturday morning, January 21, 2017, 8:00 to 11:15 am   Breakfast for everyone at 8:00 and Dr. Gupton will continue his thoughts in two more presentations this morning followed by two more ‘Break Out Sessions.’

Saturday 11:15 am Lunch Break followed by “Shop Talk” wherein those who wish to stay can share and hear ideas for Connection and Involvement Ministries. This sharing time will last at least an hour and those who need to leave can do so at their discretion.   Most congregations are always searching for ideas.   This will be a great opportunity to learn what other churches are doing to get members involved and to help their church grow.

Why did you choose Dr. Gupton?

Dr. Gupton, in our estimation is probably one of the most qualified men in the brotherhood to address Connection and Involvement Ministers. For a full biography on him you can go to his website:   http://www.lifeandleadership.com/ His thoughts will be uplifting but also challenging.

What about the motels in Athens?

There are 3 high quality motels at Exit 49 on I-75 (I-75 runs between Knoxville and Chattanooga north and south). Those motels are:

The Comfort Inn   423 252 8030

The Hampton Inn   423 745 2345

Holiday Inn   423 649 0003

I would urge you to go ahead and make your reservations soon; these motels are usually full because we are part of a tourist area even during the winter.

What about the meals?

You will be furnished three meals while you are here: Supper Friday evening and Breakfast and Lunch on Saturday.

What about CDs?

Dr. Gupton has given us permission to record his messages and give them to all who attend the conference.   We have paid staff who will duplicate and mail these to you.

What is the cost?

Every sponsoring church (of events) struggles with whether to charge for such events.   We believe this event is worthy of your travel, effort and expense.   We will provide the CDs of Dr. Gupton’s speeches, any related materials, all 3 meals and of course, excess to Dr. Gupton for $50 per attender.

What about registration?

We are requesting registration and payment at least a month before the actual event (at latest, please register by January 10, 2017).   You can call the church office at 423 745 0554.   Donna Whitted is our administrative assistant and Mark Littleton is our pulpit minister.  If the office is closed, please leave your name and number.

We want the first CIC to be fruitful and well attended. Your pre-registration will help us in this quest.   If you have any questions about this arrangement, you can call the church office and talk to me (Travis Irwin, 423 745 0554).

Why did you pick the dates of January 20 & 21, 2017?   Many may wonder why we are having this event in the dead of winter.   There are two answers. First, when we were planning the 2013 EQ conference we wanted to avoid other church related events (lectureships) and school breaks, etc. (it appears that our brotherhood has something going on throughout the year).   It is nearly impossible to avoid other events, and we agreed to try a January date. The risk is the weather.   We do not have an alternative date if the weather is poor. We will reimburse any fees if the event is cancelled.   The other reason we went with a January date is because the weather is cold yet good during January in East Tennessee.   If the Lord wills, the event will take place.

What if I have other questions or concerns?   If you have any other questions please feel free to contact Involvement Minister Travis Irwin at the church office at 423 745 0554 or on his personal phone (text or phone call) at 423 920 3060 or by email at travisirwin@att.net

Registration for the 2017 “Church Involvement Conference”

  1. Which church do you represent?
  2. How did you hear about C.I.C.?
  3. How many are in your party?   Please give a full name for each person who is attending with you and his/her position/role in the church.
  4. Who is your contact person?   Please give full name and contact information.
  5.  As soon as we receive your registration fee, you will be fully registered and we will confirm your registration. Is your fee enclosed?   Make checks out to “Athens church of Christ” put “CIC” in the memo.   Thank you.
  6. Will you be attending all the Friday afternoon and evening sessions and all the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions?  If you are not attending all the sessions, which sessions will you be attending?
  7. If you have questions, you can call the church office at 423 745 0554 or email us at donnawhitted@ymail.com, travisirwin@att.net, mhlittleton@gmail.com or timothygunnells@amridgeuniversity.edu   Thank you.   We are looking forward to your being with us.

Keeping Members From Going Out the Back Door

door1“Closing the Back Door: Keeping the Members You Have”

Most church leaders and ministers recognize that there is a retention problem in our congregations.   It appears we baptize 20 to 40 people a year and yet that many (if not more) disappear or leave the church (I call this members going out the back door of the church).   There are 3 reasons why people leave the church: (1) they fall away, (2) they move away or (3) they pass away. We have some control on #1 and no control over reasons #2 and #3.

