When Forest Dale Wesleyan Church merged with Furnace Brook Wesleyan it wasn’t just our congregations and affairs that merged. We became one church with one mission: making more and better disciples for Jesus.
Since then our commitment to that mission has led to us adopting lots of different strategies for Forest Dale:. We have tried different worship times, worship styles, and leadership arrangements. We’ve remodeled the sanctuary and tinkered with the branding.
Through all of that experimentation the people who have been committed to worshiping at Forest Dale have been admirably resilient.
And considering how flexible they proved to be and how committed we all were to the mission it’s been hard to understand why nothing has met with the success we expected to have. It’s been hard at times not to feel discouraged, and all the more so as attendance continued to grow and we continued to rejoice in salvations and life transformation in the context of the ministry at the Pittsford Campus. And all of that brings us to the latest interesting and promising arrangement for Forest Dale.
New Forest Dale Arrangement
Since March, Rev. Barry Tate, the father of our lead pastor, Joel Tate, has been leading a gathering at Forest Dale at 9:30am. The idea was that it would be something more than an adult Bible Study but less than a full church service; something that would give people an opportunity to go on getting some worshipful edification in a location they had come to love, but which would not prevent them from joining their fellow Furnace Brookers for worship at the 11:00 service at the Town Hall in Brandon.
Since then the 9:30 service at Forest Dale has enjoyed some modest growth in numbers and in depth of fellowship with Rev. Barry Tate coming to have a very special place in the hearts of the people meeting there. So when Pastor (Joel) Tate led the evaluation on the services at Forest Dale and the Town Hall, the colleagues with whom he consulted encouraged the board to consider committing to worship services at Forest Dale through the summer if his father was going to be available to lead them. And they encouraged the board to consider giving the services at Forest Dale a distinct identity, while remaining committed to the idea that Furnace Brook is one church in however many places.
Because Rev. Barry Tate has a longstanding commitment to preaching at the West Haven Baptist church from June through September, the people of Furnace Brook who enjoy worshiping at Forest Dale cheerfully agreed to a 6:00pm worship time to accommodate him and Barry Tate is now at least as busy in retirement as he ever was in full time ministry.
This will be the first Sunday for Forest Dale Worship at 6:00 and what it will end up being is still somewhat in flux as everyone is figuring out what will work best there. But we do know a few things about this service of Furnace Brook:.
What You Should Do About It
Regardless of the location where you attend we encourage you to be sold out for the mission, and lifting the church up in prayer.
1. Get excited about the mission! We are all about making more and better disciples, as one church body in many locations.Pray about our mission, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow closer in your relationship with Jesus. Ask yourself the hard questions about what your discipling looks like, and who you could be discipling. If you are not in a Growth Group or discipling relationship, we encourage you to get plugged in (more information can be found on the church website).
2. Be in prayer for everyone at Forest Dale as we embark on this next chapter. Please be praying for your church regularly. Pray that Jesus is glorified in all of our buildings. Pray that our leadership has Godly wisdom and counsel. Pray for unity and love within the members. Pray for our church goers to grow in their relationship with Jesus. Pray to be challenged personally in your ministry and daily life. Pray for our ministry to impact our community in such a way that people are brought to a saving relationship with Jesus. Pray that each and every person who walks through our doors feels the love of Jesus. Pray that we are one church making more and better disciples.
By: Joel Tom Tate
“All truth is God’s truth.” As a freshman at a Christian college I was being asked to read a book by an atheist, and I was suspicious. The professor refused to apologize that the assigned text was from a nonbeliever, insisting that God’s grace extended even to the New York Times best sellers list.
It’s a simple and fairly obvious idea: not everything is true, but everything that is true is true regardless of who said it. It’s not hard to grasp, but it can be hard to accept.
How Can Christians Know Truth in Today’s World?
Every day, it seems, we read about some campus dust-up over the removal of another book from the curriculum. Works of literature get tossed in the memory hole because the author, it turns out, held beliefs which, however conventional at the time, are now considered politically incorrect. And whether you cheer that as a principled stand or condemn it as another step down the slippery slope to George Orwell’s “1984” depends on where you line up in the culture wars.
But it’s a universal impulse. We all have a tendency to quarantine the things we fear might carry their author’s infection. But should we? If it’s true that all truth is God’s truth do we need to fear that good and true things may carry some hidden contamination?
A former pastor of a midwestern megachurch has been in the news lately because of new, sensational accusations. He had already been fired from the church he started because of financial improprieties and a leadership style that has been described as “bullying.” But add to the long list of accusations about him the new bombshell coming from two different people that he tried finding a hitman to kill someone who he felt posed a threat to his ministry.
