Monday, February 27, 2012


References - Chet Gladkowski

“Chet knows how to 'rightly divide the Word of truth.' Many people give a surface insight into the Word, but God has given Chet the ability to truly bring out the meaning in His Word.”
Ellis F. Goldstein, Director
Campus Crusade for Christ, Collingville CT

“A relevant communicator of truth with a compassion for people, Chet has a strong desire to share the love of Christ through Biblical understanding. He has a heart for people and even greater heart for God and His Word.  Chet knows people and his material, but most importantly he knows Jesus!”
Bruce Reynolds, Director of Ministries
Cornerstone Church, St. Pete FL

“Chet is an extremely gifted, fun and motivating teacher of God's eternal truth.  He makes the Bible come alive and prepares people for change.”
Brian Phipps, GROW Pastor
Westside Family Church, Kansas City KS

"Appreciate Chet's spirit, knowledge and communication skills.  You blessed us!"
Scott Markley, Lead Pastor
First Baptist Church of Lake Wales FL

“Chet’s communication is clear and passionate. His spirit of love mixed with commitment to truth is refreshing.  He clearly presented Jesus and what He has done for us. I certainly recommend Chet to others.” 
Pastor Mark James
Church of the Nazarene, Oxford PA

“Chet’s gift for bringing everyday moments in to God's focus is inspirational. Chet's knowledge of scripture and its application to our lives is a joy to discover!” 
Shelley Brandon, Allendale MI

“Chet continues to be my "go to" person when I have a question about scripture or faith related issues.  His common sense approach to God's Word is just what I need.  God is using Chet to speak His truth, always directing me to scripture for answers.  He truly believes God's answers are the only answers we should seek.”
Karen Williams, Lake Wales FL

“Chet has a passion for studying, teaching and communicating the truths of scripture with a focus on Christ.  Chet introduces many concepts by sharing movie clips, quotations, and sometimes humorous events.  You won't be bored when sitting under Chet's teaching!”
Beth Rudolph

Response from Understanding Mormonism

“Chet is a man with a passion!  He loves the Lord, loves His church and loves sharing with God’s people.  His class on Understanding Mormonism was well received, sparked a great deal of interest and evoked many positive comments.  Understanding Mormonism would be a great blessing to any church or organization.”
Tim Storms, Associate Pastor
Christ Community Church, Winter Haven FL

Understanding Mormonism prompted many thoughts and questions to pursue...most of all, our need to understand faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Creator.”
Don Aldrich

“We are at a loss tell you how much we enjoyed Understanding Mormonism.
Charlie & Barb Lane

“We enjoyed Understanding Mormonism VERY much.  We would sit in Chet's class anytime.”
Ray & Wilma Hewlett

“Really enjoyed Understanding Mormonism. Chet does an excellent job in presentation and keeping the discussion alive and moving.
Bill Whitmire



From my earliest memories, I was always going to church. Being raised in Baltimore Maryland, you almost can't help it. I once heard a statistic that Baltimore had more churches per capita than any other city in North America. I don't know if it's true or not, but it certainly seemed that way. Every Saturday morning, we easily drove by 20 churches as we visited our grandparents.

When it came to going to church, I had it down cold. I knew all the right things to say and do.  I had memorized the entire service, all the prayers, what I was expected to do or say.  I knew exactly what was going to take place and when. I figured out the best place to sit in order to quickly leave and avoid the traffic jam in the parking lot.

I also went to mid-week classes to learn more about church, faith, what was expected of me.  Depending on the teacher, this informal setting was more interesting and fun.  I did learn a lot here – this is where I learned to smoke and how to transform a can of hair spray into a portable flame thrower.  But, as far as learning more about who God was, not so much.

While I was in church all the time[1], I really sensed that there was something missing.  I cannot explain it other than to say there was emptiness inside; I had this “gut feeling” that something vitally important was missing from my life.  Watching from the pew, it seemed like I was a passive spectator and the real action was in front.  Those in front were actively involved with God and I knew that was where I belonged, but I felt so unworthy, dirty.