What May We Do About Those Who Fall Away?

I think there are three basic reasons why we have this retention problem in some churches and why people “fall away.”   We need to fix the problem.

First, in some congregations we promote baptisms to the neglect of spiritual growth.   We are in a hurry to baptize people (nothing wrong with that) and then we ‘forget’ or neglect those we’ve baptized because we’ve got to get to the next person that we wish to baptize into Christ.     Simply put, we are all about teaching and baptizing folks and then we forget/neglect the ones we’ve taught and baptized.     Some churches have poor retention because they have no plans to teach and mature new Christians.   Many of these novices grow tired of coming to church and not having the personal attention they need to grow and they slip out the back door.

Second, there is confusion over the role of preachers and elders.    In some sense, both evangelists and pastors are to equip the saints for service (cf. Eph.4:11-16). However (in many congregations) we expect the located evangelist to fulfill His God-given roles of preaching, teaching and evangelizing the lost PLUS many congregations expect the preacher to fulfill the role of a Pastor (feed the [saved] flock, protect the flock, discipline the flock, comfort the flock, go after sheep that have strayed, equip saints for service, visit every member, keep up with every member, get every member involved in ministry, mentor every member, do all the funerals and weddings, and basically be everywhere, etc.). What happens in many cases is the preacher does not have the energy or time do both: he simply cannot fulfill his biblical calling well and he cannot do the work of the elders/pastors well.   The result:   more members ‘go out the back door.’   However, when an evangelist fulfills his primary biblical roles and elders/pastors fulfill their God-given primary roles, the back door gets shut and few people can walk out the back door.   At the very least, those attempting to go out the back door are intercepted.

A third problem is that many new members aren’t befriended by other members of the church—and they fall away (go out the back door).   Brother Fravil Yeakley (church growth expert for the churches of Christ) many years ago told us that new members must make at least six new friends immediately upon becoming members.   If they don’t, they will fall away within six months.   I’ve seen that prediction come true too many times.   Every growing church needs to have some ministry or means of new members being befriended.   It may be through worship assemblies, Bible classes, small groups or ministries.   Whatever that means is, it must be an intentional.

The point?   We all bear a responsibility to increase the retention rate and close the back door.   Please share any suggestions you may have. Trav

door1

 

Why Aren’t Some Members Involved?

getinvolved_1000Why Aren’t Some Members Involved?

Why aren’t all of your church members involved in some sort of ministry in your church?   Is it laziness or ignorance?   Or is it something else?

They’ve never been asked.   Some members have never been approached and been asked to get involved.   Whose fault is that?   I know members shouldn’t want to be asked, but there are members who will not get involved until they are personally approached and asked.     We have to decide to either ask or continue to watch these folks stand idle on the side lines.

Some members are not equipped.   Some folks are not involved because no one has taken an interest in equipping them to serve.   Some folks need some guidance and unless they get it, they will not serve.

Some folks are worldly.   The third soil of the Parable of the Soils was the thorny ground.   This soil represents folks who are too busy with worldly pursuits and concerns to have time to serve and bear fruit.   This is the toughest member to deal with because he/she has an excuse for every request or offer you have for him/her.   Bottom line: they ain’t got time for the Lord’s cause.   However, in my personal experience with these folks, I simply refuse to take “No” for an answer.

Some of the church’s ministries are not challenging enough. Let’s face it: some of the ministries in the church aren’t very challenging or rewarding.   Many of our ministries in the church are maintenance ministries and some members (especially millennials–those born in the 80’s and 90’s) are not interested.   It’s not that they think such ministries are beneath them; they are interested in helping folks in very practical ways.   The solution is to allow these people to come up with their ideas and then empower them. People want to make significant contributions to others and they want to experience spiritual growth as they serve.  Such requires that our ministries are fresh and challenging.

Some folks have been overworked and been unappreciated.   It’s kind of like, “once a Bible teacher, always a Bible teacher.” There are folks who have served for years and have never had a break and in many cases these folks have never been shown any public appreciation or been honored.   Most people do not serve to receive recognition or honor.   However, we all need to be appreciated and honored (honor to whom honor is due is a Biblical concept).   And, we all need a break from time to time.

Some folks have had bad experiences. Something went wrong, someone got upset, someone took control away, someone criticized—something went wrong. Some volunteers will “bail out” quickly when things get rocky in a ministry and may never return to volunteer for a ministry.

