Sweet Fellowship, Straight Talk About Sex, And True Accountability…

men's retreat 2

When asked to describe the most recent Men’s Retreat at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp (IRBC), three concepts floated up fast to the surface of my mind: Sweet Fellowship. Straight Talk About Sex. And True Accountability. This, I believe, would accurately sum up this year’s Men’s Retreat at IRBC. Let me explain…

  1. Sweet Fellowship – This is probably the greatest benefit of attending Men’s Retreat. That is to say, you get to connect with the other guys in your church! I mean really connect socially, mentally, spiritually, and (dare I say it) emotionally. For me, the van ride up to Men’s Retreat is 3 1/2 hours. That’s 3 1/2 hours of jokes, catching up, and encouraging one another in our individual walks with the Lord. I’m an introvert by nature, but I love the awesome fellowship that takes place during Men’s Retreat (all of it) en route, there, and on the way back.
  2. Straight Talk About Sex – Dr. Jim Tillotson (President of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary) delivered a two-part message on the importance of physical intimacy in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, biblical marriage. So much could be said about what he had to say on the topic of sex, but, suffice to say, these sermons were some of the most practical messages I’ve ever heard delivered from the Bible. These sermons contained warnings against porn, the “other woman”, and a constant stream of encouragement to go home and “rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love” (Prov. 5:18b-19).
  3. True Accountability – Now to be fair, this was Dr. Tillotson’s preaching topic in his third and final message, but this is also one of the unique aspects of Men’s Retreat. In other words, you get to experience a condensed, intense experience of true accountability. The men around you, especially the ones from your church, are constantly asking you about your walk with the Lord, your relationship with your wife and kids, and how things at work are going. It’s awesome!  I truly believe that men need this accountability because (let’s be frank) our walk with God gets stale, our relationship with our wife and kids is sometimes difficult, and we tend to overwork and exhaust ourselves for all the wrong reasons! Bottom line: Men need accountability, and at this year’s Men’s Retreat, you got that accountability.

Time would fail me to talk about all of the activities, food, singing, and the gorgeous lakefront up at the camp. But what I’ve just mentioned (sweet fellowship, straight talk about sex, and true accountability), from my perspective, sum up the experience of Men’s Retreat 2017. Never been to IRBC’s Men’s Retreat? Well, there is always next year…and I would highly encourage you to go.

Generosity: The What and Why…


This Sunday, August 27, we will be landing the plane on our current mini-series that we’ve entitled, “We Give.” In this mini-series, we’ve examined the call of God to live generously in the areas of our time, talents, and (as we shall see this Sunday) with our treasure. In fact, this Sunday, we’ll be examining Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24 and truly getting to the heart of generosity. To whet your appetite for this Sunday’s dinner, please watch the following two video clips and begin to consider the what and why of generosity.

The What of Generosity…

The Why of Generosity…

Growth Groups: Fall 2017


We are relaunching Growth Groups on Sunday, September 10. These groups will run from September 10 – October 29 (i.e. for 8 weeks). Growth Groups will parallel and coincide with our next two mini-series entitled, “We Pray” and “We Tell”. Please Note: The first two Sundays (Sept. 10 and 17) all Growth Groups will meet in the church auditorium for “Worship and Prayer Nights” from 6-7 PM. Then, on Sunday, September 24, all Growth Groups will meet at Klint and Kendra Gingerich’s home for a bonfire, pizza, singing, and prayer (more details to come). Individual Growth Groups will then begin to meet on Sunday, October 1.

Below you will find some helpful information on why we have Growth Groups, the characteristics of a healthy Growth Group Leader, the nuts and bolts of Growth Groups, and other pertinent information. However, for more information on Growth Groups, or to join a Growth Group, please see Pastor Dave or Pastor Jon.

Why Growth Groups?

  1. It’s Historical – The early church was all about growth groups (cf. Acts 2:46, Acts 5:42, Acts 12:12, and Romans 16:3-5).
  2. It’s Christological – Jesus ministers to Thousands (cf. Matt. 9:35-36 and Matt. 14:13-21). He commissions “The Seventy” (cf. Luke 10:1-2). He appoints “The Twelve”. He spends major time with “The Inner Three” (i.e. Peter, James, and John – Mark 5:37-42, Mark 9:2, and Mark 14:33ff).
  3. It’s Practical – Because of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Because of Our Mission/Vision: To be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.

