18010760_1380122238677676_4717157016528137471_nHave you ever looked at a problem and upon looking at it from a different perspective, and being open to God, something beautiful results?  That’s what happened at a small United Methodist church in Scipio, Indiana, a tiny community between Columbus and North Vernon.  Pastor Dereck Fields’s wife, Angela, was looking out her kitchen window at the church’s garage.  A large tree had fallen on it and it was beyond repair.

At that moment she had a thought, what if rather than replacing the structure, the church built a larger structure designed for ministry.  What if rather than a structure used for storage, the church built one used for connecting and growing people in relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that is exactly what the church has decided to do.  This spring the church has been constructing a shelter house on its property near busy Highway 7.  And on June first, after much prayer and planning, the church is launching a new Thursday night worship service designed to reach those who aren’t connected with a church.  The hope is that using a shelter-house setting, rather than a traditional sanctuary, and using food, bands, and speakers on various practical life issues, the church will be able to provide people in its area with a Christ-centered community and connect them to Christ.

The church recently was awarded a $25,000 Church Development grant to help launch this project, the cost of which is estimated at over $85,000 for the next four years.  In its grant application, Rev. Dereck Fields wrote:  “In 1 Corinthians 9:19 the Apostle Paul reminds us, ‘Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people.’  In the spirit of these words, we have decided to put together a worship service designed to better meet the needs of our community.”

The Indiana Conference’s Church Development Committee jumped at the opportunity to partner with this congregation because it already had a track record of intentional outreach to its community.  Its annual Easter Egg Hunt attracts 150-200 each 17990579_1377429712280262_6606864339592548734_oyear, its annual Halloween Trick-or-Treating 200-300 people, its annual Vacation Bible School 75-120, its weekly Mommy & Me Class 15-30 people, its monthly Thursday meal for the community 150-200 people, and the list goes on!  The town of Scipio, incidentally only has 124 people!

These outreach efforts are viewed by the church as ways to begin developing relationships with people in need of God’s love and good news.  As a result, lives have been changed, and the church’s worship attendance has doubled in size to around 60.

So, what problem are you facing?  Could it be that God has a plan to take the brokenness resulting from the problem and do something incredibly beautiful through it?  God, through Scipio UMC, has demonstrated just that!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

IMG_9162“We want to be a real church,” the laity explained to Rev. Randy Anderson, Associate Superintendent of the Southwest District, when he met with them earlier this year. “We” are members of a new Haitian United Methodist faith community in Washington, Indiana, that’s averaging around 40 in worship.

As a result of their request, the Southwest District Superintendent, Rev. Steve Beutler, working with Bishop Julius Trimble and Church Development, has assigned David Draeger, a UM layman fluent in Creole, to lead the congregation. thumb_IMG_1237_1024
The congregation has adopted the name First Haitian United Methodist Church, and Rev. Rex Thomas and the members of Wesley UMC have invited them to share their building.

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On March 19, 2017, Bishop Trimble came to the church to welcome these new members of the Indiana Conference into the United Methodist Church family.
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Few in the congregation have access to transportation and so one layman was making four trips to the church each Sunday to transport members to worship.  In order to help, the Southwest District has presented this new unchartered congregation with a van.

IMG_9236Please pray for this fledgling congregation and may the joy of its members inspire all of us to praise God and reach out to others!

 

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

by Chassity Neckers 

worship+shotThere is a uniquely sacred excitement that happens when a church begins to exist beyond its walls. Where the people inside make a commitment to be about the people outside first and the building second. There is nowhere that this is displayed more than at Huntertown UMC. Ten years ago, members of the congregation began to dream about meeting outside of the church walls in a location that better reached their community. The location that houses Huntertown UMC was landlocked which left little, logistically, for growth to happen. They began praying and searching, only to purchase land about a mile and a half away from the original church property.

The community that Huntertown UMC serves is ripe with harvest – a booming area with life, new homes, new schools; growth in every direction. A traffic study led them to discover that 3,000 cars drive past the location where they purchased land 10 years ago. Three-thousand lives that could be impacted if they chose to leave the safe zone of their 4 walls and venture into creating a second campus that God would use to reach their city.

