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Converge Heartland
December 2021

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14a ESV)  

The foundational truth of the Christmas celebration, which human minds cannot fully comprehend, is that Jesus Christ was born and is both fully God and fully man. This truth is one of the countless examples reminding us that God's ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than ours! All the same, we had to go and create just the right name for this divine reality. So we humans came up with something simple and catchy.  A phrase we could easily use in our everyday conversation.  Something with a jingle if I dare say. So what to our wondering ears did appear for giving audible expression to God in the flesh? Well, someone coined the phrase, hypostatic union. Go ahead now, say it with me, "hi-poh-sta-tik yewn-yun." I hope you're okay after that!  This brings us to the legendary Christmas ballad of Bobby Kunkle. 

Bobby Kunkle is currently a student at Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis, but he served many years as the beloved worship pastor at Overland Hills Church in Papillion, NE. As such, he regularly helped out with the church's vacation bible school (VBS). Though our historic Heartland hero, Laura Ingalls Wilder, penned the famous chapter on "Christmas in May," Overland Hills recently went all-in with a "Christmas in July" VBS theme. And what VBS kid does not want to experience Christmas in July!?! I don't know about you, but I'm in!   

Of course, the truth of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us is as accurate in July as it is in December, making the biblical emphasis of Overland Hill's VBS theme both enduring and essential. But to embed this timeless teaching deep into the hearts of children, Bobby orchestrated an unlikely lyrical fusion of incarnational truth encased within the melody of Jingle Bells. Taking his new jingle all the way, Bobby's legendary ballad miraculously popularized the theologically accurate Christmas phrase, hypostatic union, among VBS participants from age 1 to 92. Apparently, this is a feat that not even the famed Saint Nicholas of Myra (270 - 343 AD) was able to pull off. According to Senior Pastor Jon Vinter, the sounds of children clamoring for the "Hypostatic Union Christmas Song" can still be heard throughout the hallowed halls of Overland Hills Church to this very day.  Well done, Bobby! This Christmas season, may we all want more of Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man!  

Although it's been said many times and many ways, "Merry Hypostatic Union!" to you.

Jim Capaldo
Emmanuel!
Jim
Starting churches
'Tis the Season: Stories of Reciprocal Generosity

Pulling a "Portable Church" Trailer from Wichita to Omaha
 
 
Jim Capaldo & Robert Conn


Chris Powell & Chase Hill
Submitted by Jim Capaldo, Regional President Converge Heartland

Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Appolos, Zenas, and others played the role of New Testament mail carriers.  They ministered to the saints while also delivering letters, messages, support, and supplies.  My function within the Converge Heartland District affords me the blessing of this role while being an eye-witness to joy-filled humility, sacrifice, and gratitude.  December granted three such opportunities. 

First, our district's steady giving towards church planting is commendable.  We have grown from completely depleted church planting resources in 2015 to where we now have nearly $200,000 available for a new surge of church planting.  This happens through intentional stewardship and generosity of individuals and churches such as Stromsburg Baptist Church (SBC) in Stromsburg, NE.  Their annual church budget includes only 48 weeks of giving, leaving the four "Fifth Sunday" offerings for supporting special projects like church planting.  Because of their intentional stewardship and generosity, Pastor Mike Brill informed me that SBC was excited to provide extra support for Arrows Church, a new district church plant in the Omaha area.  In early December, I received the blessing of delivering district church planting support and a large love offering from Stromsburg Baptist Church to Pastor Robert Conn of Arrows Church, our district's newest church.

Second, back in 2020, Central Church in Sioux Falls, SD, felt led to sacrificially leverage its financial reserves to further the gospel-advancing mission of several district churches.  One of the recipients was Grace Baptist Church (GBC) in St. Paul, NE.  Central's act of generosity had a substantial impact on the GBC family.  As the Lord provided, they determined to reciprocate generosity by blessing another district church.  They soon connected with Haven Baptist Church, a Kanas church with a similar ministry context that had experienced extensive flood damage to their facilities.  The GBC family decided to raise funds to help with this need through their Thanksgiving Offering.  During the December Wichita Pastoral Lead Team meeting, it was my joy to hand-deliver this sacrificial and five-figured financial gift to Haven Baptist Church Pastor Chris Powell. It was a sacred moment filled with joy and surprise. The generous donation was consecrated through prayer by Pastors Chris Powell and Chase Hill.

