Fresh-Expressions-LogoNearly four million people in the State of Indiana have no affiliation with any organized religion according to MissionInsite.org.  Think about it.  That’s more than every other household!  They are our neighbors, co-workers, fellow students and teammates, the people in the checkout lanes and doctors’ offices.  When Jesus said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35),” he was talking about Indiana in 2018!  So how do we reach them?  It will likely require “fresh expressions” of the church.

41z0gTAFNjL._AC_US436_QL65_A model of missional outreach called Fresh Expressions was developed in the mid 1990’s by the Church of England and the Methodist Church of England.  And this model has developed into a movement that now is in America.  In the book Fresh Expressions, United Methodist authors, Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., and Audrey Warren, define the Fresh Expressions movement as “a bold attempt to plant the gospel organically in the networks inhabited by the unchurched and dechurched, the ‘nones,’ and the ‘dones,’ and the ‘spiritual but not religious.'”

The model is based on Christians using their natural circles of influence, which the book refers to as “networks,” and places where people naturally hang out, called “third places,” and to intentionally develop relationships using these that ultimately lead to disciple making opportunities through community.

The Indiana Conference’s Church Development team recently co-sponsored a Fresh Expressions workshop with the North District.  At that event, which attracted over 50 people, participants heard two examples of Fresh Expressions-like outreach efforts.  One was a layman who developed a running group that eventually helped start Wakarusa UMC’s contemporary service.  The other was of how two laywomen used their love of clowning and magic to connect with children.  That ministry has blossomed into a weekly, year round ministry of Lagrange UMC that offers children and their parents the love of Christ in a rural mobile home community.

Unknown-2On Sunday, March 11, from 4pm-7pm (Eastern Time), at Mt. Comfort UMC (just east of Indianapolis), Church Development will be offering a special Fresh Expressions workshop featuring Rev. Barry Sloan.  Barry is a Methodist pastor from Northern Ireland who is serving as Director of Evangelism for the German United Methodist Church.  He and his wife, Gillian, have helped launch a fresh expression of the church called “Inspire” in Chemnitz, Germany.  The evening will include a dinner and workshop on how you can start a Fresh Expressions ministry in your church’s community.  To register go to Fresh Expressions:  A Model for Missional Outreach.  March 4th is the registration deadline.

Finally, Church Development is offering a new grant to Indiana UMCs for up to $1,000 to help them start a Fresh Expressions effort.  These grants are limited in number and only those churches who have had persons attend a Fresh Expressions workshop are eligible to apply.  For more information about the workshops or grants, just contact one of the Church Development’s multiplication team–Emily Reece, Sergio Reyes, or myself.

It is highly unlikely that we will reach the growing slice of the population pie that is not interested in the institutional church by simply doing what we’ve done in the past.  It will  most likely require us to launch Fresh Expressions of the church.  Jesus said that we need to put new wine in new wineskins.  Fresh Expressions may be the new wineskins we need to use in order to accomplish our mission in today’s world.  So let’s go for it!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

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headshots+2-0052So many mis-conceptions surround the validity and value of the smaller membership churches.  Many feel that because they are small, there must be some problem or problems  that exists.  When this mentality becomes the plum line, finger pointing always seems to follow.

      “If only we had the right pastor”

      “If the big church down the street would quit attracting our members”

      “If only we had more money”

Well, you get the point!   The truth is the value and validity of any church regardless of it’s size is not based on any of the above.   Validity and value are based on the health of a congregation.

Just like our bodies, once in a while it is wise for congregations to get a check up.   I hear your next question clearly, “How in the world does a congregation get a check up”?   “How can we take the temperature of a congregation”?

Let me try to answer those questions briefly but clearly.  Congregational health is based on alignment.  Alignment of its vision with its over-arching mission.  We as United Methodists share a clearly stated and focused mission: THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WILL MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.

This mission statement becomes the basis and focal point of our existence as a congregation, and our task is for all that we do to be aligned with our mission.

My mentor and interim Director of Church Development for the Indiana Conference, Doug Anderson states it this way, ” Communication plus collaboration brings alignment.”

Thus, because healthiness comes from alignment, communication and collaboration must become a part of our daily regimen.  When communication breaks down collaboration seldom happens.  The church looses sight of its vision because it isn’t being communicated clearly.  Collaboration between ministry areas and the congregation begins to suffer and eventually grinds to a standstill.  Ultimately the mission not only becomes out of reach but usually is forgotten or ignored.

Your Church Development team at the Indiana Conference wants to help.  We can come alongside a church with tools and procedures to help it move toward and ultimately achieve better health.