As a leader do what you can to prevent bad things from happening and making the serving environment one that is conducive to getting and keeping good volunteers.

Travis Irwin

Involvement Minister

Athens, TN

 

“Church Involvement Conference”

cicpicoflogo      

“The Spirituality of Involvement: Challenging the Norm of Non-                  Discipleship.”

          Dr. Carlus Gupton

For involvement/connection ministers, church leaders & members

January 20-21, 2017

Athens Church of Christ in Athens, TN

Friday, January 20 – 2:00 to 4:00 “Nuts & Bolts” Travis Irwin

Involvement campaigns that have worked well at Athens Church of Christ & 100% involvement

6:30 – Dinner & Dessert (check in time is 6:00 to 6:30)

7:00 – Keynote: Dr. Carlus Gupton

7:40 to 8:15 – Breakout Groups

8:15 – Dismissal for the evening

Saturday, January 21 – 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

8:00 am. – Breakfast at the building

8:00 to 8:45 am. Keynote – Dr. Carlus Gupton

9:00 to 9:45 am. – Breakout Groups

10:00 am. Keynote – Dr. Carlus Gupton

10:45 am – Breakout Groups

11:30 to 12:45 pm. – Lunch at the building

1:00 to 2:00 pm. – “Shop Talk” a period of sharing involvement ideas with each other

2:00 pm. – Dismissal. Any who wish to stay to discuss involvement ministry are welcome to do so.

To register call Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 3 pm EST 423 745 0554.

Please register no later than January 10, 2017.   Registration is required.

Fee:  $50 per participant.   This fee includes 3 meals, CD’s of all of Dr. Gupton’s lectures and any materials available.    The best motels on Exit 49 of I-75 in Athens:

Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express  (register promptly: these motels are filled up year round)

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You & The Pulpit Minister

pulpit4If you are an involvement minister (or any type of minister other than a pulpit minister) your best support should come from the person in the pulpit.   What do I mean by that?

In spite of all that we teach (in churches of Christ) about the preacher not being the pastor and the preacher not being “the” leader of the church, he welds great influence. He has great influence because he does in fact ‘pastor’ the flock by teaching, and preaching, he visits the sick, buries the dead, performs weddings, attends all the church functions, does counseling, he usually knows everyone by name, and generally speaking, he is ‘everywhere.’   And, he also commands the pulpit. He, in spite of what we say about preachers not being pastors, is (in most cases) the spokesman for the local church.   He represents the leadership at large and what he says really means something.   When he says it, it’s serious business. No pun intended, but when he says it, “it’s gospel.”  When you or I make a two minute announcement, it doesn’t have the same effect.

How does this relate to other ministers in the local church?   You, as a youth minister, senior minister, college minister, involvement minister or whatever kind of minister, if you don’t get his support in and out of the pulpit, you have a hard row to hoe or worse.

When you have his support, life is good and your ministry is blessed.

Usually (with or without the pulpit minister’s support) you will have to write articles for the church bulletin, create attractive power point slides, use the church mail, use the church phone tree, talk to individuals, make phone calls, use facebook, use the church group email and hey, you may even get to make a 2 minute announcement from the pulpit, but nothing is as powerful as the pulpit minister saying something about you, your ministry, what you’re trying to accomplish or encouraging people to support your ministry.   Nothing!  I am NOT saying that your ministry is totally dependent upon the man in the pulpit.   I AM saying that he can be your best ally and your ministry will benefit greatly.

But there is something even more important that the pulpit man can do: he can preach lessons that support and teach what needs to be taught.   Here’s an example:   two years ago our 2014 congregation focus was ‘Down on the Farm’ Jesus’ Plentiful Harvest.   I asked our preacher to preach a full year on this theme. And, he did!   He spoke on the four ways we bear fruit for the Lord.   We had banners and projects for the members to do as a way of bearing fruit. He totally supported this by his preaching and announcements. It was wonderful and the response of the congregation was 100% involvement.   I’ve done other campaigns without such support and things went did ok but we would have done better if we had used the pulpit in a better manner.

If you are an involvement minister your best ally is the guy in the pulpit.   Ask him to make short announcements for you about ministry.   Ask him to preach sermon series on relevant topics to your ministry.   Be bold and ask him to preach for a full year on a theme that will motivate your members to move from the pew to the place of service.   Avoid being presumptuous and overbearing.