The Basic Philosophy of Growth Groups:

  1. Upward Focus (The Worship Element to Growth Groups) – The primary (not sole, but primary) focus of Growth Groups is to dig deep into God’s Word to mine all of the nuggets of His Word for equipping and edification. Our method of mining nuggets from God’s Word is sermon-based small group discussion.
  2. Inward Target (The Nurturing Aspect of Growth Groups) – While worship is our primary focus, caring for the health (both physical and spiritual) of our Growth Group members is vitally important. Growth Groups (ideally and philosophically) will provide our PF church members and regular attendees with their primary care in terms of support, prayer, and friendship.
  3. Outward Service (The Community Component to Growth Groups) – Reaching up is our primary focus…reaching inward is vitally important…but reaching outward to our community in terms of praying for our community and doing service projects for our community is the real heartbeat of Growth Groups.

The Characteristics of a Healthy Growth Group Leader:

  1. Godly – He is Christlike…not perfect…but a Christlike individual.
  2. Eager – He has an earnest desire to be a Growth Group Leader.
  3. Powerful Presence – He appears to be in charge…when he speaks, others listen.
  4. Understands Group Dynamics – The talker. The crier. The pessimist. The optimist. The fixer. The quiet one. The jokester. —– Family Dynamics.
  5. Organized and Efficient – Can put together an enjoyable and profitable meeting.
  • Excursus: How do I organize my Growth Group?
    • Pray like it’s all on God.
    • Work like it’s all on you.
      • Prioritize.
      • Learn to say “no”.
      • Keep a to-do list or planner. Write down everything!
      • Be realistic.
      • Celebrate your accomplishments.

The Covenant of Growth Groups:

As a Growth Group Leader, you are promising to:

  1. Provide a safe and clean environment for effective biblical discussion to take place.
  2. Prepare well for each Growth Group session by means of staying organized and exercising time management skills.
  3. Maintain confidentiality of any and all sensitive information that is given to you by your Growth Group members.

As a Growth Group Member, you are promising to:

  1. Endeavor to make it to each Growth Group session and to make these sessions a priority in your life.
  2. Prepare well for each Growth Group session by means of Sunday morning church attendance and by bringing your Bible to each Growth Group session.
  3. Maintain confidentiality of any and all sensitive information that is given to you by other Growth Group members.

The Nuts and Bolts of Growth Groups (By Pastor Jon):

  1. How Groups Are Formed – Groups are typically formed along demographical lines, family lines, and geographical lines. From time to time, we will mix things up and form new groups along entirely new lines 😊
  2. How Questions Are Formed – Questions typically correspond to the following categories: 1) “Warming Up” questions help the group to “Describe” and “Reflect”, 2) “Digging Deep” questions help the group to “Proclaim”, and 3) “Making It Useful” and “Earnest Prayer” help the group to “Confront” and “Transform.”
  3. How Leaders Are Formed – The following are some helpful tips on how to be more effective as a Growth Group Leader: 1) Be Creative, 2) Wait Out the Quiet, 3) Allow Everyone To Speak, But Remain In Control, 4) Get Back On Track – Always, and 5) Be Transparent!

Miscellaneous Items:

  1. We serve a God of decency and order (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40). Thus, our Growth Groups should be done decently and in order.
  2. Sometimes a legitimate crisis will occur in the life of your Growth Group member and you (as a group) should suspend your agenda to offer the comforts and commands of the Gospel (cf. Eph. 1 and 5).
  3. These crises should be few and far between. If a certain person is in extended crisis, or is always bringing up the same issue over and over again to the detriment of the whole group, seek out pastoral counseling.
  4. The Growth Group Leader must ensure theological accuracy in Growth Group conversations. No one’s opinion trumps the Word of God. Stand firm!

From the Intern’s Desk: Life as the PFBC Intern


The annoying sound of the alarm on my phone goes off once more at 7:45. “I really should wake up now.” I quickly ready myself for the day ahead of me. I keep a running list of things I must remember in my brain. The list includes book bag (with my laptop in it), breakfast (most mornings a pop-tart), my planner, my bible, and whatever else I need to sustain me throughout the day. I hustle up the stairs, and out to my car on another hot, sunny, central Iowa day. I arrive at Kalona Coffee at 9ish for our Monday Morning Staff Meeting. I order a fruit smoothie from the counter, and I take my seat next to Pastor Dave, and Pastor Jon. We begin our staff meeting noting any praises from the previous week, which encourages us as we dive into the work ahead of us. We then begin the never ending work of Pastoral Ministry. This has been my life for the past 12 weeks, and I have loved every second of it.

This week marks an end to my 12 week internship. These 12 weeks have challenged, molded, encouraged, strengthened, and cultivated my own life and my ministry skills. I have always been very busy, and I have never wondered what I would do with my time at the office. I have loved my work, my co-workers, and my church here in Central Iowa. I have learned to call this place home, and I have loved my home.