Ten years later, after 8 jam-packed months of planning, their second campus came to life on March 5, 2017. The lay leadership that helped launch the campus would say that the Spirit’s presence in that place that morning was outstanding! Expecting things to go wrong, as we all do when trying something new, they witnessed a smoothly-run morning that was full of praise and worship as they stood as witnesses to the testament of God’s faithfulness.

“You could sense the energy the morning [of the launch] of the new service as soon as you approached the LifeHouse Campus. Cars streaming into the parking lot, greeters welcoming guests as they entered the building, 300 people worshiping together and praising God, 80 additional kids in a children’s ministry,” said Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development.

He continued, “Lots of energy, excitement, and a sense of God’s presence! I’m so glad Church Development could be a part of helping Huntertown UMC prepare for that day. Our prayers are with them.”

While not every new faith community goes off without a hitch, here are some of the things Huntertown UMC did as they prayed and prepared to launch a second campus:

  1. Began to create a cultural shift in perspective – They had to decide, would they be about the church building and church as they knew it on Sunday mornings or would they be about the people inside. A second campus meant two services in two locations, not always seeing the same people every Sunday as you did with one service.
  2. Determined their core values as a church – Through a sermon series, they began to outline the core values of why they exist and what they would be about as a church. They decided to be faithful to the people God has called them to reach, nothing more and nothing less and as a result, God has used them immensely and honored their faithfulness.
  3. Communicated openly with the congregation – They held multiple evening meetings to answer questions and concerns as they prepared to launch the LifeHouse campus. It became a church movement, not just the idea of a few pressed upon many.
  4. Relied on the leadership of the laity – Pastor Tony Johnson will admit, that coming into a new appointment, there was no way they could have launched this second campus without their lay leadership. Their laity owned their mission, core values, and lived outside their walls – inviting neighbors and others in their community to the launch and telling them about the campus almost daily, a challenging yet exciting task for those involved.

Starting a second campus can seem both awesome and overwhelming. Does starting a second campus mean we are to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” of our first? No. In fact, both of Huntertown UMC’s campuses are fulfilling their mission to reach their community right where they are. The second campus helped expand what God was already doing, not replace it. Allowing God to take their community of faith to the next step so they could best reach their community, they are now one church with two locations.

“We are about people,” said Tony Johnson, Pastor of Huntertown UMC. “[The second campus is] about the kingdom over the church. Growth of the kingdom is first, growth of the church is secondary.”

“Being missional in 21st century Indiana means reaching those who are like sheep without a shepherd in new and creative ways. This endeavor is one way to be missional to reach those who need to know our Savior, Jesus Christ,” commented Dave Neckers, Conference Superintendent serving the Northeast District.

The launch of Huntertown UMCs LifeHouse campus beckons each of us to answer the question – what are we about? Are we about a worship service, a building, our community? Will we choose to be about those living outside our walls over those existing within? Church development is for all of us, for healthy faith movements all throughout Indiana. Learn more about the ways Church Development can come alongside your congregation here.


– See more at: http://www.inumc.org/newsdetail/huntertown-umc-launches-lifehouse-campus-7804006#sthash.BJ6u2owL.dpuf

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 1.38.10 PMThe Indiana Conference’s Church Development team is tracking 25 new-faith communities that have been launched the past few years.  Together  they average 2,500 people in weekly worship attendance.  Praise God!

Each person reached has the potential of a changed life–like Amber Bean who a year ago wasn’t a Christian.  But now, thanks to Kristo’s Hands & Feet and the work of the Holy Spirit, Amber is passionate about her relationship with Christ and serving Him.  You can view her amazing testimony by clicking this link.

There are many, many others like Amber in your neighborhood.  So who is God counting on you and your church to bring the hope and joy of new life in Jesus Christ this Lenten Season?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

img_0368Every month a list of prayer concerns go out to folk who are involved in supporting Church Development‘s work in Indiana’s United Methodist Church.  If you’re interested in receiving these monthly notes and support Church Development’s work in prayer, please email ed.fenstermacher@inumc.org.  Below is March’s note.  — Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Friends, Please pray for Bloomington St. Paul UMC today and tomorrow as it goes through its FCJ consultation.  Please pray for its pastor Dave Mullens, and the consult team of Steve Clouse, Jack Hartman, Tony Alstott (coach) and Kirk Freeman.

