WAITING FOR THE PHONE CALL from Hospice of Rutherford County. They will do an interview with us soon and take over my care. Dr. Murphy said we can still contact our Vanderbilt team but for the most part Hospice do much of the same as my V medical team. This shift is new to me, but necessary. I’ve worked with Hospice many times when they worked with church members, and they do not disappoint; it is a great organization.
The angio CT scan went well and revealed NO blood clots. This is indeed good news. We also learned today that my radiologist, Dr. Ken Neumann will do 5 radiation treatments on tumors in my lungs to ease the coughing issues I’m having. He now practices over in Springhill. Those appointments will be on Wednesdays and we are waiting on that phone call also.
All treatments are over. I need to eat and rest. Deb will (is) my primary caregiver and the best there is. We’ve been talking about our future and we will thankful for each second of each minute that we have together.
How much time do I have left? You’ve heard the old phrase, “Only the Lord knows.” That’s my answer. Wise doctors will say the same. For all practical purposes, the cancer will weaken me until I slip away into the arms of Jesus. I am sad that I will not see my grandchildren grow up, I am sad that Deb and I will not be able to travel as we originally planned and I wanted to do lots of workshops and other things. BUT THE LORD HAS GREATER PLANS! To see the face of Jesus will be worth it all.
As much as would like to attend church, my body told me a couple of weeks ago that will not be possible. I will worship with the saints via the internet from now on.
Thanks for all your prayers, love, cards and concern. They have lightened my load and brought joy to my life. I have the best friends and family. May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you. Trav
When we read last week’s CT scan results on my health portal, we knew better what to expect yesterday when we saw our NP. And, then Dr. Murphy walked into the exam room with the NP and we knew the news was not going to be good.
Long story short: the Erbitux is not working. This is the third thing we’ve tried and it is not shrinking the tumors in my lymph system. Dr. Murphy said that a clinical trial was several weeks away and that a clinical trial promises nothing. If I should decide to sign up, I would be number 20 on a list of people waiting for a trial and there’s no certainty that I will get one because I may not qualify.
A second option is to try the next chemo therapy on the list of chemo therapy drugs. The chances of its working are even smaller than Erbitux and it has side effects like any other treatment. Also, it would continue weakening the body as have the first two treatments. It would be a very long shot.
The third option is to stop all treatments. I am tired, weak and worn out. Whether I take chemo, a trial drug or do nothing I will continue to digress. The fight has not been a pleasant one for obvious reasons. But the most obvious thing is that I am fighting a fight that I cannot win. And, the Lord seems to be telling me that it’s time to come home.
We talked with my mother and our three children. There is a consensus, that the final decision is mine. I have pretty much decided to stop all treatments immediately. I will meet again with Dr. Murphy on April 18 to give her my final decision.
I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t say something to you and about you: you have been my prayer warriors for over six years. You have prayed faithfully and in most cases, you have prayed faithfully daily for my healing. Thank you so much. You have not prayed in vain because you know God can always (and many times) say, “No,” or “Yes” or “Wait” or “I’ve got something better.” The Lord always ALWAYS has something better.
All the things that a husband, father, grandfather and Bible teacher wants to do have been put aside. But nothing can replace seeing the face of my Lord; that will be priceless and eternal.
How much time do I have? Two months? Maybe more. We are speaking in terms of months not years.
For what may you pray? Personally, I think you should continue to pray for a miracle. But also include Debbie, Brad, Michelle and Bethy and their spouses and children in your prayers. They will be fine. But they do need your prayers for some time to come. Pray for me also: I am having breathing problem which will worsen; I also have a bad cough. Both of these are related to the cancer in the lymph gland behind my lungs. Hospice and I will meet on April 18. I have referred dozens of people to Hospice over the years and now it’s my turn. Hospice will not do much at first, but as I slip away, they will provide whatever I need.
I love you and appreciate you all so very much.
