Our regional Church Development Team used John to facilitate a retreat, motivate our group, and help us focus our vision. Our experience working with him prior to the event was wonderful. He was prompt in replies and accommodating to the max. And our retreat itself was awesome. John has a wide breadth of knowledge, and he is a great listener. His work over three days with our team will be impacting us for a long time to come. His presentation is peppered with humor and humility, but he speaks with reason and authority. He prayed with our group in powerful, meaningful ways. He guided us to identify and refine a new set of priorities; and he helped us focus "like a laser beam" on a vision for our team and its work.
John gave himself to us totally and never seemed rushed or distracted. I heartily recommend John to any local church or judicatory group needing friendly, competent, and seasoned guidance for developing its leaders and its vision.
Rev. Barry M. Bordenkircher
Minister for Nurture & Development
Northwest Ohio Association, United Church of Christ
It was a blessing to have you with us at Druid Hills. I pray that you are well rested.... Sunday was incredible. The Spirit of God is so alive in this congregation. …I am full to over flowing. I thank God for your Spirit and the seeds that you planted here. We know that this is the day of new beginnings. I love the image of a new book. We are having a healing service on Pentecost Sunday and the first book of Druid Hills is going to be closed. We will remember with great joy but will be far to busy with the new one to linger very long.
Druid Hills United Methodist Church
John Laster is one of the most knowledgeable, resourceful, and visionary experts that I know in the field of congregational ministries. He not only knows how to make your ministries more effective; he knows how to help you find answers to your church's most challenging program problems. You will benefit from your work with him.
Dr. Charles Siburt
Associate Dean for Ministry Programs and Services
Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University
As I look back over the last year since the consultation I am amazed. I believe that our time together has already been a catalyst for significant re-focus and renewal in our mission. Your time here helped us to better understand who we really are, where we need to go, and how we can get started down that path. We especially appreciate that you gave guidance and answers that arose out of our unique community and situation, not just answers that could be given to anyone anywhere.
To speak personally, the conversations we had before, during and after the consultation process have been catalyst for change and growth in my leadership of the congregation. The supportive challenges drove me to reflect on my inner thoughts and feelings about leadership, and to examine how I acted as a leader, to see if it lined up with what the mission really needed. I also have become much clearer about what my calling is here at FAITH, and how I can live that out effectively.
Thanks! For giving of your time, for being away from your family and for investing in ministries for the sake of Jesus and his kingdom, and for the people he loves. I appreciate you.
Faith Lutheran Church
John Laster is one of the more gifted people I have seen in a long time. He has a gift for consulting that will benefit any church.
Port Aransas, Texas
John Laster conducted a leadership team retreat for us at Lafayette. We needed help bringing things into focus and working out our role as a leadership team.
John tells it like it is! His conversational style and his willingness to say the hard things when needed inspire confidence. His experience in handling a wide variety of needs was obvious.
Lafayette Church of Christ
St. Louis, MO
John's ability to perceive leverage points for change, his insightful analysis and his wealth of experience combine to make his skills laser sharp and beneficial to congregations desiring to grow. He is a transformational leader who can help your congregation understand your past, appreciate your present, and proactively look toward your future.
Jeffrey H. Patton
Christian Conseling Clinic Inc
I was in Columbus this past week and had the blessing of being in the afternoon workshop on "Growing Intentional Disciples." I wanted to thank you for your part in that great day. When I got there in the morning, I really couldn't remember what I'd signed up for or why. I soon found out that God had helped with 99.9% of the choosing. I'm serving a United Methodist Congregation that has experienced the joys and frustrations of the UMC roller coaster ride of changing pastors. One of my goals was to help them be more of a lay driven congregation. Between Jeff Patton's workshop in the morning and yours in the afternoon I not only got inspired, but also came away with some nice tools to use. The whole day was great, but most of all, I can't get your challenge out of my mind, "What am I going to do with what I got?" Thanks, God bless, and may God's light continue to shine on, in, and through you.
I wanted to briefly touch base and tell you how much I appreciate you and your efforts last week. I have talked with a lot of the church leaders who participated, and have yet to hear anything less than glowing comments about you and the way that you handled our situation...what I did not count on was coming away with an entirely new and exciting perspective on how we should be doing God's work as a church. I knew that would be part of the package, but I really wasn't looking forward to changing my ideas or altering some of the comfortable ways that we do things. I just wanted to carry out my third year as Ad Council Chair and then fade into the woodwork for awhile.
I still may relinquish the title after this year, but I don't think there's going to be any fading. I'm much more interested in integrating and empowering and training and sending forth and growing than I ever thought that I would be. I can't thank you enough for making this something that I want to be a part of, rather than something that I want to try to find a way to get out of.
Administrative Council Chair
St. Mark's UMC
I realize that, after three weeks, I am for you a distant memory back in at First Christian in Fayetteville, but rest assured that you are still very much at the center of our thoughts, conversations, and maybe even actions! I, for one, am very excited about the future of FCC, and am thankful that you came our way. As I told you at the time, you were "just whom we needed."