And you must also support him.   As much as we may deny it, you are second fiddle.  Some of us in such positions get a little jealous of the pulpit.  You need to realize that your preacher did not design it this way.   It’s just a fact of your church’s life.   Accept your position gladly and prayerfully. In some sense, you are a John the Baptist. You are like the folks that Paul mentions in Colossians 4 who supported his evangelistic work.   He could not do what he did without them.  You are part of a team that will only succeed when unity, harmony and support are mutual goals. There is no room for jealousy or competition in the Lord’s church. There is however, lots of room for cooperation and submission and verbal/written support. This is the Christian thing to do for both you and the pulpit minister.

Use every tool at your disposal to promote your ministry and kindly ask your preacher for his support in and out of the pulpit.   Any preacher worth his salt will do this—because he is first and foremost a servant, second he is spiritual and third, he is concerned about the overall growth and welfare of the church.

Note:  I love and appreciate pulpit ministers for at least two reasons:  my dad was a pulpit minister and second, I was a located full time pulpit minister for over 30 years.  I worked with and supported our involvement minister and several youth ministers during those years.  I have found that pulpit ministers consider themselves as stewards of their ministry and the pulpit.  They are almost always more interested in the welfare of the local church than getting their way.  I also know that preachers are, in some very real sense, limited in how much time they have to present lessons and make announcements.   As associate ministers we must keep this in mind when we ask them to verbally promote our ministry from the pulpit.   My good friend Jerrie Barber states that good relationships are what is needed in churches for things to go well.  I believe Church staff must have a good working relationship and that is priceless.   In fact, they should be friends as well.

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

Your Main Purpose as a Leader

What is YourLeader Purpose as a Leader?

Paul told the Hebrew and Thessalonian Christians to submit to their leaders.  The question for you (as a leader) is this, “Are you as a leader worthy of such submission?”

Tons of books have been written about leadership with definitions, leadership styles and suggestions on how to be an effective leader.   Leadership is found in families, churches, businesses, communities and a hundred other places.

But what about your leadership in the church?   I think you have two main responsibilities as a leader:   (1)   to provide vision [direction] and (2) development.

Whether you are an elder, deacon, pulpit minister, ministry leader, Bible class teacher or some other type of leader in the church, you are to cast some sort of vision.   The vision may be specifically about your ministry, your preaching, your nurturing of the church, your plans for numerical church growth or something relevant with what you do as a leader.   Most leaders in the church have no goals for themselves much less the membership with which they work.   People thus do not know where they are going and what to expect.    What you have, without vision, is a totally ‘maintenance’ church and folks don’t get excited about maintenance and the church does not grow no matter how good you maintain things.

The second thing you should be doing is developing the people around you.  You should be developing future leaders, you should be developing the gifts of your members, you should be developing your ministry, you should be developing yourself, etc.  Such development assists in fulfilling the vision you have cast. Once again, we are not known for developing anything.   We wonder why we don’t have any folks to replace us (and others) when we resign or die.  We haven’t developed any one.   We wonder why we don’t move to higher levels of service in the church; we have not developed ourselves or others to have a higher more effective level of living and serving.

Many church leaders view their main purpose as maintaining what has been entrusted to them.  There are two problems with such reasoning:  (1)   it is NOT biblical and (2) the church does not grow spiritually or numerically with such thinking.

May I assist you learning how to create vision for your church and how to develop the folks around you?   Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

Enabling or Empowering? Which Are You Doing?

(it may appear this article is about drug addiction, but it is not)empowerment1

Anyone who has ministered to addicts knows the term “enabling.”   To enable an addict is to help (enable) him/her continue in his/her addictive behavior.   How?  By making excuses for his/her addiction, taking on his/her responsibilities, hiding his/her addiction, or denying that there is a problem.  Enabling prevents an addict from experiencing the full consequences of his/her addictive behavior.   One who enables (an enabler) contributes to the delinquency and inappropriate behavior of an addict.   However, an enabler may also contribute to, allow and even promote inappropriate behavior in others such as children, employees, spouses, friends, relatives—and, listen to this one:  brethren in the church.   Hold that thought; I will return to it.