No matter what size congregation you call home, it is valuable and holds validity.  Please consider giving us the opportunity to serve with you as we together “MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.”

Because he lives…

— Randy L Anderson, Associate Director of Church Development

UnknownJohn Enright, one of my heroes, died in a tragic car accident December 26th.  He and his wife, Kendra, who was injured, have been missionaries in Africa pretty much all their lives.  I think John and I connected with each other in part because both of our parents had been missionaries in the former Belgian Congo when we were children (mine briefly).

Our lives didn’t intersect a lot, but I think of three specific times…

The first was May 20, 1986.  I remember that date because it happened be my birthday.  I was at John and Kendra’s home in Luana, Congo (then called Zaire), with my pastor, Rev. Bob Glass and a small team of people from Simpson United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne.  Simpson had a special connection to John because it provided him with a home while he attended high school, the same high school my three sons attended.  The church had a short wave radio club and communicated regularly with John and his parents, Ken and Lorraine Enright.

John introduced me to church planting during that 1986 visit.  He was so passionate about church planting.  He had helped his Bishop and the North Katanga Conference plant dozens and dozens of churches.  I remember visiting a worship service at one of those churches.  It was so full that many people had to stand outside.  It was on John’s watch that The United Methodist Church in Congo experienced its explosive growth.

On that trip John also shared how we must not only share Christ, but also help people earn a decent living.  So many natives were experiencing subsistence living.  He proudly showed us his banana plantation and palm tree grove in Luana.  It was a grand experiment to discover whether these could potentially provide Congolese with a decent income.

The next time our paths crossed was in the year 2000 when he and his family came to the states.  I was visiting Hanfield UMC, which is pastored by Rev. Tim Helm.  I kept hearing about Hanfield, located in an old rural church building, because of its amazing growth.  So on May 7, 2000, I went to see for myself what was going on.  That Sunday the church was so full I had to sit outside the sanctuary door.  Guess who happened to be preaching–John Enright.  Hanfield has been a long-time supporter of the Enrights and he and his family were visiting.  One of the things John shared that day was that our TV sets here in the U.S. are pumping sewage into our homes, polluting our minds.  The content is unwholesome and unhealthy, that God calls us not to expose ourselves to such filth.  Not a bad word for us today!

Most recently, November 20, 2016, I had returned to Hanfield, except this time it was to visit the church’s inner-city campus on the north side of Marion.  Who should happen to be preaching–John Enright!  So I got to eat lunch with him afterwards to learn the latest news.  At that time John and his family had resettled in neighboring Zambia.  A lot of what he had been doing in Congo he started again in Zambia–a medical flight ministry, a training school for pastors, and banana plantations.  He also had started a furniture making business, staffed by natives, aqua fisheries, and more.

But when I met him that November morning, he shared how he had started the biggest honey production business in the world!  His business sold hives to natives who in turn had his business buy, process, and sell their honey.  The natives saw their monthly incomes jumped from $5.00 to $50, and his business earned enough profit to generate nearly $1 million to support mission work.  It was a win-win for everyone!  And as he said, “The bees always showed up to work.”

As you can see, John was not only a disciple maker but also a world changer!  Thousands have come into relationship with Christ through his life’s ministry, and entire communities have been transformed through not only their knowledge of Jesus and his love, but through economic prosperity.  John Enright will be truly missed, but the fruit of his work will continue.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Assoc. Director of Church Development

 

Ed 09Are you the type of person who tends to get so focused on your to-do lists that you don’t give much attention to the people involved?  Well, I’m guilty of that.  Many times I get so caught up in developing and implementing plans that I miss really interacting with the persons behind the plans.

One of the new insights I’ve received as I’ve gone through coaching certification training this year is not only to focus on the what in a coaching conversation–such as what the client wants to accomplish–but also to focus on the who, the person who’s being coached–their feelings, their stuck points, and underlying issues. Many times the real agenda turns out not to be at the what level but at the who.

IMG_0649To-do lists can consume us this time of year can’t they?  We’ve got a to-do list for the Christmas stuff at our churches that have to get done, our gift-giving lists, home decorating lists, and of course lists for all our special Christmas parties and activities.  This year, among all the what’s of Christmas, I’m going to try to remember all the who’s that are involved.

