hope for churches in stress



Barnabas Initiatives assists churches in times of stress. In our consulting, we actively listen to individuals and/or groups in the church. Our aim is to discern and articulate achievable and sustainable action steps to move the church toward healthy life and mission. Wherever possible, we apply the hopes, insights, and skills of people already in the church (or nearby churches) as the primary building blocks for revitalization.


The following stories describe outcomes in some of the churches that Barnabas Initiatives has assisted in consultations. In a sense, these stories are “case studies” of the work of Barnabas Initiatives. They illustrate the varying ways that this ministry endeavors to strengthen the life and mission of churches under duress.

September 15, 2018

A flourishing church in southern Lancaster County (Pa.) hit a rough patch. In quick succession, the church lost three pastors, each time with disheartening decreases in attendance, finances, and confidence. 

The residual strength of the “core” congregation provided a foundation for recovery. The governing board mobilized a capable team of lay preachers and leaders. The board also engaged with a consultant to double-check their...

August 1, 2018

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes wrote: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: . . . [such as] a time to heal (3:1-3).

Two years ago, a church in south-central Pennsylvania was racked by conflict. As a result of sharp disagreement about a pastor’s reappointment, people were estranged, grieving the departures of friends, and demoralized.

A seasoned churchman was brought in to chair the gover...

May 1, 2018

Greg Starr, pastor of New Life Church of Hershey (Pa.), customized an approach to setting direction that fits New Life. With his leadership team, Greg considered several envisioning approaches (see Setting Direction I, II, and III) and melded them into one that engages the whole church.

A first step was to invite everyone in the church to complete a survey. Since the questions themselves can influence responses, Greg and t...

October 1, 2017

After 180 years, Washington Boro (Pa.) Church of God is like an old apple tree. The church has matured over the decades. It is deeply rooted. It is still bearing fruit. Yet people are wondering whether the church has a viable future. To answer this question, the church is mulling over possibilities.

Nurture. Washington Boro is a church of mostly older adults. So one option is to specialize in ministry to seniors. This would req...

April 1, 2017

Montoursville (Pa.) BIC wants to serve broken and neglected people. As a smaller church, they excel in caring for one another. But how, they have asked, can they also engage their community?

Looking at themselves closely, they realized that individuals in the church are already engaged in a wide range of regional, national, and global issues.

Rich, Jo, and LuAnn lead Bible studies for the elderly. Craig and Brenda stir up volunt...

February 17, 2017

After an extended season of growth, Millersville (Pa.) Brethren in Christ Church encountered a series of setbacks, coming in quick succession. 

As the church and its leaders were called upon to use their time and energy in order to work through these issues, other ministry areas lost momentum, and a sense of discouragement began to set in.

Some distresses require a major overhaul. At other times, as church leaders at Miller...

February 1, 2017

In 2007, New Trail Fellowship near Abilene (Ks.) was launched to serve the western heritage community of the Smoky Valley Region by reaching the uncommitted for Christ.

For five years the new church thrived. Then misunderstandings occurred. Factions developed within the fellowship and the young church was in real danger of collapse.

The pastor and remaining people were committed to the founding vision and to caring for people wh...

January 1, 2017

One way to ease the stress of transition is to prepare in advance (Mt.16:21; Jn. 14-17).  

After 23 years, the pastor of Highland Park Community Church in Dublin (Va.) announced his voluntary retirement in six months. Church leaders took prompt action to reduce the normal strains of healthy transition to the extent possible.

The whole church was invited to participate in a survey. Then 25 persons met for a working retreat i...

December 15, 2016

For better or worse, your church is being evaluated every Sunday. On the way home, someone will ask, “What did you think of the sermon?” Or “How was children’s church?”

Since evaluation is already occurring spontaneously, the Refton (Pa.) BIC Church decided to initiate an annual church-wide evaluation so the whole congregation could benefit.

Church leaders developed "yardsticks" for measurement. They restated their purpose and...

November 1, 2016

The phrase “one another” is used 100 times in the New Testament. Yet mutual assistance among churches can be a rare occurrence in a North American culture that values independence over interdependence. 

For one glorious day, the Real Life Church of God in East Petersburg (Pa.) was an astonished (and grateful) recipient of churches helping one another. 

This small church, with a worship attendance of 35-40, has a good facili...

April 15, 2015

In formatting documents, text and images can be resized to fit available space. Similarly, daunting tasks can be “fit to size” for smaller churches. 

To cite one instance, New Beginnings Church in Ephrata (Pa.) is introducing a creative way to leverage the close-knit relationships in a smaller church to identify, equip, and deploy new workers and leaders.