On the other hand, those who work with addicts can also empower them so they can overcome their addictions.   What does this require?   First of all, it requires that an addict admit his/her addiction as a detrimental thing.   He/she must also admit that they have a problem over which they have no power; he/she cannot change things without some outside support (in Celebrate Recovery, this is Jesus Christ, in Alcoholics Anonymous, this would be a higher power).   An addict cannot be helped until these two admissions are made.   It is only then, that an addict can be empowered to deal with his/her problem.  He/she then turns to the One (Christ) who can transform him/her and thus empower him/her to new purposeful whole living (John 10:10).

What’s the point?   What does this have to do with church involvement?    Let’s get really honest for a moment.   Speaking from experience, at times I’ve seen enabling behavior in the church.   Yes, it is sometimes seen when we allow sin to go unchecked in the church.   However, there is another kind of enabling that I’ve seen:  instead of discipling members of the church (making them disciples), we’ve enabled them to sit in their pews and do little more.   Now, that’s not true of all members of the church or all churches.   However, it’s a rather large number that we’ve allowed by our silence and our lack of equipping them for service.    We’ve enabled them to remain inactive.

There is an alternative: empowerment.    When God designed His church, He designed her with empowerment in mind.    The Lord has gifted (empowered) us with spiritual gifts and other blessings that empower us (when recognized and exercised) to serve Him in great ways.   We are His workmanship (handiwork, creation) to do good works (Eph.2:10).

When we were delivered from the addiction of sin, He re-created us to do good works; He empowered us.   Who are we to stand in the way of God’s design (and purpose) [empowerment] by replacing it with enabling brethren to be something less?

As individual members of the bride of Christ, we can either be enabled or empowered. As church leaders, we can either enable the brethren to be much less than the Lord designed them to be or we can empower them by following what we sometimes call the Christian disciplines, one of which is ministry.    Ephesians 4:11 says that different ones in church leadership exist in the church to ‘equip’ the saints for ministry (among other things).  Equipping, in my mind, is (at least) a means of empowering church members.   Equipping is more than assembling for worship and sitting in a Bible class.   Much more.

Church leaders, are you enabling your members or are you empowering them?   My ministry exists to assist church leaders in learning how to empower those under their care for service.    I would love the opportunity to work with you in such an endeavor.

Following are examples of empowerment:

  1.  Assisting members in discovering, developing (training/equipping) and deploying (exercising) their gifts.
  2.  Giving permission to serve.  In the truest sense, none of us needs permission.   Some of us want permission and when we have it, we then proceed to serve with greater confidence.   In other cases, members need permission for ministry by those in leadership because of the special nature of a ministry.
  3.  Provide resources:  this could be money, it could be equipment, this could be other people to assist, this could be facilities, etc.
  4.  Words of affirmation and belief
  5.  Prayer!
  6.  Encouraging creativity.  Some churches discourage creativity and it shows.  When Christians are not allowed to exercise their gifts and passions fully, then God’s designed and purpose for that person is thwarted and I believe, the local church is adversely affected in some manner.
  7.  Words of appreciation
  8.  Biblical submission (cf. Eph.5:21); a recognition and appreciation of others’ gifts and an attitude of total cooperation with them in making the local church what the Lord wants her to be.
  9.  In some cases, ‘position’ such as an elder, deacon, etc.  Such positions grant to folks the authority (empowerment) to get things done.   However, every Christian holds the position of servant which empowers him/her to serve the Lord.   What greater position is there?
  10.   What would you suggest as means to empower someone in the church?

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

423 920 3060

travisirwin@att.net

 

Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

MS5Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

Over the past fifty years we have learned the importance of mission and vision statements for businesses, factories, schools and other organizations.   ebay, Coke, Disney, Starback, Apple and other big name companies all have mission statements.  It’s not unusual to see an organization’s mission statement on its produce or an ad.   Such folks want the public to know just how serious they are about their product or service.  Hospitals and doctors proudly display their mission statements.

The Lord’s church is about 50 years behind in doing this even though I am seeing more and more churches have mission statements.  Individual Christians rarely if ever consider such a thing.   To most of us it sounds unscriptural or too corporate or totally useless.   However, I want to challenge such thinking.

There is an old adage that still applies to the church and individual Christians:

Aim at nothing and you will hit it with amazing accuracy.   If we don’t have any life goals or goals as a congregation, we will probably accomplish something by sheer accident.   If we have goals, we will accomplish much more of what the Lord wants us to accomplish for His glory.