I knew what was right but just couldn't seem to do it. We were taught the 10 Commandments[2] and the Golden Rule[3].  There were Bible readings and even a message, but it didn't stick. I'm sure that truth, grace, forgiveness and restoration were talked about, but I totally missed it.

As I grew, trying to do the right thing, I failed at every turn. I would go to God and ask forgiveness, but even in asking forgiveness I couldn't get it right. I would talk about things on the surface but not the core problems that festered deep inside of me.

As I entered my teenage years I was full of guilt, bitterness and anger. I started to lose control of the facade.  The ugliness within was starting to breakout all over. The venom boiling inside burst out in my language, actions, thoughts and attitudes.

If this wasn't bad enough, I fell into a pattern of moral failure. The guilt and shame was overwhelming, but I had no forgiveness or power to stop. I would cry out to God for forgiveness and promise never to do it again only to fail. This pattern of failure and shame followed by sorrow was a continual downward spiral, pulling me into even deeper depths.

As I tried to hide my pain and failures, I developed tremendous self-pride and arrogance[4] as a defense mechanism.  Thought the use of intellect and arrogance, I could put up an impenetrable wall so people would not see the scared and insecure person within.

Entering high school, I started to develop some friendships through the basketball team.  There were a handful of guys who seemed radically different from anyone I'd ever met.  Though certainly not perfect, there was something about them.  They treated one another like the real friends that I didn't have, but so desperately wanted and needed. They befriended me, inviting me to play basketball at their church on Saturday mornings.  I eagerly accepted, seeing that someone was actually interested in me.  Over the next months, we developed a deeper friendship where we would talk about more than basketball.

On one fateful day, Michael screwed up his courage and said the words that I most needed to hear.  In the parking lot of a bowling alley he told me that God loved me.  I cursed and said that God was responsible for all of my problems, which was just another arrogant pronouncement to deny any personal accountability.  But deep in my heart I knew that I was wrong.  In spite of my anger and response, Michael said that he absolutely knew that God loved me because Jesus died in my place.

That next Wednesday, he invited me to a high school youth Bible study.  Now I had tried to read the Bible but it just never made sense.  So I accepted, thinking that I could fake my way through it.  I arrived late, the Bible study was wrapping up and they were going to pray.  Now I knew I could pray, I had prayed all my life and had memorized more prayers than you could shake a stick at[5].  I knew how to pray from my mind so I thought I could handle this.

Never were there words spoken that were so false.

For the first time in my life I heard people talk to God as if he was really there.  The conversation was real and from their hearts, talking about their hopes, hurts, needs, pain and joy.  The only way that I can describe it is that it absolutely just crushed me, I started to weep uncontrollably.  They had something that I desperately wanted and needed but I had no clue on how to get there.

So, for the first time in my life, I actually spoke to God. Through my tears of shame and guilt I said that I did not know God but desperately wanted to.  I had this gaping hole in my soul that I have been trying to fill but was failing at every point.  Thinking that no one would understand and feeling somewhat embarrassed, I left quickly, trying to escape.

On Saturday morning, the next time we played basketball, Michael invited to come back Sunday evening for the next high school youth meeting.  This time, I got there on time and just soaked it all in. Towards the end of the meeting, Howard, the youth pastor asked if I would like to learn more about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

So Michael, Howard and I went into the boiler room of the church where they explained the incredibly good news that God wanted a relationship with me.  Imagine that, the God of the universe who had all power and knew everything wanted me. They explained that I had broken that relationship through sin[6], which I eagerly knew and admitted.  They explained that I couldn't do anything about it but God had taken care of it by sending Jesus and having him pay the price that I could not pay[7].  God did it all and my part was to receive[8].

I just looked at them and said there's got to be something more, there's got to be something I have to do. I'm so used to trying to fix things and myself.  They explained the beauty of it all was that I couldn't but that God had. And for the first time in my life I had a little glimpse of what God's love and grace meant.

The three of us knelt down in that boiler room and I agreed with God that I was broken, lost and could not fix myself.  I told God that I needed Jesus to repair and restore my relationship with him and my personal brokenness.  I asked Jesus to become my Lord, my Savior and my God[9].  With tears of release I knew for the first time in my life that I was truly forgiven.

