Making The Most of Summer

What are your plans this summer? I just don’t mean your vacation plans (although I hope you have them!) or the event on the church calendar. Summertime presents an opportunity for intentional personal development. Have you considered making a plan for this summer to improve or grow in your personal and professional life?

This month, three leaders from our district were asked to respond to two questions about their improvement plans for this summer. Our participants are:

Kathleen Bratun   Executive Pastor  The Connection Church Lake Forest CA

Kathleen Bratun
Executive Pastor
The Connection Church
Lake Forest CA

Dennis Evangelisto   Senior Pastor  New Life Church Redlands CA

Dennis Evangelisto
Senior Pastor
New Life Church
Redlands CA

Ken Gibson   Lead Pastor  Point Of Grace Church Alta Loma, California

Ken Gibson
Lead Pastor
Point Of Grace Church
Alta Loma, California

The questions they were asked are:

  1. “What area of your professional life (as a leader) would you like to improve in the next 6 months, and what resource(s) are you going to use to help you?”; and

  2. “What area of your personal life would you like to improve in the next 6 months? What resource(s) are you going to use to help you in it?”

We hope you find some encouragement and motivation from these three leaders giving us a look into their growth plans.

Q: “What area of my professional life (as a leader) would I like to improve in the next 6 months, and what resources am I going to use to help me?


In the next few months I would like to prepare to better assist the community in times of crisis since it is often during these times that people need a pastor to pray with them and support them the most.

I plan to read the book "Loving your City," by Timothy Keller to continue to grow in fresh perspectives of how to reach my community with the Gospel (ed. note: for an overview of the concepts in this book, watch Dr. Keller’s presentation “How Does The Church Love The City?” here - ). Additionally, to prepare for moments of crisis I will participate in the next Community Emergency Preparedness Academy held by our city. This 6 week course provides multi agency training from the City, OC Sheriff and OC Fire Authority, giving hands on experience of how to respond in an emergency. This course will teach how to use an AED, search and rescue tactics, and how to respond to terrorism.  Should a crisis arise during a church service I believe this preparation will help protect and assist our church in an emergency. If an incident should happen while I'm out in the community or at home, I'll be prepared to assist my community and neighbors. 


Raising up the next generation of preachers has become a passion for me. Over the last few years I have begun working with two young adults (both 20 years old). As well as working with our congregation to receive them. They have preached; one five and the other eight times. Both have preached in my absence. You might say, “Victory,” right? The problem is I can get distracted from giving them the attention and the mentoring that could help them progress. I “feel” like I’m not investing in them properly or that I’m giving them just enough to continue, but not excel. This is not acceptable.

It is my goal to help each young adult that is called to ministry to blossom into a mighty man or woman of God who will preach God’s word with strong conviction, with passion, in truth and with clarity. At the moment, I connect with a group of pastors on a monthly basis. I have not shared this situation with them. I want to be open and honest with them about my feelings and my need for their wisdom on this matter. Over the next six months I would like to openly share with these pastors, hear their wisdom, and allow this area of leadership to be strengthened in my life. My accountability partner is also a great source of wisdom. The book, “Beholding & Proclaiming,” by Kristian Hernandez is a great help as well.


As one who has earned three degrees, I have always been open to the idea of personal and professional improvement. However, as I mature in life I am learning to be a bit more strategic as to where my focus should be. As a vocational Pastor I’m always looking for tools, resources and mentoring opportunities to make me better as a shepherd. However, more recently I sense a leading toward being a better leader in our church, our community and our movement. As society moves further away for Christian values and influence I believe God is stirring up the Apostle’s Gift of our day to not only influence but to lead cultural change. As a result, I have been working on becoming much more productive as a visionary leader in this revived move of God. A couple of the resources that I am currently working through are “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and the “High Performance Planner” by Brendon Burchard. I am also completing necessary preparation to enter the January 2020 cohort for the MASL Program at Life Pacific University.  

2) What area of your personal life would you like to improve in the next 6 months and what resource(s) are you going to use to help you in it?


While it appears that most Pastors that I encounter at a similar stage in life are looking to do less, I have this crazy urge to do more. This mindset has become problematic for me personally because after 20 years of pastoral ministry the lines between my professional and personal life have become blurred and at times nonexistent.  Simple things such as date night, recreation, vacation or just relaxing can easily be interrupted for the “necessity” of ministry. Even after a moving and eye opening 3 days at a Pastor Sabbatical Retreat (PSR), the struggle of Sabbath and the reality of Sabbatical continue to be a challenge for me, but I “Press On” (Ed. note: To learn more about the Pastoral Sabbatical Retreat being offered by the PSWD, click here - Being raised without the affirmation and validation of a father, I still fall into the enemy’s trap of proving my worth and finding acceptance through performance. The Pure Love and Basic Core teachings by Beth Barone have been super helpful in understanding and navigating a much needed change of mindset. Also, this summer I plan to go through Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. The High Performance Planner has proven to be a good tool for me to bring intentionality and balance between my professional and personal life. And being married to a loving, supportive and amazing wife on this journey to purpose doesn’t hurt!


One area of my personal life I would like to grow in is intentionally in my free time. I am an organized person, but the busyness of raising three kids, pastoring and running a business means that sometimes I go from one task to another. The daily activities of my children and work meetings run my schedule. I am going to choose to be intentional about what I do, beginning by evaluating what I say "yes" to. While some items are fixtures that must be done each week, I know that other things can wait. I'm going to use my calendar as a tool to create blocks of family/free time. Being intentional with my time will help me to be more present in each task and leave less of a feeling of being hurried. I asked my two older children to make a list of things they want to do this summer, and like planning a vacation we are going to schedule in some fun during the upcoming ten weeks. I don't want another summer to fly by and then in August feel like we were so busy that we missed it. I think this approach will allow me to


Our son is 20 and our daughter is 22 (and married). I have had to navigate my relationship and parenting skills toward them during each new phase of life. This “adult” phase is unique and is more “hands off” than I’m used to. I am learning to trust the Lord with the relationship I have built with my children and trust them to make life decisions independent of my input (unless asked). So, as a dad of young adults, I would like to improve my parenting skills by being supportive of their dreams, respectful of their decisions, and available for input.

To improve this area of my personal life I will be more intentional to “hear” my son and daughter and not just give advice. I will be honest with my accountability partner (his three children are twenty years older than mine), and receive the wisdom that he has learned. I will also receive the wisdom God has given my wife as we go through this together.