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Church leader seeks to add value to people's lives

Motivational speaker teaches others

Staff writer

“Value-added” is a term that usually is applied to a product that has been enhanced to increase its value before it is offered to customers.

But the Rev. Arlen Busenitz of Burns sees his work as a speaker and pastor as “adding value” to others’ lives as it relates to their personal, business, or work goals.

“If you change 1 percent a day, in 78 days, you will be twice as good as before,” he said. “It’s a compounding effect.”

The 29-year-old pastor leads the congregation of the First Mennonite Church in rural Burns. The church is not affiliated with a conference. Members of the congregation come from as far away as Rosalia, east of El Dorado.

“We believe in the Bible, teach the Bible, and follow the Bible,” Busenitz said.

When he took the helm in 2004, average attendance was in the 60s.

“The people had a heart for God, wanted to grow spiritually and in numbers, and were ready to move forward,” he said.

The next two years saw a spike in attendance, with numbers reaching into the 80s. The numbers have declined somewhat since then because four or five families have moved away, but others have joined the group.

As a pastor, Busenitz focuses on practical preaching, prayer, and getting people involved. The congregation includes several talented musicians, so he introduced a blended worship service, featuring traditional and contemporary music.

Busenitz tries to deliver sermons with enthusiasm, embellishing them with illustrations and presenting them in a compelling, concise manner. This ability is a result of having groomed himself in communication and public speaking since he graduated from high school in 1999.

“God has given me the gift to communicate truth in a practical way,” he said.

He believes that people are called to use their gifts to make an impact in the world, and he practices what he preaches.

In addition to his pastorate, he engages in outside speaking events, writes books and CDs, and maintains a blog. He also conducts workshops on personal communication and public speaking.

Busenitz is a member of Toastmaster’s International, a nonprofit educational organization. He belongs to one of 56 clubs in Kansas made up of small groups of people who regularly meet to practice giving speeches and help each other improve their communication skills.

He has written several books — “Conversation Magic,” “How to Overcome Public Speaking Fear,” and “Captivate the Audience” — and several CDs including, “Become a Better Speaker in One Evening.”

Two years ago, Busenitz wrote a speech, “The Ghost of Marriage.” He presented it at an Arkansas Family Life Conference and on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

He uses the Bible, personal experiences, and knowledge from experts in the field to develop his speeches.

He teaches that to be successful in life — whether it be personal, business, financial, weight, or other types of goals — a person must follow three principles: Be faithful in the small things, go the extra mile, and serve others.

“When you serve others, you add value to their lives,” he said.

He noted that most people know what to do to be successful but they do not know how to do it. He said the key is to “track everything,” depending on what it is, you are trying to change. Be aware, he said.

Busenitz grew up in the Whitewater community. As a home-schooled student, he was allowed to pursue his own interests and work at his own pace. He developed two computer games and wrote pieces on things about which he was passionate.

To earn money for college after graduating from high school, he established a business selling rocks at a farmers’ market from his father’s and uncle’s fields in the Flint Hills. The experience taught him many life lessons.

After pursuing Biblical studies at a Bible college and through distance learning, Busenitz eventually acquired a master’s degree in ministry leadership from Luther Rice University in Atlanta, Ga. He was ordained in 2007.

Busenitz is married and has a 10-month-old daughter. He said he enjoys preaching and teaching:

“I enjoy letting God use me to change people’s lives.”

His blog is available at www.speakinginfo.com.

Last modified Feb. 2, 2011

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