John, your style was magnificent. I took both paper and mental notes.
And on and on. I loved it. That's why I came to several of the "meal" sessions.
- You used the "silent pause" like a master.
- You paraphrased, the ultimate compliment to the speaker.
- You were progressively more candid as we grew to trust you.
- You frankly acknowledged the hard questions, and admitted it when you choose to sidestep them...an honest technique, far better than double talk.
- You faced difficult personnel issues squarely, and kept the dialogue going until you won people over.
- You taught us that finances and staff are not an excuse.
- You always seemed fresh, even when we knew you were dead tired.
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Our time with John Laster was well spent. John prepared ahead of time to get to know our congregation and then engaged us in two stimulating and stretching interactive sessions examining our church culture, values and direction. While he did provide practical "how-to's" & "next steps" - our benefit was being equipped to continue our process of transformation with a more accurate compass of navigating the dynamics of church life in our current culture.
Minister of Education
Turnpike Church of Christ
Grand Prairie, Texas
The congregation at Independence Christian Church had a history of struggles internally which repeatedly resulted in ministers leaving after short pastorates. The situation had arisen again, however, the changing membership rose up and demanded the minister not leave. Pastor and elders went to the Scriptures and to their knees in search of God's plan for the congregation. Collectively we were led to John Laster who accepted the challenge to work with the leaders and the congregation. He truly is a man after God's own heart and immediately faced the task before him. John has a heart for equipping leadership in churches to connect with Jesus. He correctly identified major conflicts immediately and worked tirelessly to seek Jesus on our behalf. The Senior Leadership Team was formed and has successfully followed his recommendations to identify Mission, Values, Vision, and Beliefs. John has a compassionate heart for congregations that are needing direction. John demonstrates his personal knowledge of Jesus as he coaches. He is well grounded in the scriptures and practices prayer in his personal life. My life has changed since this experience and I was privileged to have him as a guest in my home during the four day on-site sessions. Our church has a new mission and a new spirit because of his teaching "Leaders to be Leaders". John was a God chosen servant for our situation.
Chairperson of the Elders
Independence Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
"John is a pastor to Pastors."
Bonne Terre, Missouri
I first met John when I was selected to act as co-chair for our building stewardship campaign. At the time I had been a member of St. Andrews for less than a year, was honored to be asked to serve in this capacity, and worried how the “new, old guy” would lead an effort to raise funds in a congregation predominantly composed of young families with small children. John’s approach to this conundrum was very simple and effective; he explained the role and then asked me to “pray about it.” Within a week I contacted John and accepted the calling. This first encounter was indicative of John’s very effective methodology I observed many times throughout the campaign whereby everything is well organized, evaluated, and planned…then turned over to God to act as the catalyst for execution.
I have a significant business background and have created and led many high performance teams in my career. Based on this, you can image how I felt when I received; ‘another consultants binder on how to get the job done.’ Quickly I realized this was different and something special. I watched John masterfully guide our group to an understanding of the process, train us along the way, and at the appropriate time, step aside, allowing each member of the Steering Team to accomplish the goal in their own unique way. While he empowered each team member to lead their project segment, he was always available to provide coaching, counseling, and collaboration, assuring we were never alone. What a refreshing approach, a coach rather than a supervisor. His approach is personal, faith based, and effective.
In summary, I highly recommend John Laster. He provided my congregation with the tools, training, and consultation that resulted in our campaign exceeding a goal to raise $450,000…not bad for a young church with young families in a tough economy.
Stewardship Campaign Co-Chairman
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
Mt. Airy, Maryland
As Administrative Board Chairman of Centenary United Methodist, I am
writing to express our appreciation and pleasure with John Laster and
his handling of our recent capital campaign.
John showed patience, flexibility, and unfailing good humor throughout the process. What began as a campaign with a November deadline morphed into February, culminating in a warm, pleasant, well-attended Reunion Dinner. John was there, of course, impressing everyone with his knowledge and his genuine personality.
In addition, John brought key qualities that greatly contributed to the incredible success of the campaign.His ability to patiently listen to our discussions as we talked our way through to solutions, then to make insightful, intelligent comments, helped us plot a successful course through to a conclusion beyond what any of us dared to dream.
The light of God definitely shines through the words and actions of this caring, considerate man. He has represented your company well. Thank you for sending him to us.
Chairman, Administrative Board
Centenary United Methodist Church
Bonne Terre, Missouri
"Imminently practical, direct, well presented, and chock-full of wisdom....This is essential reading for church leaders from any polity, especially leadership teams who find themselves stuck or bogging down."
Highland Oaks Church of Christ
All of us have benefited greatly from your thoughtful message about vision discernment. He used it when he talked to the Next Step team about how to proceed. Thank you again for giving us just what we needed to clarify our thinking and help us move to the next step.