I walked out of that boiler room a new man in Christ[10], starting down a lifelong radical transformation process that continues to this day.  There were some immediate and extreme transformations that God empowered in my life, for which I am truly thankful.  There were other areas of my life that were struggles for years.  God continues to mature me, pointing out areas of life that need to come under his greater control.  I am so thankful to God for his patience and kindness to me[11].

It is in response to His kindness, love and grace that I now change the course of my life and walk towards full-time Bible teaching through GLAD Associates.  While not worthy in any sense of the word, I know that God has both called and equipped me for this.  It is with great humility that I am walking with God “to a land that He will show me”.

[1]Luke 18:9-11
[2]Exodus 20:1-17
[3]Matthew 7:12
[4]Proverbs 8:13
[5]Luke 20:47
[6]Romans 3:23, 6:23
[7]Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6
[8]John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7
[9]Revelation 3:20
[10]2 Corinthians 5:17
[11]Romans 2:4

Expression - Friendly Questions

Friendly Questions – Think about the last time you met someone that either “lashed out” at you or just totally crawled into a hole and “shut down” to hide their feelings.  It may come as a surprise that both reactions are sourced in the same root problem of unresolved pain or brokenness.  As a friend, we want to help but don't know where to start.  The key is not “what I know” but “what questions to ask”.  Friendly Questions provides a guide for your conversation that is designed to help them with the journey from pain to recovery.
  • Five steps to get ready
  • Path from pain to release
  • Walking together towards healing

Expression - Faith Questions

Faith Questions – No matter where people are on their spiritual journey, there seems to be a set of troubles and questions that inevitably come up.  Instead of hiding from these questions, we need to shine a bright light on them, pointing people to the answers found in Jesus Christ.  Faith Questions explores these vital questions from a uniquely historical, cultural and Biblical perspective.
  • Bible – why is it the Word of God and do we have to take it literally?
  •  Jesus – who is he and what makes him unique from other religious leaders?
  • Pain, Evil and Suffering – if God is good and all powerful, why does he allow it? Can't he stop it?
  • Pleasure – don't we deserve a life full of joy, delight and success?
  • Hell – does a good God really send people to an eternity of separation and suffering?
  • Doubt – is it OK to doubt God and what should I do with my questions?
  • One Way – is there really only one way to God? What about everyone that never heard about Jesus?
  • Power – how can I follow Jesus when history is full of examples where the Church abused its power and oppressed the poor?

Expression - Understanding Mormonism

Understanding Mormonism – There's lots of "buzz" about Mormonism today.  Mitt Romney's victory in numerous primaries puts the topic front and center.  There have been countless conflicting comments about Mormonism and the "cult" word.  Broadway's smash hit "The Book of Mormon" and the “Twilight” books also bring additional media attention.  There seem to be so many questions and inconsistent reports about Mormons and their core beliefs.  There is way too much “hearsay” about “heresy” with little “clarity”.  Understanding Mormonism covers all the vital topics you need to know through a balance of “truth and love” including;
  • Introduction & history of Mormonism
  • Key beliefs (Bible, God, Jesus, people, sin, salvation)
  • Are Mormons Christians – answers from Joseph Smith
  • The "essence" of Christianity
  • Keys to talking with Mormons

Updated First Impressions

Updated First Impressions
By Chet Gladkowski
What church doesn't give out coffee mugs with glossy advertising whenever a first time visitor arrives. I personally have a nice 8-piece set of non-matching church coffee mugs that adorn my kitchen.