Third, sometimes churches have valuable equipment or materials to give to others.  Such was the case with Gospel Life Church (GLC), a developing church plant in Wichita, Kansas.  Because GLC has acquired a permanent meeting space, they were not using their 18' portable church trailer.  When Pastor Chase Hill learned that Arrows Church in Omaha needed portable church equipment, he was happy to help.  After our Wichita Pastoral Lead Team meeting, we got busy preparing the trailer and equipment for transport to Omaha.  Though the gas mileage reduced from 28 mpg to 8 mpg, and despite several odd looks while refueling at gas stations, the underdog district minivan chugged along and successfully pulled the large portable church trailer to Omaha, where Pastor Robert Conn was excitedly waiting.  

"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10 ESV)

Strengthening churches
Interview with Rural Shepherdology Founder, Jerry Troyer
Did you know that the Converge Heartland District is divided evenly between urban and rural ministries?  Half of our churches serve in 12 urban centers, and half of our churches serve among 39 rural and small-town communities. Besides this, 75% of Converge Heartland churches have solo pastors.  The following is a resource to strengthen pastors serving in small towns, rural communities, and smaller churches. 
 
Jerry Troyer is the 24-year Senior Pastor of Eastport Baptist Church in Central Lake, Michigan.  Jerry is the founder of RuralSheperdology.org, a coaching resource for pastors, especially those serving in rural and small-town contexts.   This 30-minute video interview will help you understand who Jerry is, what Rural Shepherdology does, and some of the core issues faced by those he coaches. 
 
Jerry coaches two cohorts of pastors per year.  Each coaching cohort meets monthly for one year. The next cohort begins in February of 2022, and there are only three available slots.  The cost is $50 per month or $600 for the year. Not wanting cost to be an issue, Rural Shepherdology Cohort Scholarships are available through Converge Heartland.  

 
Church Revitalization: Year-End Giving Opportunity
 

Submitted By Jim Capaldo, Regional President, Converge Heartland

As we come to the end of 2021, our district capacities are strong, but our Church Revitalization Funds are nearly diminished.  Due to our growing reputation for assisting Heartland churches through both revitalization efforts and pastoral transitions, we are receiving increased calls for assistance from across a six-state region.  Heartland churches are especially expressing this need in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We desire to strengthen as many gospel-centered churches as we can.  Our goal is to raise $25,000 for advancing the ongoing work of church revitalization.  

Would you please help us bring strength to churches across the Heartland by making a year-end gift to the Converge Heartland Church Revitalization Fund?    Thanks for your partnership and generosity! 

Here are four ways to make a year-end gift for Church Revitalization. 

  • Give online at www.convergeheartland.org/give
  • Give via Venmo by transferring funds to @convergeheartland
  • Text "Give" to (605) 789-5550
  • Mail a check to Converge Heartland, 601 W. 57th St. Sioux Falls, SD 57108, and designate it to Church Revitalization  
 
  DONATE NOW! 
RESGEN Men's Summit January 29, 2022


If you are interested in potentially simulcasting the event at your church, the easiest way to get started is to email Jeff Nelson, RESGEN's office manager, at jeff@resgen.org. Jeff will answer any questions you have, provide you with more information and help walk you through the process. If simulcasting is not a good option for your church, you can still share the event with your congregation and encourage them to be a part of it from the comfort of their home.
Sending people
Remembering Incarcerated People During Christmas
  

Submitted by Dr. Greg Friesner, Director of Incarcerated Ministries

Christmas comes with all types of traditions. Whether it is a candlelight service at church or time spent celebrating with family and friends, Christmas is a time to which most people look forward. In contrast, Christmas can be a time of loneliness and despair for those incarcerated. They often miss the hope of the Christmas story but instead fall into the trap of despondency, feeling like no one cares.