Judging by the people I know to still be among the living, this is not a widespread practice among pastors, most of whom remain stubbornly committed to the more biblical if less gratifying approach of “killing them with kindness.”
It’s not surprising at all that this pastor lost his pulpit. It makes complete sense that he has been disinvited from speaking engagements and that his calendar has freed up. But what’s interesting is that bookstores have stopped carrying the books he has written, and publishers have stopped publishing them. And it’s not because there is no longer a market for these books or because anything he wrote is untrue. People are still buying them and reading them and, presumably, benefitting from them.
I have one of those books on my shelf. I read it several years ago and it made a real impact on me at a critical point in my ministry. It breathed fresh air into my preaching and my commitment to the church. It still informs my thinking.
How to Sift for Truth Biblically in a Fallen World
I’m having a tough time reconciling the author of that book with the man who asked his bodyguard to “take care of” a problem for him. And I’m wondering if a book that no longer has a place on the shelves of Christian retailers should have a place on the shelf of my study.
Regarding how to sift through books (as well as movies, music, television, celebrities, memes, etc.) these are some of the conclusions I’ve come to:
Now there have been entire books written on this topic and by better authors than this one. And, as the Teacher says in Ecclesiastes, “of the writing of many books there is no end.” So a blogpost like this one may be of limited value.
But it’s my hope that Christians in an intolerant culture and an incurious age would be set apart by their confident discernment and Holy Spirit led appropriation of all the truth they can get their minds on while carefully spitting out all the nasty stuff before it gets swallowed.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.
Written by: Joel Tate
As part of the Wesleyan denomination, our Church meets annually to discuss the past year and take the opportunity for members to vote on board positions.
The theme for our annual meeting this year (2019) was “the proper time,” a reference to Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
2019 Annual Meeting: The Proper Time
In God’s wisdom this is the proper time for our church to do some fun and wonderful things. It is the proper time for growing in numbers and scope as we fulfill our mission of making more and better disciples for Jesus. More and more people are attending services at one of our locations and subsequently praying for salvation, getting baptized, and engaging in discipleship.
But it is also the proper time for facing some challenges. We have strategically positioned ourselves for this growth by adding personnel, systems, and worship services. We are confident that these decisions have been vindicated and that we are going to be very grateful in the long run. But, in the meantime, we have to fund them and that means finding ways to operate within a constrained budget.
And our annual meeting highlighted all of this in the ways that make Furnace Brook special. Jesus was front and center. We operated transparently and told bracing truths to each other with candor. And all of this was discussed without any rancor, as becomes the mission-driven sons and daughters of the God whose peace passes understanding.
For a copy of the Pastor’s report follow this link, and you can listen to the recording of the annual meeting here.
The officers who were elected for the upcoming year are as follows:
Vice Chairman - Calleen Brosse
Treasurer - Dan Tilden
Secretary - Wendy Wood
Members at Large - Susan Hibbard, Tim Elliott, Tom Valach
Lay Delegate to District Conference - Dick Brosse
If you have questions about the annual meeting, please contact the office: email@example.com; (802)483.2531. Board members are also available to answer questions.
Written by: Joel Tate
One of the best things about the account of the resurrection in the Gospels is the various reactions of the disciples and others. Those reactions range from ecstatic fist pumping on the end to consternation and scheming on the other.
But no one shrugged. Because no one, not even Jesus’ disciples saw it coming.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”- Mark 16:6
God Is Surprising
The best thing about God is that he loves us.
The second best thing about God is that, loving us, he made a way through his Son, Jesus, to save us.
But somewhere down that list of wonderful things about God we come to the fact that he is surprising. It is delightful to have a surprising God, a God who “upsets the world’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19.)” It is good to have a surprising God. Don't be surprised if God surprises you.
As we celebrate Easter again remind yourself of the benefits and responsibilities of following a surprising, confounding, upside-downing sort of Savior.
How to Respond to a Surprising God
1. Act surprised
God is surprising you for a reason. He wants to you to experience more of him, a fresh revelation of his nature, and his love for you. Resist the temptation to play it cool. If God goes to the trouble of blowing you away, have the decency to be visibly, demonstrably blown away. And, along the way, enjoy the ways that God surprises you.