Inc. recently published “Make a Great First Impression: 9 New Rules” by Tom Searcy1 where he updates this truth in light of today's business environment.  After reading this great article, it seemed time to update first impression rules for the church.  So here goes, new rules for making a great first impression at church, even without a coffee mug...
Digital introductions – once upon a time, first impressions came as people pulled into your parking lot or were met by greeters at your door.  Today your first impression happens well before you ever shake hands.  It's your digital presence that gives your first impression.
  • Your single largest investment of time and attention needs to quickly, graphically and effectively explain what you and your church are all about.  Don't assume that people will scroll down or follow links; this must appear as soon as they are directed to your web page.  This is your vision “elevator speech” where you have a very small window of time and real estate to passionately explain what God has called you to.  Failure here is worse than your greeters having really bad breath.  And the tragedy is that so few people pay attention to what their landing page ends.
  • Since everyone and everything is plugged-in, you need to provide fresh digital content and connections.  This means rapidly replacing past events and outdated information.  Nothing says “stay away” and “we're boring” more than yesterday’s news.
  • Have you ever looked at the information trail from your digital footprints?  If you searched on your church and its leaders, what would you find?  For the most part, you don't need to pay for this service, what is publicly available through search engines is more than enough.  I once did this on a pastor of a local church and was really surprised, and not in a good way.  The wake of poor references and broken relationships was tragic and discouraging.  While you need to be circumspect about any information on the web (because anyone can say anything), you need to be aware of what’s out there and why.

Team message – while an individual might provide some attraction, “stickiness” for new people is directly tied to more than one person (aka the local Body).  The entire Body needs to be unified and on point when it comes to vision and direction.  The exponential increase in personnel connections becomes 3-fold when staff, leaders and members all understand, support and “walk” the vision.  Needless to say, if your church does not have a clear vision/direction, this is all a moot point.
  • Staff needs to actively and passionately support the vision and clearly understand their part in it.  Does their ministry description on your web site point to how their roles and responsibilities support the vision?  Can they clearly and excitedly explain the vision, their part in it and how God is using it in the lives of people?
  • Leaders also need to be aligned with the vision and message.  You need to invest time, energy and focused communication with your total leadership and support team.  This takes more than a monthly meeting to set the stage and invest time into your leaders.  Your leadership selection process must also include their personal agreement and passion for the vision.  Since they will meet so many more people than you ever will, this investment always pays off.
  • The average person in church becomes so UN-average and energized when they see their part in the vision and direction.   This means that the vision needs to be repeated and reinforced every week through voice, bulletins, email, blogs, Sunday school classes, small group/community meetings, even at special events.  Rather than inviting people to get up and shake hands, have them go and share the vision.  It's great practice and reinforces the vision, message and values.

Details – I'd like to recast the age old expression to say “the blessing is in the details” as opposed to the devil.  Sweat the details so they all fit together and in harmony with your vision.  But don't just drop them once things are in place, you need to keep up with the details.  Just like you continue to invest time and energy in a garden, you need to continually invest in the details to ensure that you keep an ongoing and expanding harvest.
  • First person messages of changed and growing lives are perhaps the single most powerful thing that you can do.  This is not just stories of great success, but also of human hurt and disappointment as seen in light of Jesus and the Gospel.  At least one “testimony” needs to be on your web landing page, and it needs to change from time to time.
  • Icons and links for other digital connections (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc.) need to be front and center so visitors can easily and quickly connect with you on a regular basis.
  • We need to do as much as possible to ensure that we get it right the first time.  I know that we are all human and that life is full of surprises, but how many times have you received a second (dare I say third) update with changes and corrections about dates, times and details.  I'm all about grace and forgiveness, but when I consistently see these kinds of changes and corrections, at best it makes me wonder whether all the details were nailed-down in the first place.  At worst, I start to question the training, skill and abilities of the people behind the corrections.

By paying attention to your digital introductions, team message and details, you help people find Jesus and His people.  What deserves our attention more?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Background, Mission/Vision, Principles and Expressions


Perhaps it's the downturn of the economy coupled with the collapse of the housing market. Maybe it started with 9/11 and the personalization of terrorism on our shores. Possibly it's the culmination of our culture saying that everyone is free to determine their own version of the truth because there is no ultimate truth.

We have sown the seeds of a society where there is no ultimate truth, reaping a harvest of insecurity, addiction and violence as desperate people fail to fill the “holes in their soul.” Millions are listening to the ever present bombardment of self-help consultants and gurus, telling them the falsehood that the answer lies within. They direct us to grovel in worship at the feet of the unholy trinity; “me, myself and I.”

