Thursday, March 31, 2011

48 hours with Doug Cushing

Last week Doug Cushing spent 48 hours with us at Chain of Lakes Church. Doug is the coach for our new church. In the Presbyterian Church (USA) new churches are offered the opportunity to have a coach. Rev. Ken Mc Cullen—who is on the Steering Committee for Chain of Lakes—helped set up the coaching program. Research shows that it is vital for new churches and especially organizing pastors of new churches to have a person who can provide counsel and reflections.

Doug was the organizing pastor for Tyger River Presbyterian Church in South Carolina. That church started in 1997 and today has about 200 people come to two worship services. The following link shares history about the development of the church:

I have a monthly phone conversation with Doug. I started the conversations with him shortly after I received the call to serve as the Organizing Pastor of Chain of Lakes Church. He asks me to fill out a form and then we talk for about a hour. He lets me discuss what is of most interest to me. He’s occasionally directive, but usually listens and reflects.

Doug’s visit to the north metro last week was the third one he has made. We certainly kept him busy. On Tuesday he met with our staff during the afternoon. He shared with the staff some of his own stories. That evening he met with our Friends group. At the meeting he talked about the retention system of new guests that Tyger River has set up.

I was disappointed that Doug couldn’t prevent the half-a-foot of snow that we received in the north Metro on Wednesday morning. The snow stopped us from having a breakfast with others at Chain of Lakes. It didn’t stop the two of us from having a lengthy conversation about what is happening with Chain of Lakes Church. At lunch the two of us met with Chaz Ruark, Executive Presbyter of Twin Cities Area Presbytery, and Newell Krogmann, contract staff for church development for the Presbytery. On Wednesday evening a group of us from Chain of Lakes shared a meal and had conversation with him. Doug asked people to share their greatest joys and concerns about our new church. The conversation was rich, lengthy, and surely will be continued.

On Thursday he spoke at a luncheon for leaders in the Presbytery. I was pleased that approximately twenty pastors and elders attended the luncheon. Besides hearing from Doug I shared a status report on the progress of our new church, Jennifer Huehns (staff at Chain of Lakes) shared a terrific presentic about how our new congregation uses Facebook, and John Ivers shared a demographic report on our geographic area.

Immediately after the luncheon I whisked Doug to Bloomington where he caught up with his brother, who is the pastor of an Evangelical Free Church. In the next few weeks Doug will write a report about his visit that will be shared with the Steering Committee, the Church Development Team of the Presbytery, and anyone else who is interested in reading it.

It was very heartening to me to hear that of the eight churches Doug has coached, he has received the most enjoyment of any through his involvement with Chain of Lakes.

All of us need a set of outside eyes every now and then. We at Chain of Lakes are very appreciative of how Doug has helped us develop as a new church.

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