I have loved the Monday morning staff meetings, the many delicious meals with church members, the countless hours of sermon preparation, the encouraging visitations, and the numerous other aspects of this internship that have made this summer special. I have learned so many lessons here at PFBC. Here are the 7 main lessons:


7 Lessons I have Learned at PFBC…

1. Never leave work before checking the weather. 

  •  During my first week here at PFBC I encountered a huge storm on my way home from work. A huge wind gust blew my truck into the ditch, and I had to call Pastor Dave for help. This lesson is very humorous, but definitely true. I will never leave work without checking the weather ever again.

2. Ministry is not limited to the hours of 9-5. 

  • I quickly realized in my first week at PFBC that ministry happens after hours. Pastors definitely must labour to preserve their off-time, but they also must realize that people do not just encounter hardship during these times. Pastor Dave allowed me the privilege of being involved in every “crisis” situation. I saw everything from 10:30 P.M. phone calls to entire off days being occupied by ministry. Often the calls we got were mentally straining, and I often needed to cry out to God for help. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity I have had to participate in “real” ministry at all hours.

3. I cannot be the “Savior” in ministry.

  • Every Pastor struggles with pride in one form or another. Counseling often leaves you feeling “accomplished” especially if you have just told them exactly what they needed. The Pastor is involved in many situations in which he can project himself to be the “hero”. The sad reality is that many Pastors have spent far too long trying to be the “Savior”, and their ministries are clear representations of it. Many times we spend far too often contemplating what we can do to help someone. The reality is that we cannot help anyone in our own strength. Charles Spurgeon says, “The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it simply needs to be let out of its cage.” I learned that any effectiveness I will have in ministry will ultimately come from Jesus Christ, and the power of His gospel.

4. There is a tremendous benefit in having more than one Pastor.

  • One of the benefits I have had here at PFBC is the benefit of a Pastoral Staff. I was privileged to work under two great Pastors this summer. The unique aspect of our staff is that we are all so different in personality, but yet united in mission. The benefit of this was the unique perspective we all had on different situations. I found myself time and time again thankful for their input on different assignments. The unfortunate downfall of many Pastors today is a lack of accountability. I appreciated the fact that the staff at PFBC were all very transparent, and extremely accountable. I count both of these men as fantastic ministry partners, and great friends.

5. The trials of ministry will either tear you apart, or pull you together.

  • The work of Pastoral ministry is an incredible privilege. This privilege does not come with a lack of trials. In fact Pastoral ministry will bring you more trials than you could ever hope to handle. This internship was not absent of various trials. I found myself in many situations doubting my call to ministry, and question my ability to “Pastor” effectively. Fortunately God continued to work while I was here, and the trials I encountered during my time here encouraged my call. I found myself having an even deeper desire for Pastoral ministry. The trials we as a staff faced strengthened our bond of unity. I feel a deeper bond with these two men because of different difficult situations we faced. God used the fire of the trials to strengthen my ability for ministry, and to deepen my trust in him. This lesson was hard to understand, but it was vital to my development. Trials, for the believer, are a definite, but your response to them makes all the difference.

6. Develop friendships that will sustain you in ministry. 

  • The presence of these trials mentioned earlier, almost necessitate the need for deep, personal, godly friends. I am grateful for the fact that both Pastors here were not only my coworkers, but they are also my friends. They were able to encourage me throughout this internship, which impacted me tremendously. I am also very grateful for a couple of close friends that I kept in contact throughout the summer. They encouraged me, supported me, and even kept me laughing. Many Pastors have few friends because of the nature of their work. While it is hard to maintain friendships in ministry, I believe it is crucial for a Pastor to have a couple good friends he can call in times of trouble.

7. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

  • I heard this phrase almost everyday on my internship. The fact that Pastor Dave almost overstated this phrase does not negate its truth. I came into this internship content with just, “getting the job done”. I now see the value in striving for excellence in everything you are doing. I saw this quality in both Pastors, as both of them are excellent Pastors. I can remember my first sermon I preached at PFBC. Pastor Dave had me write up a sermon preview for the bulletin. I can remember spending around 20 minutes typing this up, and I was content with how it looked. He took one glance at what I had wrote, and gave it back to me. We sat down and spent a half hour revising it. He would not let me give half an effort, which is exactly what I needed. Life is too short to do anything half heartedly. One of the biggest lessons I learned this summer was, if I am going to glorify God, I need to give Him my best in everything I do.

I enjoyed many aspects of interning, but I would have to say may favorite was the process of preparing sermons. I had preached many times before this internship, but this was my first experience actually preparing a sermon during a normal, robust week of Pastoring. I enjoyed the frightening, yet rewarding aspect of sharing God’s word on 5 different occasions during the morning worship service.

I have learned many lessons on this internship that I will not soon forget. I have loved my time at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. I am thankful for all of the members who took me in and fed me, encouraged me, challenged me, and loved me. I am excited to see how God uses this experience in the future, and I hope I have been a blessing to the church as well. To my Prairie Flower Church Family… May God bless you and keep you. I have you all in my heart!