Dear Friends in Christ,
From the moment we interviewed consultants to conduct our capital campaign, everything about John Laster and the Horizons Stewardship process of fundraising intrigued us. Our last capital campaign was conducted over 20 years ago, and left a very negative impact on a segment of our congregation. We needed someone we could trust to conduct this campaign. John gained our respect quickly with his gentle confidence and timely wisdom. In his competent work, he never lost our confidence. We are absolutely certain that we will invite John to conduct our next campaign.
We chose to work with John because he seemed to be a person grounded in faith, and our impressions were correct. John encouraged a habit of prayerful discernment as he walked with me to invite people into leadership positions within the campaign. The tasks of the campaign were divided over a number of leaders, creating a broad base of people intimately involved in the exciting work of carrying the vision and raising funds to support that vision. The process that John led us through was well laid out. Each leader received a comprehensive guidebook that enabled them to track their own work and the overall project’s progress. With the leaders of our campaign, John struck a beautiful balance between being available to them individually for guidance and direction, and allowing the leader’s creativity and expertise to shine through their work. Perhaps the most telling aspect of our success in working with John and the Horizons Stewardship process was the fact that every one of the leaders felt the experience was positive enough that they would serve in such a role again.
John was honest with us in every aspect of the project, even when he knew it was not what we wanted to hear. Every time John challenged our work, it made our end product better. The campaign was a huge success, not only as we blew past our stretch goal to raise $506,000, but also in building congregational confidence in its own ability to carry out the mission that God had given us. A major concern before beginning the campaign was finding enough people willing to lead and participate. The Horizons process helped us succeed in calling people forth according to their gifts and skills, training them to accomplish the task at hand, and preparing them for the job by aiding them in understanding the overall vision for the campaign and the church.
While any campaign is a tremendous amount of work for the pastor of a church, the process of involving the congregation to the degree that Horizons’ does, as well as the way in which people are given what they need to carry out that work, made my tasks much more manageable. I was able to focus on casting a vision and carrying that vision forward. John offered his personal coaching skills through this process and every time he was in town worked consistently with me on other challenges facing the church. John made himself readily available for me whenever questions or difficulties arose, even those peripherally related to the campaign. With John physically present to us about every 2 weeks, and readily available by phone and email, there was never a time I felt like I was alone in this process. John supported me in the capital campaign, challenged me to think more concretely about the mission and vision, and gave me timely words of wisdom and grace as the need arose. By the end of the campaign, John became one of those voices of wisdom that will continue to echo in my head as decisions need to be made.
I highly recommend Horizons Stewardship as a company and John Laster, their consultant, in particular. From the feasibility study, to calling forth leaders, to securing upfront gifts from major donors, to celebrating the results of the campaign, the process worked perfectly. John conducted all his work from a place of faith, grounded in prayer, with a deep passion to see Homestead Church succeed in its mission for the sake of the Kingdom. Homestead Church could not have been more blessed by God than to work with John Laster and Horizons Stewardship.
In the peace of Christ,
Rev. Becky Jo Thilges, Lead Pastor
Rev. Becky Jo Thilges
Homestead United Methodist Church
You challenged us to think, to question, and to come to our own conclusions. You frustrated the heck out of me sometimes but you did it in a way that helped me to grow….
I appreciate the work that you did here in Jenks. I pray that God will continue to use you to challenge others, to get them to ask questions, to get them to think outside the proverbial box. You were a blessing to me and others here and I want to say THANK YOU for your hard work.
As a pastor working on a vision and building campaign for the first time in his career I had a lot of apprehension and uncertainty about the process, and about making the campaign successful. Most importantly, I wanted to communicate to the church the vision God had given us and how the campaign would address that vision. Enter John Laster of Horizons Stewardship. John brought a great sense of stability to the process for myself and for the whole campaign steering team. It was obvious he had done this before, yet he helped us discover how to best do it for ourselves – no cookie cutter program forced upon us! Horizons helped us develop our process using their framework. The result was a commitment of pledges exceeding our expectations. We were greatly blessed by Horizons work, and the good news for us is that they continue to work with us even beyond the initial commitment. I thank God for Horizons and John Laster.
Asbury United Methodist Church
I've been meaning to get back to you with a comment on John Laster's work at Messiah Church in Plymouth, MN. I don't know if Steve Richards (Senior Pastor) has said anything to you about John's engagement with us, but I've been very positively impressed with what John observed, offered, suggested, and so on. I think John came to us at a needed time and hopefully we can move forward in a big way for several years with what he's brought us. I think some were skeptical of the value a consultant could provide, but I see the potential for tremendous benefits beyond the cost of the consulting services John provided. I give thanks for his ministry in helping churches.
Messiah United Methodist Church
John Laster has been a valuable resource to Utley Brothers, Inc. Leveraging his years of experience of working with organization leaders and team dynamics has helped sharpen our printing company’s clarity and focus.