“My most important duty and my greatest challenge as a pastor is to motivate myself and the congregation I lead to pray,” says Bro. Dan Mitchell, pastor of World of Pentecost in Columbus, Indiana. “I am convinced that everything good within a congregation is the product of prayer. Paul Billheimer, in his book, Destined for the Throne, wrote, ‘Prayer is where the action is; works is merely gathering up the results.’ Most methods work with prayer; nothing works without it.”
Pastor Mitchell believes his most important priorities are his relationships with God, his wife, his family, his leaders, his prospective leaders, and the youth. “I am intentional about spending more time with younger ministers and leaders than with my peers. My mentor continually taught me that my debt to him and all my elders in the Gospel should be paid by investing in future generations. Our model for growth and revival comes from Acts 2:42, ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…’”
Pastor Mitchell says, “Every pastor must discern what is important to God, rather than what is important to his friends, fellow ministers, and influential congregants. Ultimately, we will each give an account to God for what we teach and preach; our teaching must be Apostolic.”
Home Bible studies are also a priority. “We view home Bible studies as a Biblical principle, rather than a method,” he said. “A group of passionate, scholarly leaders in our congregation dedicated 18 months to research and develop a very effective, concise home Bible study that has ignited our current growth. Our focus in this Bible study, Keys to Christ, is to lead the seeker directly to salvation while conviction is present. It is formatted so that a sixth-grader can teach it effectively.”
Pastor Mitchell continues with, “Another application of Acts 2:42 is Care Ministry which provides fellowship, encourages unity and caring while also promoting accountability.”
Worship is considered one of the most important facets of the World of Pentecost. “We are a body that believes in great worship,” he said. “There is no excuse for an Apostolic church to not have powerful, Apostolic worship.
“As a pastor, one of the few things about which I am dogmatic is that each Sunday service is formatted to have powerful, Pentecostal worship. No unnecessary preliminaries are allowed. In our congregation, a worship leader’s obligation is simply to lead worship, rather than tell stories or preach. He is more of a ‘traffic director’ than a pulpiteer. Outside of the sermon, very few words are spoken over our pulpit. It is all about God, and not about the leader or the singer. Our goal is that the worship leader becomes invisible, and that God be magnified. During my first week in Columbus, God spoke to me and said, ‘If you will give them a drink, they will take your bread.’ The water of the Spirit makes the bread of the Word palatable.
“Almost every Sunday at the World of Pentecost, people will fill the altar two or three times before the sermon is preached. This ‘open altar’ concept has enabled people to be healed, filled with the Holy Ghost, and transformed while the Spirit flows through the sanctuary.”
Leadership and Promoting Involvement
Bro. Mitchell says he meets with the staff weekly and with team leaders monthly. In these meetings they review goals, address departmental planning, integrate calendars and share praise reports.
For evangelism and outreach, “Our goal is 100 percent participation; we have not reached that yet.”
To promote involvement, Bro. Mitchell teaches “a discipleship course that culminates in our Festival of Servanthood, where new converts are connected with all departmental team leaders and encouraged to engage in ministry.”
Planning for the Future
Bro. Mitchell has formulated a plan for the future, rather than instant success. “I make decisions based on the big picture,” he said. “I ask: How will what I do or say today affect the church and each member in 10 years?”
Pastor Mitchell believes in transparent pastoring. “While ministering with pastoral authority, I purpose to be transparent about my humanity. People already know the real me; acknowledging this strengthens, rather than weakens, my ability to lead.
“I most enjoy preaching about mercy and the family. Our target demographic is 18-30 years old. As a result, almost 25 percent of our congregation is within this range. Fifty percent of our Spirit-filled membership is 30 or under. Most churches aim for the ‘money,’ which is why so many of our congregations are aging. We aim for the future. This is also apparent in our leaders; the majority of our leadership is under 45.
“Our building is 24,000 square feet and seats 650 in the sanctuary. We presently have a Capital Campaign Finance and Building Committee that is meeting with architects to expand our facilities. Currently, our average attendance is approximately 500.”
Pastor Mitchell grew up in Quincy, Illinois in the home mission’s church his parents, Charles and Jean Mitchell, built. “My grandfather, Louis Mitchell, had baptized over 100 souls in the Mississippi River approximately 20 years before our family started the church,” he said. “The nearest Apostolic church in western Illinois was approximately 90 miles away. I was 10 when I received the Holy Ghost at the Illinois District camp meeting.”
Bro. Mitchell assumed responsibility at a very early age. “I started singing solos at four, won all attendance drives, and became Sunday School Secretary at 12. I preached my first youth revival outside of my home church at 13 in Du Quoin, Illinois at a church pastored by Bro. Charles McKinnies. I was elected to the Illinois District Youth Board at 16 before I had obtained a driver’s license.
“My grandfather, Bro. Louis Mitchell, my father, Bro. Charles Mitchell, my mother, Jean Mitchell, my uncle and mentor, Bro. Wayne C. Mitchell, and Bro. Sam Latta, cousin and world missionary are the individuals that influenced my ministry the most as a young man.”
Pastor Mitchell was nine years old when he first felt a call to the ministry. “I attended ABI, and met my soul mate, JoAnn Shilling. I served as Associate Pastor for six years in Silvis, Illinois. We accepted the pastorate in Columbus, Indiana in 1979.”
The church was started in 1935 and was decimated by the Latter Rain movement in the 1950s. “Crawford Coon, a good and honorable man, preceded me as pastor. There were 63 voting members at our election, and the Sunday School attendance our first Sunday was 132. At our first service we found a congregation of good people who were very fractured, fragmented, and traditional. A remnant of those same people believed in me and enabled us to become the church we are today.”
“From January 1 through January 22, 2012, we devoted ourselves to 21 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset,” said Bro. Mitchell. “This was coupled with two prayer meetings each day. At the close of the first week of fasting and prayer, we invited Evangelist George Hurt who ministered powerfully in prophetic giftings. During the next three weeks, multitudes of tumors disappeared, ear drums grew back and hearing was restored, spinal injuries were healed, and many were baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost. It was possibly the best 30 days in the history of our church.”
By Christina Li
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