2. Don’t give up on certainty
But wear your certainty like a winter coat, something you get the benefit of in the cold, but which you remove the moment you step into a warm foyer. Be really certain about what you’re certain of, right up to the point where God takes your certainty away. Be certain that people who get a diagnosis of terminal illness invariably die of that illness . . . right up to the point where God miraculously heals.
3. Know where the surprise won’t come from
While it’s true that he makes all things new, it’s also true that God himself never changes. He does not break faith, there is no sin in him, and his character is always, invariably, a matter of love.
4. Be God’s co-conspirator
Sometimes in my friendship with a non-believer I imagine that, having been given access to my friend’s life, I have been recruited to be God’s “inside man.” I find a window in the house of my friend’s life and make a point of leaving it unlatched that God might sneak in and surprise my friend someday by jumping out from behind his furniture. I hope that’s less creepy than it sounds.
The point is that, being grateful for the way in which God has surprised me, I want to make it possible for God to surprise my friends in the same way.
5. Add an asterisk to everything else
In humility, be aware that having a surprising God and being a human with limited insight means that the next surprise could come from just about any direction. And that surprise could mean a change in my politics or in my circumstances or in my heart. And while I can’t know ahead of time what shape that surprise will take, I can trust the God who’ll spring it on me.
6. Be the surprising servant of a surprising God
Let your neighbors and friends find you just as delightfully surprising as the God that you serve (1 Peter 4:4.) We are God’s prank on a world that he wants to save. Play your part with mischief and grace.
7. Know God is never surprised
While God often works in ways we find unconventional, remember he is never surprised. Adam's sin didn't surprise him, and Jesus was ready to die and rise on our behalf. He is never caught off guard, and he knows your yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Written by Joel Tom Tate
Our Brandon Campus is a ministry of Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church where the mission is to make more and better disciples. The Brandon Campus is a place for the unchurched and the dechurched where faithful informality and an unconventional approach to doing church might open the door through which unlikely people can make their way into the Kingdom.
We do this by:
I would like to report to you that we are making progress on our Brandon campus. As with
anything new it takes a couple times trying to find the right footing. After five Sundays at the Brandon Town hall, I think, we have hit a good stride.
Brandon Campus tutorial:
As someone who has experienced the uncomfortable feeling of attending a new church but not feeling like I fit in, I have some insight into how to create an environment where people feel welcome but not called out for being the newcomer.
This past Sunday we had a potluck following the service. The invitation was open to anyone with the intention of having everyone in one place to experience and catch the vision. As stated above, our intention for this service is designed for those who feel uncomfortable in formal church setting, those who have been hurt by the church or those who have never been to church. I have a desire for everyone to love Jesus as much as I do, so we want to make attending church as easy as possible.
If after reading this you are as excited about our vision as we are, please visit our Brandon campus or contact Abbey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday we received tragic news regarding people in our fellowship, news we’re not ready to make public, but of which people are becoming aware. It’s asking a lot of you to ask you to curb your curiosity while stirring your concern, but that’s what we’re asking.
Biblical Response to Tragedy
In the meantime, we’d like to offer you this biblical approach to responding to tragedy.
1. Mourn. It’s a verb, something that you do, and not just a matter of feeling sad. Matthew 5:4, Ecclesiastes 7:2
2. Leave everything private that can safely remain that way. 1 Thessalonians 4:11
3. Say everything that you need to say and nothing that you don’t.
It is a great temptation in the face of tragedy to respond verbally, and some things need to be said. But even the best words do less good than ill-considered words do harm. James 1:19
4. Don’t look for or accept short cuts and easy answers. Nothing good comes of trying to make short what God left long, or easy what God has permitted to be hard. The valley of the shadow of death is, indeed, long and difficult to traverse, but we have a good traveling companion. Psalm 23
5. Your grief can rot into injury or ripen into resolve. Carefully manage your grief, exposing it to the light of the Lord, to see it mature into a greater resolve to bring about the Kingdom of God, the place where the “shalom,” the peaceful, right-ordering of things prevails under God’s lordship.
6. Pray to God and for God. No grief touches us but that it grieves him also. He does not need us and he does not suffer from lack of our prayer. But he loves us and when we pray about a tragedy we have the opportunity to acknowledge the way in which sin and its direct and indirect effects have touched his Father’s heart. This is the spirit in which many of the Psalms might be prayed.
7. Let grace prevail. Look for opportunities to extend and receive grace. The impulse to publicly demonstrate your concern can run contrary to the interests of grace.
If, as you become aware of more details, you need help processing this event please contact us in the office and let us walk through it with you. (Email email@example.com, or call 483.2531)
Written by Joel Tate
We Did it Backwards...