First, current leaders take time each year to identify potential work...

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"Thank you very much  for your preaching and presence at New Life in August! So much appreciated!"

Greg Starr, pastor

New Life Church of Hershey

September, 2019

"When a much loved lead pastor moves on, a local church can often find itself in an uncertain season and mission may stall.  We were blessed by Warren’s service as Interim Pastor, a service available to us through Barnabas Initiatives.  Warren led with grace, wisdom, and an encouraging spirit and helped to bridge that interim gap as seamlessly as possible.  His “Action Steps” to the Leadership Team and his friendship and counsel to me personally as Secretary of the Leadership Team were invaluable.  Warren’s many years of varied ministry serves him well in his consultations.”

Dave Witmer 

Speedwell Heights BIC

JUne, 2018

"You were able to come along side the pastor and support him during the conflict. This assisted him to discover healing and wholeness and to continue in the pastorate with a passion for ministry."

Chuck Naylor 

Free Grace BIC

August, 2018

"BIC Canada is deeply grateful to Barnabas Initiatives and to Warren for his help with a difficult, emotional situation.  He helped a church, a pastoral family, and the denomination with grace, kindness and love.  His wise insight, advice and kindness in the situation were deeply appreciated.  I would highly recommend Warren and Barnabas Initiatives to churches looking for help, assistance, advice and direction."

Doug Sider

Director, BIC Canada

May, 2017

"I am so glad we decided to walk this journey with Warren and Barnabas Initiatives.

"Warren sat and listened to us, but even more, he listened to what the Spirit was saying to our church.  As a result, we walked away with practical next steps that we are eager to 

employ within the life of our church."

Pastor Chris Freet 

Millersville (Pa.) BIC 

February, 2017

"I want to thank Warren for taking the time to meet with me and, afterward, to write a summary of our conversation. Our meeting was very productive and very beneficial to me."


Pastor John Buhr

Fredericksburg (Pa.)

Baptist Church

January, 2015

"I know God put in motion, through Warren, something that could only happen with God's direction, not mine, and we are blessed because we listened to Him."

Bryan Jenkins

council chair,

Real Life Church of God

East Petersburg, Pa.

October, 2016

"New Trail is back on its feet, tottering somewhat, but getting stronger! The Holy Spirit is revealing Himself through peace and love that is greater than we have ever seen before in this body. You locked your arms into ours and lifted us up and encouraged us to walk in the power of our Lord!" 


  Pastor Stan Norman

and the Leadership Council

New Trail Fellowship

 Abilene (Ks.)

April, 2015

"I am grateful for the work of Warren Hoffman and Barnabas Initiatives.  He has served multiple churches in our area and each time the result has been the local church serving with greater effectiveness in the mission to which Jesus is calling them."

Bryan Hoke

Bishop of the Atlantic

Conference, BIC U.S.

February , 2016

"Barnabas Initiatives provides a very significant consulting service, particularly to smaller congregations and ministries. Warren possesses a genuine understanding of the unique mission, value and challenges of smaller churches and ministries. His experience as missionary, pastor and general church executive provide a rich pool from which he can draw. Most important, his passionate relationship with Jesus Christ, sensitive listening to the Spirit of God and gentle spirit are invaluable in creating an atmosphere for congregational listening and willingness to take significant faith steps."


   Pastor Joe Hyatt

New Beginnings Church

Ephrata (Pa.)

May, 2015

"I would greatly recommend Barnabas Initiatives to any Pastor that is seeking God’s future direction and feels an assessment of their ministry is needed. Warren can be trusted with God’s flock and is a wonderful encouragement to the pastor in this journey." 


Pastor Gary Smith

  Agape Fellowship Church

York (Pa.)

July, 2015

"It was our pleasure to have you and Connie share with us at our recent one-day retreat for pastors and spouses. Those that I have talked to since the retreat expressed great appreciation for your teaching. I would echo that. My wife commented on what a good teacher you are and how well you held her attention. I greatly appreciated the perspective you brought to familiar Bible stories and passages."  


Richard Mininger

Bishop, Harrisburg District

Lancaster Mennonite Conference

March, 2016

"I wholeheartedly recommend my friend Warren Hoffman and his Barnabas Initiatives."


Perry Engle 

Bishop of the Midwest and Pacific Conferences, BIC U.S.

December, 2014

Barnabas Initiatives is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donors are invited to contribute. Client churches are asked to reimburse expenses, but are not assessed a fee for service. Instead, as they are able, churches are asked to consider a per diem or customized contribution. 

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P.O. Box 589

Elizabethtown, PA 17022



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