We want to extend this invitation
For you to come along
And become part of our church family
Where you feel that you belong
For you are valued by the Lord
And he has a purpose for you,
He's placed within you special gifts,
He longs for you to use
And we, as a church, would love to see
You grow within your gifts,
For then we all can receive a blessing
With what God's blessed you with.
© By M.S.Lowndes
Clarity recently interviewed Our Digital Minister on Church Leadership.
Interview is below or you can click the photo to read it on Clarity's Page.
Name: J.T. Raclowski
Current title: Digital Minister
Current organization: First United Methodist Church of Wind Gap PA
When I was a child my parents never forced Religion on me. My Father was Catholic and my Mother Protestant. So growing up I had friends that went to all different churches and I started going with them on Sundays. After a while I decided where I felt most comfortable. and started going to a Methodist church in town. When I reached High school I pleaded with my Parents to send me to Catholic school. There I gained a deep understanding of my faith. After High school I was void of religion. I knew what I believed but got too busy with Work and School. I took a Job in PA which was a big move from rural NJ. There I met my Beautiful Wife Lisa and we got Married and had 2 kids of our own. Work was taking me all over PA and every few years we would have to move to where the work was. Finally we moved back to New Jersey. I got a job at Nickelodeon in NYC, and we were able to save up to buy a house. With some help from our families we finally bought a house in Wind Gap PA. We were out for a walk one night and the church in our community was giving out free hotdogs. so we stopped and started chatting with some of them. That Sunday we went to church with them and the rest is history. Now I am the Digital Minister, Head of Missions, on the board of Trustees and My Wife and I are Founding Members of Because You Matter Ministries. We do a Free Community Meal every Thursday with Live Worship Music, Have a Limited Pantry and give out Tons of Free food Monthly.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
The most challenging thing for me as a church leader is to break down my Ideas to get them approved and financed. I only want the best for my church and it's congregation and want the ability to be able to help as many as we can in our community. That being said, Churches have budgets and not everything gets approved. So I have had to learn how to break down what I want to do into smaller sections and propose them one at a time. It takes a lot longer to get them done, but lower cost Items get approved easier, and ultimately we are still making a difference.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
So I own an Information Technology Company called Blue Mountain Network Services. I have been in the Information Technology field for most of my adult life. When I started to go to this church you could not even find this church on Google. I was Speaking to our Pastor one night and he did not know what I do for a living and he expressed a need for a web presence and other IT needs the church had. So I volunteered to help out. I built a website for the church and got them on Google Maps. Next I installed a PA system. Added a Facebook page and YouTube video page. Now with Covid-19. We are virtual and we host every sermon on Sundays on Facebook as well as YouTube and our Website. We also have PayPal Donations setup and 3 different Facebook Groups that have over 150 followers. Our Sunday Sermons are watched by over 1000 people some weeks.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
When I wake in the Morning (5am) I spend about an hour on the Computer updating our church message, Daily Devotional and monitoring our church Facebook groups. I post the Blog once a week on Fridays as well. Then I get ready for the Day, Have Breakfast and Coffee and work My full time Job as a Technical Writer. When that is over I take Care of Needs of My Company, Blue Mountain Network Services. I eat dinner then after Dinner I go through the Church Facebook and Website and make any other updates and changes they need. Then I spend time with my family and our 3 dogs and 10 cats. Then it lights out (11pm). On Sundays I edit the Sermon Videos after Facebook Live and Post to YouTube and the Church Website(firstumcwg.org).
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
This We Believe, The Core of Wesleyan Faith and Practice by William H. Willimon. This book has given me a greater understanding of the Methodist faith as well as how to put it into practice in everyday life. It has impacted my leadership by letting me take a different point of view from my usual and see things in a different light. I understand what John Wesley believed and strive to live up to that standard every day.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most recent Leadership lesson I learned is that my way is not the only way. Everybody has a unique and valid point of view. If I suggest how we should do something and someone has a contradicting point of view or even the same point of view their way might be better than mine. I have learned to step back and listen to all sides before deciding what the best course of action should be.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
Communication, That is the key. When you are doing one thing and no one knows what you are doing that causes issues. Be transparent and let everyone know what you are thinking and what you are doing. Things always go better when everyone is on the same page.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
The Most Meaningful Story that comes to mind thus far as a church leader is that of P.J. She was an Older Woman that has since passed away. She could light up a room with her smile. She was so optimistic. One night during our Because You Matter Meal she came up to me and handed me 2 dollars. She said: Don't ever stop doing this as it is really needed in the community. Us older people need to feel a place to belong. You provide that so take this donation and make it count. P.J. Donated 2 dollars every week until she was returned to our father. God Bless her for the impact she had on my life.
Take a look at First UMC out and about in all the communities of the Slate Belt.
Setting up for the Bangor Halloween Prade