Feel free to write, call, text, email, send cards or visit. Just let us know you’re coming if you decide to visit. We’d love that.
We hadn’t been to Waverly since the flood because of my health, but we remember the many pictures that most of us all saw afterwards. We drove the full length of Highway 13 and the devastation was apparent downtown and out on the bypass. There are still piles od debris and cement slabs where houses once stood. The creek which attempted to channel the waters that fateful day is littered with trees, trash and other items. The cars and trucks have been removed long ago. BTW, all rental cars and trucks werer also washed away.
The Waverly church is still housing and feeding people five months later, and in some cases, they deliver items to Kentucky and many times over to Dickson and surrounding areas where flood victims had to move for jobs and housing. When such deliveries are made, many recipients weep and are so thankful for the furnishings, food and supplies. There have some been some very desperate situations. They still need pick up trucks and drivers. If you decide to help in this way, you should call first. The church does NOT deliver every day, and some deliveries are cancelled at the last minute. Becky Keele, the preacher’s wife is in charge of scheduling these deliveries so you need to call the church office and speak with her before heading to Waverly at 931-296-3213.
These wonderful folks are happy to be serving. And, I believe the Lord has opened many more opportunities because of the flood tragedy. They are ready to walk through those doors.
MORE THAN HALF THE CONGREGATION SHOWED UP FOR THE WORKSHOP this past Saturday. We were expecting about 50 members. We got over 70. Wow! And the comments were positive. There were two concerns: we had to be meet in the auditorium because the rest of their buildings are full of people or supplies. We missed sitting at tables. The other concern was that it was shorter than normal; this was due to my health. Usually, a workshop last 6 to 9 hours but I wouldn’t have lasted that long. But overall, everyone loved it and found it very helpful, practical and informative. Just about everyone who attended was older but this also meant that they were serious and mature.
I preached via Facebook the next morning, Sunday the 13th and that was well received also. I’m hoping to spend lots of time with the elders and also with the preachers and staff. Eric Merideth (brother to the late J. Noel Merideth) is the involvement minister and I will continue to train him. I also hope to coach members and assist them in getting their inventories filled out and getting them to fill out involvement forms. My health will only allow this arrangement for all day on Saturdays for now. BTW this is a congregation that has been on the declining side of the church history bell curve charts and is wanting to reverse that trend.
If you have any interest in such an arrangement please contact me. I’d love to talk to you. Trav
On Sunday, December 5, Deb and I attended Bible class and morning worship at Athens Church of Christ where I was the Involvement Minister for 12 years and 2 months. That afternoon from 2 to 4 I signed copies of my new book We Are God’s Masterpiece for those who attended.
We had a fellowship room full of good friends from the church who bought an autographed copy of my book and some bought two books one of which was a Christmas present for a friend or a child. In fact, I almost ran out of books. Others have texted or sent messages on Facebook wanting copies. It’s a good thing that I have lots of other books on order.
It was a great day and we were very tired and we were also invigorated by the love and words of encouragement from these sweet people. We thank the Ladies Sunshine Ministry and all who contributed in some way to the event. And thanks to all who attended. Everyone who attended had a good time.
What if every member of your congregation knew exactly how they were God’s masterpiece? According to Ephesians 2:10, we the church are God’s masterpiece, yet we don’t always know how we each fit into the larger picture. In this book, involvement minister Travis Irwin utilizes his experiences in church leadership to compile several inventories for individuals to complete in order to discover how they are intended to be used in the church. From spiritual gifts to personality types to passions, among others, God has made us each unique parts of the whole. This book will walk any individual through the steps of recognizing just how beautiful and necessary we each are to fulfilling His masterpiece.