If not, we may fail in accomplishing God’s will for our individual lives.

Why Do I Need to Do This?

Because Jesus had personal mission statements such as Luke 19:10; John 10:10 and Matthew 20:28.   Jesus lived a hectic life but He never forgot why He was here.   By the way, He accomplished every goal He came to fulfill.

Apostles had mission statements. Paul knew that he was sent to the Gentiles and Peter knew he was sent to the Jews to preach the gospel.   Paul also said, “for me to live is Christ” and Peter said, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”

The Church has been given a mission statement – We have been told to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).   The church is the means by which the world will come to know of God’s redeeming grace and wisdom (Ephesians 3:9-11). By the way, most of the time it appears that the church has forgotten these mission statements.   Why is that, I wonder.

A personal mission statement will keep you focused.   We are pulled into dozens of different directions every day.   Our lives are full of distractions.   A personal mission statement, when written and heeded will keep us focused on God’s purpose for our lives.

A personal mission statement will give you a strong personal purpose for living. Most Christians have no clue about God’s specific purpose for their lives. They don’t know anything about their spiritual gifts, passions and other blessings with which God has endowed them.   Most people, including most Christians, just go through life with no particular goals in mind.   We are all here for His purpose.

A personal mission statement will help you re-evaluate from time to time.   A mission statement is like a North Star for serious life travelers.   For us unorganized folks it helps us get back to where we need to be in life.

You are more likely to accomplish what the Lord wants you to accomplish. I am one of the few naïve people that believes that every Christian has a general purpose for living (to glorify the Lord) and to serve Him (and mankind) in some specific way (based upon how God has designed him/her specifically).   Life is fuller and richer when it is lived in this manner.

How Do I Go About Coming Up with a Personal Mission Statement?

You will need to discover your spiritual gifts, your passions, your personality trait, your life skills, education and life experiences and possibly some other helpful things about yourself.   This priceless information will help you form your personal mission statement.   Below is an example of how this is done:

I, John Doe, wish to honor and glorify my Creator (the general reason I am alive) by feeding (an example of a thing passion: cooking) the homeless (an example of a people passion) in my spare time using my gift of compassion (an example of a spiritual gift). I will befriend them and tell them of the saving grace of Jesus (my specific goals or purpose). My greatest hope is that they will obey the gospel and live a fuller life and have eternal life (my vision).

Travis Irwin

travisirwin@att.net

Questions about the “Church Involvement Conference”

Q2  Questions & Answers about the 

“Church Involvement Conference”

(formerly the Equip Conference) 

           January 20 & 21, 2017

Why did you change the name of the conference?

There are several other Christian groups that are using “Equip Conference” and so to avoid any confusion we just changed our name.  We had been using the wording “Equip Conference” since 2010.   This (change) has provided us with an opportunity to be more specific in our wording.   We are not in competition with our brethren who use the terms “Equip Conference” and we wish them well.

What is your schedule for this conference?

The general schedule is as follows:

Friday afternoon, 2 to 4 pm “Nuts & Bolts” with Travis Irwin sharing some of the things that have been fruitful at Athens Church of Christ: “Getting Connected” and “Down on the Farm.”

Friday evening, 6:30 to 8:15 pm Dr. Carlus Gupton will speak once during our supper time together on the topic of “The Spirituality of Involvement: Challenging the Norm of Non-Discipleship” followed by ‘Break Out Sessions.’

Saturday morning, 8:00 to 11:15 am   Breakfast for everyone at 8:00 and Dr. Gupton will continue his thoughts in two more presentations this morning followed by two more ‘Break Out Sessions.’

Saturday 11:15 am Lunch Break followed by “Shop Talk” wherein those who wish to stay can share and hear ideas for Connection and Involvement Ministries. This sharing time will last at least an hour and those who need to leave can do so at their discretion.

Why did you choose Dr. Gupton?

Dr. Gupton, in our estimation is probably one of the most qualified men in the brotherhood to address Connection and Involvement Ministers. For a full biography on him you can go to his website:   http://www.lifeandleadership.com/

His thoughts will be uplifting but also challenging.

What about the motels in Athens?

There are 3 high quality motels at Exit 49 on I-75 (I-75 runs between Knoxville and Chattanooga north and south). Those motels are:

The Comfort Inn   423 252 8030

The Hampton Inn   423 745 2345

Holiday Inn   423 649 0003

I would urge you to go ahead and make your reservations soon; these motels are usually full because we are part of a tourist area even during the winter.