A favorite Christmas story read at our house each Christmas Eve is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  A lot of what defined Christmas for the Grinch are many of the things on my to-do lists, the what’s.  But remember, it was the who’s that really understood the real meaning of Christmas.  May we too focus on the who’s and what the who’s focused on!  And, of course, may we focus on the greatest who--the great “I Am”– whose coming we celebrate this season!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Multiplication is a mindset

Posted: October 30, 2017 by efenster in Ideas
Tags: , , , , ,

IMAG0045After my blog article about churches moving from addition to multiplication (See October 5, 2017, article.), a pastor asked, “If your church isn’t growing, don’t you need to move to addition before moving on to multiplication?”  Great question!  The surprising answer is “No.”  You see we’re not talking about numbers so much as a mindset.

An addition mindset is one that is focused on filling pews.  In that case the focus is on attracting more people through marketing our ministries and making tactical changes, like adjusting our worship times and service style to best meet the needs of those looking for a church, i.e. consumers.   A multiplication mindset is all about a church empowering, equipping, and sending its people into the community–being in relationship with those in need of God’s love and Good News.  A church can be shrinking or plateaued and still change its focus to that of empowering, equipping and sending its people.  Often in the Gospels Jesus is quoted as saying one gains one’s life by losing it.  This holds true for churches too.  It is through a generous giving heart that churches will begin to gain renewed joy, energy, and purpose.

The Indiana Conference has a dream of every one of its churches becoming a missional community, that is a church that sends, whose people go.  Every church can be a missional church, but it will require a mindset shift from addition to multiplication.

Sometimes a church can send people out and still be stuck in an addition mindset.  For example in the book, Shaped by God’s Heart, Milfred Minatrea, writes:  “Releasing members to start new churches is addition.  Releasing members to start church-planting churches results in movements.”  You see it all comes down to one’s mindset.  Is it focused on addition or multiplication?  For the sake of the Kingdom, may it be multiplication!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

 

 

How did a United Methodist church in a community of only 900 people develop a weekly mid-week worship service that has grown from only a dozen elementary students three years ago to over 40?  The answer:  worship, food, and intentional outreach!

LaFontaine UMC, pastored by Crystal Jacobson, took its Wednesday after-school ministry and added a 30-minute worship service opened to their parents and other adults, followed by a meal that they help prepare.  As a result, people who have never been involved in the church’s Sunday morning service have become regular participants on Wednesdays.

As a way to grow the service’s attendance, Pastor Crystal launched a bring-a-friend competition and began keeping track of the number of people each child invited during the previous week.  As a result, this past year the children have invited nearly 550!  And, so far, 62 have attended.

Inviting friends is now normative.  Pastor Crystal shared that one of the best inviters was confused as to why the pastor was so impressed at her number of invitations.  “She didn’t know that [inviting friends] is not normal in most congregations.”  Crystal went on to report, “Our winner was a 7 year-old boy who would do a blitz of invitations on Tuesday evenings through texting and messenger, along with inviting friends at school. He won with 55 invitations.”

In August the church celebrated 10 baptisms–7 adults, and 3 children. All but one regularly attend the Wednesday service.  And the Wednesday night attenders have been joining the Sunday morning congregation in joint events such as vacation Bible school, a fall hayride, summer feeding program and more!  And the bottom line is more formerly unreached folk in the community are being discipled and are regularly worshiping God!  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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headshots+2-0055I’m a product of the church growth movement, but the church growth movement isn’t going to take the church where it needs to go in the future.  We need to move from addition to multiplication–from adding to our numbers through attraction, to sending out our people to start new faith communities that in turn raise up new leaders that are sent out to start new faith communities.  Moving from addition to multiplication is a necessary step if we are to experience the kind of movement The United Methodist Church experienced in the early 1800’s in Indiana.

Upward arrowUp till now, a prime metric that we’ve been taught to watch is the average number of people in our weekly worship services.  Therefore, we’ve focused on marketing our churches and protecting and conserving our numbers.  The last thing we’d want to do is send people out because our worship attendance metric would take a hit.

The Church Development team is convinced that we need to change our prime metric and begin measuring the number of people that we’re sending out to help start new faith communities.  The reality is that fewer and fewer people in the U.S. are interested in coming to our churches.  What if we embrace Jesus’ command to go?  What if we take the church to them?

IMG_6662Last month, over 100 church pastors and leaders from the Indiana Conference gathered with Bishop Trimble and the Church Development team to consider this very idea.  What would it take for us and our churches to move from an addition mindset to one of multiplication.  We’re convinced that God is moving right now in our leaders and churches, placing on many of their hearts and minds the desire to multiply! If you’re such a person, or you attend such a church, know that the Church Development team is ready to partner with you.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

Leaders praying at the Bishop’s Multiplication Summit held September 7, 2017IMG_6665