Special pricing for bulk orders. Contact the author at email@example.com
I am fortunate enough to receive information from Dan Williams at Harding University about a variety of topics plus I get free sermons and lessons and illustrations. Dan sent out this information today, July 26 and I think it is pertinent for the church that we take its implications seriously. Bottom line: we must engage the world around us or become irrelevant to those in our world. Christians must engage people at home, at work, at school, in the community, in the church and in our recreation. We must engage them with biblical Christianity or transformed lives. Much of what folks see and hear today are unsavory believers (their perspective of us). Please take the time to read this: you will come up with your own conclusions as to what we need to do from hereon. God bless. Trav
A new religious census of the American population has just been released, and its findings provide much food for thought. I have copied below the preliminary announcement of its findings, and the article contains a link to the full survey report. I have four takeaways for our churches:1. Diversify or die.2. Don’t become identified as a branch of the Republican Party (or ANY political party, for that matter).3. We must develop an evangelistic culture in our congregations because we are living in a mission field. 4. Intentionally work to evangelize younger Americans.I would be interested in hearing your comments on this material. Thanks to my friend David Smith (Baytown, Texas) for alerting me to this breaking news.Dan The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) today released the inaugural 2020 Census of American Religion, which provides unprecedented county-level data on religious identity and diversity in the United States. Based on interviews with more than 500,000 respondents between 2013 and 2020, the census report reveals the shifting dynamics of American religious affiliation across geography, race and ethnicity, age, and political affiliation over the last decade. It provides the most detailed estimates of American religious affiliation since the U.S. Census Bureau last collected religious data in 1957. The religious makeup of an area has a considerable impact on life experiences for Americans, and we are proud to release the 2020 Census of American Religion, which enables us to see that religious landscape all the way down to the county level,” noted Natalie Jackson, PRRI research director. “Using this tool, we are able to see how Americans’ religious context varies based on geography, as well as how religious identities are changing. We see some trends continuing, like the continued decline and aging of white evangelical Protestants. We are also seeing shifts in others, such as a leveling out in the religiously unaffiliated and a rebound among white mainline Protestants.” Key Findings on Religious Diversity and Affiliation Based on analysis using a Religious Diversity Index, the census report shows that religious diversity continues to be highest in more urban counties. The most religiously diverse counties in the United States are Kings County, New York; Queens County, New York; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Navajo County, Arizona. Religious diversity is lowest in southern regions of the country and in rural areas, with the least religiously diverse counties concentrated in Mississippi and Alabama. Over the last few decades, the white Christian proportion of the U.S. population has declined by nearly one-third, hitting an all-time low in 2018 of 42%. That trend seems to have slowed, however. In 2019 and 2020, that proportion ticked upward slightly, to 44%, driven primarily by an increase in the proportion of white mainline Protestants and a stabilization in the proportion of white Catholics. White evangelical Protestants are the oldest religious group in the U.S., with a median age of 56 (compared to 47 in the general population), and they have also experienced the most precipitous drop in affiliation over the past decade, shrinking from 23% in 2006 to 14% in 2020. White evangelical Protestants are most heavily concentrated in counties in the South and the southern Midwest. By comparison, white mainline Protestants, which comprise 16% of the U.S. population as of 2020, are spread more broadly around the country, with the heaviest concentrations in counties in the Midwest. The share of religiously unaffiliated Americans has also been on the rise over the past decade but has stabilized in the last three years around one-quarter of the population (25% in 2018, 24% in 2019, and 23% in 2020). Religiously unaffiliated Americans are most prevalent in counties located in the Northeast and the West. The Relationship Between Religious and Political Affiliation Christianity continues to play a significant role in American politics: Both major political parties are majority Christian, with 83% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats identifying as Christian. The biggest difference in the religious makeup of self-identified Republicans