This past Sunday at 11:00 we had our last service at the Center Street Bar and we did the service from 9:00 at Pittsford in reverse order! We decided to arrange the service so that it built up to the act of worship and the Spirit was present and the voices beautiful in that place!
It was fresh and invigorating in the way that new things are, and it served as a test run for something exciting that we are doing starting this week!
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church is all about making more and better disciples, and in our pursuit of that mission we’ve been blessed with a vibrant church, but there can be problems that come with growth. On recent Sundays at our Pittsford Campus we could have used more seats and parking spaces, and we believe that trend will continue as God uses us to make more and better disciples here.
Anticipating God’s continued work, we’re positioning ourselves for growth. Below are updates to our current worship times and locations, starting Sunday, March 17th.
New Worship Menu Options
1. Pittsford Service at 9am
9am Pittsford worship | 67 Gecha Lane, Pittsford
At Pittsford at 9:00 we will go on having the vibrant and compelling worship experience to which so many of you have become accustomed. Nothing will change.
2. Forest Dale gathering with Barry Tate at 9:30am
9:30am Forest Dale Gathering |1895 Forest Dale Rd., Forest Dale
At 9:30 Pastor Tate’s father, Barry Tate, will lead a gathering in our Forest Dale location. Designed primarily with the people of the Forest Dale Campus in mind, but open to anyone.This gathering will look to use a combination of Bible teaching, prayer, and simple, traditional worship to bring about healing and a deeper gospel experience. There will not be any children’s ministry or communion at this gathering. We have committed to taking this gathering through May (Barry Tate’s term of availability) and will make a decision about extending it through the summer by the first Sunday in May.
Note: the Forest Dale 10am Service will no longer occur.
3) Brandon Worship at the Town Hall, 11am
11am Brandon Worship | Brandon Town Hall, 1 Conant Sq., Brandon
And at 11:00 we will be offering a fresh and intimate worship experience at the Town Hall in Brandon. Building on the success of our once-a-month services at Center Street and employing an original order of service that makes our concluding time of acoustic worship the focal point, this service will include much of the same content as the 9:00 service but in a different format. There will be children’s church and weekly communion. This service is specifically geared towards those who are newer believers, unchurched, or may not be comfortable in any type of Church environment. Our goal is to make Jesus known, and we are specifically hoping to love our neighbors who are hurting, most in need of Jesus, and who reflect our prayer for a ‘messy Church’. We serve a powerful, chain-breaking, river splitting, mountain crumbling God, and we’re eager to see him move powerfully in our Church, and specifically in the Brandon community.
Note: the second sunday service at Center Street will no longer occur.
Brandon Worship Service: We Expect God to Work Powerfully!
We’re excited about the Brandon Town Hall service, and believe that it will become a very important part of how we accomplish our mission of making more and better disciples for Jesus at Furnace Brook. Not only does having a worship service at 11:00 in downtown Brandon significantly expand the scope of our ministry, but there are reasons to be intrigued and excited about this service in particular. Those of us who had the chance to worship at Center Street this past Sunday have an idea of what this could be and we’re thrilled about it.
But for this to happen we will need your help.
In order for Moses to part the Red Sea, God called him to take a step of faith, and put his staff in the water first. God foiled the Egyptians and liberated the Israelites, but Moses was faithful in trusting God and taking action in obedience (Exodus 14).
Pastoral intern, Abbey Elliott, and Pastor Tate will be recruiting people to commit to volunteer and attend the service through May. That means that you may get a call from one or the other of them, especially if you already live in Brandon or points north.
Here’s how to respond when they contact you:
Not sure if you’ll be able to attend the Brandon service? Throw yourself into supporting it (and the other things your church is doing) through prayer.
Questions about the service menu options? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re almost through week 2 of the step challenge. How is everyone doing? Has anyone done anything out of the ordinary just for the sake of the step challenge? I have been doing more snowshoeing! This is not a winter activity that I used to enjoy doing but for some reason this winter I’ve done it a bunch. It’s an activity that my grandfather loves doing as well so we’ve been out in the woods together and it has been such sweet fellowship.
When I was a freshman in college, I decided to become a plant-based vegan. It was during the Lenten season that I prayed over my health and asked God to heal me and make me healthy again. Praise the Lord, I have come a long way in my health. God has given me a passion for helping people create healthy lifestyles. I hope you find some encouragement in this.
In this season of Lent, perhaps God is asking you to be more deliberate with your food consumption.
