For the past three years, we’ve taken the entire month of August to focus on our Wheatland values: worship, personal transformation, relationships, Next Generations and mission.

Each year, I’ve invited ministry leaders to share their story and how ministry is going in their department. This year we have already heard from specific leaders like John Dudich, Vicay Lauderdale, Michelle Jenks, Kim Neace and Pam Moga. These leaders have a passion for what they do. They lead and sustain excellent worship every week. They inspire others to go on mission trips, manage our Faith Promise budget and maintain meaningful connections with our global partnerships. They help lead Adult Ministries like Hospitality, Small Group development, event planning and Congregational Care ministries. Their responsibilities are numerous and great. I am incredibly grateful to them for their commitment to Jesus Christ and to Wheatland. We are a stronger community of faith because of their devotion, sacrifice and leadership.

Our Wheatland value this Sunday is Next Generations.

I am so proud of what God accomplishes through Wheatland leaders and students. I know firsthand how important Youth ministry can be. Middle school was a difficult time in my life. A lot happened during those years for me. My parents divorced during my teen years which left a huge hole in our lives. My brother and I spent most of time without parent supervision. We learned to figure life out on our own. I made mistakes and had no consistent authority in my life. My life changed when I was invited to a Wednesday night Youth Group meeting. I met Jesus and was baptized later in Lake Michigan at a Summer camp. The bible became a crucial part of my personal life. I purchased my own black, leather bound, New American Standard Bible with my own money. I printed 'Labor Day, 1979: The day I invited Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior,’ on the front page. I was not a perfect church kid—far from it. I took my detours from Youth Group but never from Jesus. Wheatland Student Ministry is changing the lives of students right here at home. Why don’t you get involved with us—I can guarantee your life will never be the same!

It is so important to hear from our ministry leaders.

I believe you need to know who is leading our ministries. I believe you need to know their character and what they’ve faced as Christ followers. Wheatland celebrates a strong history of raising up leaders and sending them out. I believe that’s exactly what God calls us to do—produce more Christ-honoring leaders! The Church is desperate for them. We take this mandate seriously. We must provide an alternative to what the world and even religion have to offer. The political landscape of the greater church is filled with mine fields that collide with biblical values and continue to confuse or distract us from Jesus’ mandate to go out into all the world and preach the gospel. It’s a new day. Leadership is difficult. Leaders are pummeled privately and publicly for what they say and believe. I believe we can bravely take steps to live out our call to live as fully devoted followers of Jesus. It’s more impactful when we do this together.

Lives are changed because of the gospel.

A few years ago, we received a great financial gift from Mike Sieg. The Leadership Team made a decision to tithe 10%. Part of that tithe went to investing in training for next generation leaders from our own church and with our Faith Promise partners in India, Tanzania, Jordan and Poland. Life long relationships were forged during that time last Summer as Wheatland families hosted these young leaders. We all experienced powerful intentional leadership lessons. Each of the Next Gen leaders was given an assignment to develop new ministries to not only sustain what we are currently doing globally—but to also develop new outreach and evangelism ministries. Lives have been changed because of the efforts of these Next Gen leaders. I received reports of new commitments to Christ during Youth Evangelism conferences held in Tanzania. Fantastic new ministry is expanding in Poland as dance and anointed worship music is being included into life-changing experiential worship. India is being set ablaze with the teaching, administrative, healing and deliverance ministries of two powerful Next Gen leaders. Jordanian Youth are being introduced to Jesus Christ and making commitments to Him, even in the midst of a dominant Muslim culture. There is still more to come!

I will be the key note speaker for a leadership conference in Medellin, Colombia in September. I have deep connections to the people of this country and believe the next generation will have a great role to play guiding the future. I am part of the International Leadership Institute in Carrollton, GA. We share a values-based training for leaders. I have been working with an incredible team in Medellin to reach next generation leaders with an important message about resilience and values based leadership. I need your prayers and support while I am there.

Wheatland has so much to offer.

Get involved. Learn more about what is happening. Join a small group, attend a workshop or class to renew or mature your own faith. Serve on a team. Provide a meal for students in Oswego or Naperville. Commit to pray for an international partner. Give financially to make sure all ministry needs are met! Go to another country and serve the people there as Christ serves them. Get out of your comfortable, controlled, boring life and discover what Jesus Christ is all about. There is a place for you at Wheatland. Let’s do great things together!

They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved. Acts 2:47 CEB

Pastor Jen Willson