and Democrats is the proportion of white Christians compared to Christians of color. Nearly seven in ten Republicans (68%) identify as white and Christian, compared to less than four in ten Democrats (39%). Three in ten Democrats (32%) are Christians of color, compared to only half as many Republicans (14%). Additionally, nearly one in four Democrats (23%) are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 13% of Republicans. “Analysis of the religious identities of the two political parties reveals an increasingly homogeneous Republican Party, comprised overwhelmingly of white Christians, even as the country continues to become more diverse,” noted Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI. “In terms of racial and religious diversity, self-identified Democrats look like 30-year-old America, whereas Republicans look like 70-year-old America.” Other notable findings from PRRI’s Census of American Religion include: Most religious groups are getting older, with the exception of white mainline Protestants and Jewish Americans. The median age of Black Protestants has increased most, from 45 in 2013 to 50 in 2020. In 2013, the median age of white mainline Protestants was 52, and in 2020 it was 50. Jewish Americans have decreased in median age, from 52 in 2013 to 48 in 2020.Americans ages 65 and older are the only group whose religious profile has changed significantly since 2013. Among Americans 65 and older, the proportion of white evangelical Protestants dropped from 26% in 2013 to 22% in 2020, and the proportion of white Catholics dropped from 18% in 2013 to 15% in 2020. Finally, connected to these trends, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated seniors increased from 11% in 2013 to 14% in 2020.Black Protestants, most heavily concentrated in the South and the Southeast, overwhelmingly identify with the Democratic Party. 65% of Black Protestants identify as Democrats, 7% identify as Republicans, and 26% identify as independents.Educational attainment varies considerably across religious groups. Majorities of Hindu (67%), Unitarian Universalist (59%), and Jewish (58%) Americans have four-year college degrees or higher. Comparatively, three in ten white evangelical Protestants (29%) and Black Protestants (29%) hold college degrees, while one in five or less Jehovah’s Witnesses (20%), Hispanic Protestants (17%), and Hispanic Catholics (15%) do.Census of American Religion County-Level Maps The 2020 Census of American Religion includes 13 county-level national maps showing the proportion of the population for the 13 different religious affiliation categories included in the report, including white evangelical Protestants, white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, Jewish Americans, and more. A preview of selected maps included in the report is available here: Religious diversity: https://religioncensus.org/diversity-index All white Christians: https://religioncensus.org/white-christianWhite evangelical Protestants: https://religioncensus.org/white-evangelicalWhite mainline Protestants: https://religioncensus.org/white-mainline-protestantWhite Catholics: https://religioncensus.org/white-catholicLatter-Day Saints (Mormon): https://religioncensus.org/latter-day-saintBlack Protestants: https://religioncensus.org/black-protestantHispanic Protestants: https://religioncensus.org/hispanic-protestantHispanic Catholics: https://religioncensus.org/hispanic-catholicJewish Americans: https://religioncensus.org/jewishMuslim Americans: https://religioncensus.org/muslimBuddhist Americans: https://religioncensus.org/buddhistHindu Americans: https://religioncensus.org/hinduReligiously unaffiliated Americans: https://religioncensus.org/unaffiliatedThe full 2020 Census of American Religion is available on PRRI’s website. https://www.prri.org/research/2020-census-of-american-religion/ MethodologyThe county-level religion census estimates are based on PRRI American Values Atlas data from 2013 to 2019, which includes interviews with random samples of 459,822 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over). Interviews were conducted via telephone (both landline and cell phone) in both English and Spanish. A technique called small area estimation modeling generated county-level religion estimates in 3,142 counties in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, by combining the AVA data with county-level data from the 2014–2018 American Community Survey to increase the certainty of the estimates, particularly in counties with small populations. The estimates have varying measurement error based on the size of the county and the number of surveys completed in each county. Smaller counties have larger measurement error. Dan Williams, Ph.D. — Please send your submissions for PreacherStuff directly to Dr. Dan Williams — DWilliams@Harding.edu — To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to PreacherStufffirstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it true that 20% of church members do 80% of the work? It appears that this is true with many congregations. And, of course, there are exceptions. I have personally worked and worshipped with congregations where 40% to 80% of the members were involved in some sort of ministry in the local church. I have also been told by church leaders that only about 10% of their congregation were involved in ministry. This generalization possibly needs to be reworded thusly: 20% of a church’s membership does 100% of the work. I’m going to suggest that someone (the church secretary, an elder, the preacher) in every congregation take out the church directory and go page by page and determine which members are doing anything (in the way of ministry) for the local church other than attending and contributing money. You can get the percentage by dividing the number of involved members by the number of members you have. For example, if you have 150 members and only 30 of them do anything in the way of ministry, you divide 30 by 150 and you will get .2 or 20%. Having done the math, how do we increase the 20%? If you have invested the time to discover not only the percentage of members involved in ministry in your congregation BUT also WHO IS NOT INVOLVED, you will probably experience a bit of shock and want to know how to INCREASE the percentage. May I suggest the following 3 things: Decide to make the changes necessary to increase the percentage. Start educating the brethren on what the Bible teaches about ministryUse the tools that equip and prepare the brethren to serve. It just so happens that I have tools, knowledge and experience to assist you in getting you started in this adventure. There are 3 ways to approach your needs: Retreats are one-day presentations (usually six hours) which are not only fun but will assist church leaders in determining if they wish to invest more in starting an effective involvement ministry. Workshops are nine hours of intense training for church leaders, deacons and church staff. Workshops are only for congregations that are serious about getting members involved in ministry. Residencies are for congregations who have made the decision to move ahead and start an involvement ministry. Residencies consist any time period from one to thirteen weeks of my residing and working with a congregation. Residencies are optional.
We’ve seen churches begin the process of returning to various types of normalcy.
Most returned first to a Sunday morning worship assembly with spaced seating followed by no spaced seating which was then followed by a Sunday morning assembly for the children for a study of a Bible story or Bible facts. Others have gone back to Wednesday evening studies. Many have totally given up returning to a Sunday evening assembly while others are still working on such an arrangement. Some have returned to normal Sunday morning Bible study for all ages. This is our new brave world or as many call it, our new normal.
Churches have pretty much returned or re-engaged worship and Bible study—and this is a very good thing. Of recent date, one church announced re-engaging the local church in fellowship meals or events. This is also commendable.
However, few have re-engaged its members in ministry. Yes, several congregations never stopped ministry. They changed whom they served and how they served: some congregations provided food for their neighbors.
Many of us have simply allowed our ministries to lay dormant and we are having difficulty getting volunteers now to teach and carry on what we had going on sixteen months ago. I am encouraging everyone to return or re-engage members to ministry. It is time; it is beyond time.
This re-engagement can be activated by an involvement workshop or retreat. Now is the perfect time to do one of these.
What is an involvement retreat? A retreat is designed to help church staff, elders and deacons get revitalized and re-energized for ministry. Members could also be encouraged to participate so they, too would be revitalized and re-energized.
How long does a retreat last? Usually, a retreat is scheduled for a Saturday as follows:
Continental breakfast 8:00 am
Two lessons and break out groups 8:45 to Noon
Lunch at Noon
Two lessons and break out groups 12:45 to 3:00 pm.
Each participant is required to have our new workbook.
What is an involvement workshop? A workshop is for more serious congregations and it goes deeper into involvement. It is an excellent start for an involvement ministry in your church if you do not have one. It can also be used to revitalize your present ministries.
How long does a workshop last? Usually, a workshop starts on a Friday evening and continues on Saturday. It’s for church leaders and staff. Its schedule looks like the following:
Supper 6:00 to 6:45
Two classes with a break out: 6:45 to 8:45 pm.
Breakfast and devotional: 8:30
Two classes with break outs
Lunch at Noon
Two more classes with break outs
Closing 3 pm.
Note: schedules are usually customized to individual congregational needs.
Residencies are available under certain circumstances and needs.
For more information, please contact me at:
Travis Irwin, involvement coach
423 920 3060 (text or call; leave a voice mail if I do not answer)