Part of the motivation to stay active comes from feeding our bodies the proper nutrition to stay moving. With the winter months being cold and long, we tend to pack in the carbs and leave out the fruits and veggies.
Conveniently, this week is the beginning of Lent! I encourage you to evaluate what you’re consuming and see if there are some adjustments you can make.
Consider the following questions about your dietary habits:
Bottom line, is what you’re consuming edifying to God? Lots of rhetorical questions here, but food for thought. Pun intended.
Here are some recipes that I have become staples in my diet for long days:
I love suggestions! What are your meal and snack staples? Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe?
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 John 1:2
The Step challenge starts today! I’m super pumped and I hope you are too. For more information about the Step Challenge, check it out my previous post.
For the next month we will walk/run/hike/ski (or whatever) to stay positive and finish this winter season out on a strong note! Tune into the blog for fun fitness ideas, and tag us on social media and use the hashtag #stepwithit to win weekly challenges.
Step With It challenge: Get Stepping!
1) Register directly on our website or follow the links on Facebook or Instagram.
2) Choose a weekly activity or challenge to push yourself!
3) Submit your weekly step totals on Facebook, Instagram, or by email to email@example.com. And or share with the #stepwithit.
4) Enjoy the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and community encouragement!
Join us each Wednesday and submit your weekly step totals on Facebook, Instagram, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The individual with the most steps will be announced on Thursday morning. Don’t forget to tag Furnace Brook on social media with your pictures using the hashtag #stepwithit. Also, tune in to the blog as I’ll be posting words of encouragement, health tips, and recipes!
5 Reasons to Join the Step Challenge
As a scientist, I always ask the question, why? So why do the step challenge with Furnace Brook?
How to track your steps
Whether you have a step tracker or not, keeping track of steps is easy! Consider the following methods for step tracking.
1. Use your fitbit, smartphone, or step tracker to keep track of steps.
2. Log your miles. 1 mile is approximately 2,000 steps.
3. Use the Health App on your phone. Its probably already keeping track of your steps for you!
4. Use an app on your phone to log your steps. Here are some useful ones I have used in the past:
When I started running before Garmin watches and FitBits, I made my mom do this for me ;).
What fitness Apps do you use?
Have you ever done a step challenge before?
What keeps you motivated?
Written by Abigail Elliott
Valentines Day feels like the quaintest, most old fashioned of the public holidays we still enjoy in the United States. Granted, much of what’s old fashioned about it has been smoothed out by the hot irons of commercialism and political correctness. If someone brings one card to school he must bring enough for every classmate (and the teachers to boot). And generally speaking the holiday has more to do with chocolate than with actual romance.
Men: Here’s How to Express your Love without Losing your Masculinity
But romance is a real thing and it’s really worth celebrating.
And Valentines Day seems like a good opportunity to reflect on how a man who wants to love the other gender can do a better job of that without forfeiting his masculinity.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. - Ephesians 5:25
Men: Here are 8 Ways to Love Your Valentine
And, in the spirit of celebrating the spirit of Valentine's Day, we offer these tips for men who love women.
1. Men who love women are respectfully considerate of the ways in which women are different. Loving women means taking frank stock of the ways in which they are different and honoring those differences.
2. Men who love women work hard at being good men.They work to be competent and capable, to be fit and active, and to have the sort of character that makes their physicality and ability a blessing to women and not a cause for discomfort.
Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them." - Proverbs 20:6-7
3. Men who love women reject pornography. If you are a man who loves women there can be no room for pornography in your life.
4. Men who love women expect a lot of women. Love without admiration is really just a fond contempt. And if a man admires women let it be because they are resilient, sacrificial, intuitive, capable, diligent, relational, and strong with the fierce strength of mothers made indomitable by love. Let a man admire women because they bear the image of God with grace and mystery. And if a man’s love for women is full of admiration let his regard for women be full of expectation.
5. Men who love women offer to lead. And they are especially willing to make that offer when the leadership is going to be most costly and thankless. But they are careful to offer and not to insist.
6. Men who love women are emphatically faithful and monogamous in relationship. Men love all women best when they love one woman exclusively.
7. Men who love women accept the leadership of women. Not only that, they follow in such a way as to make the woman leading feel honored for her leadership.
8. Men who love women do things like walk on the side of traffic. They express their love of women with the little gestures of deference and protection that still possess some charm for those who prefer not to take offense.They make these gestures with no aim of being petted for having done so and being careful not to take umbrage when the gesture is rejected.
What are some other things you think are true of the man who loves women? Comment below and let us know!
Written by: Joel Tate
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog