Home > change, church, conferences, evangelism, outreach > The Sticks Recap Day One

The Sticks Recap Day One

blog_header1The Sticks was an outstanding conference – the first time I’m aware of that a conference has been dedicated to ministries in small towns and rural areas.  The Sticks was hosted by New Hope Community Church in Loudonville, OH – a growing and dynamic church led by an amazing young leader, Pastor Charles Hill.  This was their first attempt at hosting an event like this, and they did a fantastic job!

In a series of posts, I’m going to recap the main sessions.  This comes from my notes, which aren’t verbatim, of course, and in some cases are very impressionistic.  Any lack of clarity or things that don’t sound quite right are my fault, not the speaker’s – they were all great!

Mark Batterson, pastor and author, National Community Church, Washington D.C.

The “big known name” speaker, but also extremely humble, down to earth, and accessible.  Author of “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,” and “Wild Goose Chase.”  A giant – seriously, the guy must be 6′ 7″!  Mark spoke from Jesus’ commissioning and sending The Twelve in Matthew 10.

  • “A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original shape” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • We need a miraculous dimension to ministry – need to see God moving on our behalf.
  • “Take no money.”  God gives us just enough, just in time – this keeps us on our knees.
  • Long-term vision is important and necessary, but the path to where God wants to take is a moment-by-moment sensitivity to Him and His leading.
  • Jesus said to bless first – if the house/person is worthy it will stick, if not take it back.  We get this backwards:  We try to determine worthiness and then bless.
  • Jesus said to be “as innocent as doves” –  Check your motives all the time… Do the right things for the right reasons…  Get rid of short term perspective and take the long view…  Minister from your calling and the overflow of what God is doing in your life.
  • And “as shrewd as snakes.” We must outwit/outsmart the enemy.  We need “contextual intelligence” – sensitivity to our cultural, social, political environment…  Find new “distribution channels” for the gospel message… Use “Trojan horses” to get past impenetrable walls with the gospel.
  • Many people who would never enter a church building will go to a “third place” (a coffeehouse for example) – Explore new places where the church and community can connect.
  • The principle of the purple cow – if you’re not remarkable, you’re invisible.
  • Little things are big things – aesthetics are important.  1% of what we do makes 99% of the difference.
  • “There are ways of ‘doing church’ that no one has thought of yet.”


Barry Worcester, lead pastor, H2O Church, Ada, OK

An experienced pastor who has gone through both personal and ministry transformation.  A very humble and generous guy – I saw him staying after breakout sessions to dialogue with participants, and he was involved in dozens of one-on-one conversations.  In one of them, we discovered that we had some mutual friends going back 25 years.

  • We live in a unique time in human history – by 2050 the world population will be 9 billion people – 7 billion unsaved.  How will we reach them?
  • Almost every denominations/fellowship group is plateaued or declining.  It is a scary thing to sit in a church that is not carrying out the Great Commission.
  • There is no room for mediocrity in this season – Vibrant ministry is not about programs, it’s about the heart of a people who reach out into the community.
  • We need to be risk takers.  If what we’re doing isn’t working, STOP DOING IT! 
  • Failure will be part of the process.  Joshua and the Israelites crossed into the promised land, and promptly made numerous mistakes.  They learned from them and moved on.
  • Small town struggles: Finding funds, facilities, and friends. 


Charles Hill, pastor, New Hope Community Church, Loudonville, OH

Called to the ministry from a law enforcement career.  Intense, passionate, and driven, but also filled with humility and love for Jesus.  A visionary leader with a heart for small town/rural pastors and ministry leaders.

  • Whose voice am I following, God’s or mine?
  • We must experience a “shift” in our soul, when the voice of God becomes loud.
  • Seek balance between being along with God and on the front lines, between counting the cost and taking no thought for tomorrow.
  • A subtle shift can make a substantial change in a leader’s soul.
  • In Saul’s life, subtle shifts led him further and further from the voice and will of God.
  • In Peter’s life, he pushed through mistakes and failures and experienced subtle shifts that led to his leadership in the beginning of the New Testament church and the outpouring of the Spirit.
  • 1 Samuel 15:24, “I was afraid of the people…”  We must fear only God, and not man.  Be willing to ask the tough questions and take unpopular stands.
  • 1 Samuel 13:12, Saul makes a burnt offering before Samuel arrives.  We run ahead of God – moving in the right direction but going the wrong distance.
  • Do you love what you’re saying more than who you’re saying it to?
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