South Dakota Prison Chaplains Association (SDPCA) cooperates with prison chaplains from various denominations. A long-standing tradition of SDPCA is to provide Christmas Sacks for 3,200 inmates within South Dakota. During the week of Christmas, sacks filled with goodies will be distributed to inmates at the penitentiaries in Sioux Falls, Springfield, and Yankton.  Christmas Sacks will also be distributed to inmates of jails in Minnehaha County and Yankton.

Before COVID-19, Christmas Sacks contained homemade fudge, peanuts, and other candies that were hand-packaged delivered by volunteers.   Since COVID-19, the South Dakota Department of Corrections requires us to fill Christmas sacks with prepackaged products. This pandemic-driven requirement significantly increased the cost of Christmas Sacks. But through generous donations, God provided for our needs. This year we have raised over $28,000! Along with financial contributions, many volunteers have come together to organize, pack, and distribute sacks full of treats. The inmates look forward to these gifts packaged with love. The Christmas Sacks project is one way that we are following God’s call in Hebrews 13:3a to “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.” Thank you to those who make this ministry possible. Have a blessed Christmas season!

Invest in Your Church's Missions & Outreach Leaders
 
On February 12, 2022, from 10 AM to 3 PM,  Summit for the Nations is coming to Converge Church in Omaha.  This 1/2-day Converge International Ministries event will equip your church for strategic engagement in global missions through practical main sessions and workshops.  The cost is $20 per person and includes materials and lunch.  

We encourage all pastors to attend and request that every district church send one or more persons who oversee their global missions efforts, partnerships, and/or budgets, whether they are volunteer committee members or church staff members.  - See you in Omaha!

 
upcoming Events
Jan
26-27
Unleash: Converge National Conference
The Unleash Conference will help you unleash every ministry and leader in your church by giving them effective strategies, tools, and new ways to connect people to Jesus that will impact generations for eternity.

There will be workshops for Senior Leadership, Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Worship & Creative Arts, Hospitality & Guest Services, Missions & Outreach, Women’s Ministry, Church Planting & Multiplication, Communications, and more.
Register to attend >
JAN
29
RESGEN Men's Summit
Saturday, January 29, 2022, is going to be a day full of impact for men in the Sioux Falls area and beyond!  Register now for the RESGEN Men's Summit.
FEB
12
Summit for the Nations
Summit for the Nations will equip your team to build and grow an effective global missions ministry. You’ll hear stories of God working in and through His people on the missions field and learn how you can discern your church’s unique calling to global ministry. This event is for pastors, local church missions teams/committees, and those with a heart for the nations.

Register to attend >
Keep in your prayers
Pray for church planting in Converge Heartland
Please be in prayer for church planting in our district.  Our district territory contains over 1,000 communities and 12 million people. Converge Heartland's 60 churches are spread out among 50 of them. Though church buildings abound, we find that many communities do not have a gospel-centered church or that they are growing and under-churched. Pray for God to raise up church planters for the Heartland. 
Prayers for Pastor Tyler Wilterding and Pastor Brian Gangwish and The Table
Pastor Tyler Wilerding still has a few months of deployment as a chaplain to American forces in Djibouti.  We continue to pray for his wife Karmen and five kids to be strengthened as they do life without Tyler.
 
In Tyler's absence we pray for Brian Gangwish as he leads as interim pastor at The Table.  Pray for Brian’s leadership - that God gives him grace and wisdom during this time.  Pray that The Table clings to Christ. Pray for them to be transformed more and more each day by God's Word and through His Spirit.
Pray for Steve Krier, Converge Heartland Church Planting Director
Steve is not only the director of church planting but also the Lead Pastor of Ignite Church.  Pray for Steve as his church has granted him a three-month sabbatical. Pray for his physical rest, connection with family, spiritual growth and reflection, as well as personal renewal. 
Pray for Health, Comfort, and Recovery - COVID-19
We have many reports of people being diagnosed and quarantined with COVID-19.  Please pray as many continue to experience a variety of COVID symptoms.  Pray for those grieving the loss of loved ones from COVID as well as for the recovery of those who have COVID, among other ailments.  
Converge Heartland is a movement of churches working to help people meet, know and follow Jesus. We do this by starting and strengthening churches together worldwide.

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Converge Heartland // 601 W 57th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57108
To support the ministries of Converge Heartland go to www.convergeheartland.org/give