What about the meals?

You will be furnished three meals while you are here: Supper Friday evening and Breakfast and Lunch on Saturday.

What about CDs?

Dr. Gupton has given us permission to record his messages and give them to all who attend the conference.   We have paid staff who will duplicate and mail these to you.

What is the cost?

Every sponsoring church (of events) struggles with whether to charge for such events.   We believe this event is worthy of your travel, effort and expense.   We will provide the CDs of Dr. Gupton’s speeches, any related materials, all 3 meals and of course, excess to Dr. Gupton for $50 per attender.

What about registration?

We are requesting registration and payment at least a month before the actual event (at latest, please register by December 20, 2016).   You can call the church office at 423 745 0554.   Donna Whitted is our administrative assistant and Mark Littleton is our pulpit minister.  If the office is closed, please leave your name and number.

We want the first CIC to be fruitful and well attended. Your pre-registration will help us in this quest.   If you have any questions about this arrangement, you can call the church office and talk to me (Travis Irwin, 423 745 0554).

Why did you pick the dates of January 20 & 21, 2017?   Many may wonder why we are having this event in the dead of winter.   There are two answers. First, when we were planning the 2013 EQ conference we wanted to avoid other church related events (lectureships) and school breaks, etc. (it appears that our brotherhood has something going on throughout the year).   It is nearly impossible to avoid other events, and we agreed to try a January date. The risk is the weather.   We do not have an alternative date if the weather is poor. We will reimburse any fees if the event is cancelled.   The other reason we went with a January date is because the weather is cold yet good during January in East Tennessee.   If the Lord wills, the event will take place.

What if I have other questions or concerns?   If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact Travis Irwin at the church office at 423 745 0554 or on his personal phone (text or phone call) at 423 920 3060 or by email at travisirwin@att.net

 

Diamonds Right in Front of Us

Diamonds Right in Front of Us

In 1843, a man was born who was to have a profound effect upon the lives of millions of people. He name was Russell Herman Conwell. He became a lawyer, then a newspaper editor, and finally a minister. In his efforts to raise money to begin what is today Temple University, Dr. Conwell gave over 6,000 lectures and in each one of them, he told a story called “Acres of Diamonds.” It was a true story that had affected him very deeply, and it had the same effect on his audiences. The money he needed to build the college came pouring in.

The story was the account of an African farmer who had heard tales about other farmers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines.  These tales so excited the farmer that he could hardly wait to sell his farm and go prospecting for diamonds himself. So he sold the farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the African continent, searching unsuccessfully for the gleaming gems that brought such high prices on the markets of the world. Finally, the story goes, worn-out and in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or farm, in this case, the man who bought the farm happened to be crossing the small stream on the property. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream’s bottom. He bent down, picked up the stone – it was a good-sized stone – and, admiring it, later put it on his fireplace mantle, as an interesting curiosity.

Several weeks later, a visitor to his home picked up the stone, looked closely at it, hefted it in his hand – and nearly fainted. He asked the farmer if he knew what he had found. When the farmer said no, that he had thought it was a piece of crystal, the visitor told him he had fund one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the man that his creek was full of such stones – not as large, perhaps as the one on the mantel, but they were sprinkled generously throughout the creek bottom.

Needless to say, the farm the first farmer had sold so that he might find a diamond mine turned out to be the most productive diamond mine on the entire African continent. The first farmer had owned, free and clear, acres of diamonds, but he had sold them for practically nothing in order to look for them elsewhere.

The moral is clear: If only the first farmer had taken the time to study and prepare himself – to learn what diamonds look like in their rough state – and since he had already owned a piece of the African continent, to thoroughly explore the property he had before looking elsewhere, all of his wildest dreams would have come true.

The fact is, each of us is, at this moment, standing in the middle of his or her own acre of diamonds in our local congregations. If only we will have the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore our churches, we can find the riches that God has placed among us.  With some prayer, study and close examination, we will discover the diamonds among us.   Many members are just diamonds in the rough; they need to be discovered, developed and put to work.

This is what I do best: help churches and church leaders discover God’s diamonds.  God doesn’t make junk.  The church is full of potential that has to be discovered.     Please contact me so I train you to discover God’s riches among you.

Travis Irwin

423 920 3060

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