Whatever the reasons, there is one thing that nearly everyone agrees on – we live in a broken world and people are crying out for answers - real answers to the real problems of life.

While “self-help” is eagerly accepted almost without question, a “God-help” alternative is joked at and jeered. Some negativity towards a God-centered approach has been well earned, as people only see Christians as caricatures of negativity and pride. Many Christians live within a religious and cultural bubble hidden away from the daily bombardment and routine experienced by their friends, family and neighbors.

The time has come for a fresh voice and message that points people to the “root cause” of our “brokenness” and towards the ultimate solution. A set of rules or principles is powerless to change us. Now is the time for fresh thinking and a fresh approach to telling people about their brokenness and the need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That's where GLAD Associates comes in.

Mission and Vision

God has given GLAD Associates a unique vision and mission to reach people with the believable good news about Jesus Christ.

Mission – Using very unique and practical communication styles based on live and digital media, approach the issues and heartache that people face with the solution focused solely on a relationship with Jesus Christ as the answers to our greatest need.

Vision – Jesus Christ so changes lives that people live differently and with new priorities to the point that they openly share their lives with others.

Foundational Principles

The Mission and Vision of GLAD Associates are supported on four foundational principles:

  • Content and Communicate – All answers are based on the Bible, the authoritative Word of God. When we take direction from God, we are able to give creator-based solutions, and not just peer-based suggestions. The Bible is the foundation that can stand the test of time and the storms of life.

  • Culture and Connect – Information, stories, problems and solutions are all set within the culture in which we live. Just like it makes no sense to speak a foreign language that is not understood, we must communicate in a way that resonates with the people and our culture. It must speak to and from within our culture, connecting with people in a deep and meaningful way.

  • Change and Challenge – We must do more than give out information or suggestions, we need to issue a two-way “pull-push”. The “pull” is towards God, His desires, goals and good for our lives. The “push” is away from those who would harm and destroy us, diverting us from the greater good for our lives and benefit.

  • Comfort & Compassion – While there is a place for confrontation, most people respond best to the “comfort” from the good news of Jesus. Instead of having to “earn” God's love and attention, the good news shows how God initiated the relationship and paid the horrific price for our restoration and reunion with Him. This gives great comfort to us, and demonstrates God's compassion for us.


GLAD Associates engages with people, providing meaningful ways to learn about our brokenness and need for ongoing renewal and renovation through Jesus Christ. These engagements are “expressions” of the Mission and Vision for GLAD Associates. These “expressions” come in two basic delivery methods to meet the focused needs of people and schedules:

In person presentations and meetings
  • Sunday School class
  • Mid-week meeting
  • Small group sessions
  • Half-day seminar
  • Weekend retreats
  • Sermon series
  • Outreach and evangelism meetings

Digital distribution
  • – Email, Facebook & Twitter
  • – Blog
  • GladAssociates – YouTube

With the Mission and Vision of GLAD Associates to be culturally relevant and timely, specific “expressions” will be added and changed over time as important topics appear.

Next Steps

There are three important steps and decisions that you can take;

  • First – pray that God would lead and open doors for GLAD Associates to share God's solution for our brokenness through Jesus Christ.
  • Second – direct GLAD Associates to specific needs and opportunities where we might serve you, fulfilling our vision and mission.
  • Third – reach out to those you know who need a resource like GLAD Associates, passing on information and a personal short note from you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


While being raised in a church setting, I did not understand God's love till a friend shared Christ with me in the parking lot of a bowling alley. That next Sunday, I received Jesus as my God and Savior, starting a radical transformation process that continues to this day. I am blessed to be a seasoned Bible teacher, going back to 1971 and has served as a Trustee, Deacon, Elder, Pastor and other positions in several churches. I've also served as Board Chairman of WMA, a missionary consulting organization. I have served the insurance-technology industry in numerous capacities including Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Senior Director-Research and Development. I recently founded GLAD Associates as a way to transition to full-time Bible teaching.