Pray for Monson Community’s Church for All People congregation.  Pray that God will help the Bishop and Cabinet to find the right person to lead it.  It’s a very unique ministry and needs someone who can develop partnerships and grow the funding.  Right now there is a faithful group that serves two free meals to the public every Saturday and Sunday!  Their commitment is truly amazing.  They have served 3,000 people, some of whom have joined their ranks and have had their lives transformed.

Pray for Huntertown UMC, led by Tony Johnson, as it launches a new congregation tomorrow (Sunday) at its Lifehouse campus, formerly called the Third Place.  Also pray for Hope UMC, led by Stacy Downing (near Fort Wayne), as it launches The Matt, a new outreach ministry located in a former laundromat in a mobile home park.

Thanks for your prayers for our recent CD Committee meeting.  Three grants were awarded—one to fund St. Joseph UMC’s new congregation that is being launched out of a YMCA, another to Christ UMC in Lafayette to help it establish a new congregation reaching the marginalized called Church for Everyone, and a third to Upland UMC as it relocates to a new site with expanded ministry.  So exciting to see God working!

Other prayer concerns…

March 9th — Church Development staff meeting

March 13th — Day of prayer and fasting for our Bishop and conference leadership as well as our Jurisdiction’s Episcopal leaders and denomination

March 17-19 — FCJ consultation for Bedford First whose pastor is Michelle White.  Consult team is Jack Hartman, Mark Eutsler, Dennis Ticen (coach), Dan Snyder

Please also pray for the following church planting projects:

East Chicago Torre Fuerte UMC (Strong Tower).  Leaders:  Esequiel & Suri Becerra.  North District.  Pray for the Becerra at the loss of his father Santos.

Elkhart New Hope UMC’s Casa de Mi Padre.  Leader:  Jorge Maldonado.  North District.

Elkhart Servant’s Heart Community.  Leader:  Nancy Bennett.  North District.

Fort Wayne Covenant UMC’s ministry with Parkview Family YMCA.  Covenant’s lead pastor:  Karen Koelsch.  Pray as the church recruits its team.

Fort Wayne Kristo’s Hands and Feet, a missional plant by St. Joseph UMC.  Leader:  Steve Mekaru.  Northeast District.  Prayers:  Please pray for me and our team as we transition from full time to part time in this ministry.

Fort Wayne St. Joseph UMC’s Lehman YMCA Campus.  Leader:  Jason Morris.

Greentown Miso Congregation.  Leader:  Lal Ralte.  Pray for this UM congregation of over 200 Burmese.

Huntertown UMC’s Lifehouse Campus.  Huntertown’s lead pastor:  Tony Johnson.  Pray as they launch a contemporary service in its new location.

Indianapolis Casa de Dios (second campus of Fort Wayne Getsemani UMC).  Leader:  Marissa Calleja.  Central District.  Prayers:  Please help us pray for the continual growth of our new faith believers in Christ.

Indianapolis Engage.  Leader:  Sharon Washington.  Central District.  Pray for the pre-launch/preview worship activities, and opportunities to strengthen staffing and facilities.

Indianapolis Old Bethel Hispanic Faith Community.  Pastor: Jen Stuelple-Gibbs.  Lead planter:  Sergio Reyes.  Central District.

Indianapolis The Garden.  Pastor:  Carolyn Scanlan.  Central District.

Indianapolis Vida Nueva.  Pastor:  David Penelva.  Central District.   Pray for our training program to raise up house church leaders.

Indianapolis Wesley’s Luz de Vida.  Pastors:  Carlos & Mirna Doliveira.

Lafayette Christ’s Church for Everyone.  Leader:  Stephanie Hanslow.  Northwest District.  Pray for it as it gets launched.

Ligonier UMC’s Nuevos Principios.  Leaders:  Jesus & Oliva Saucedo.  Northeast District.  Pray as the congregation’s leaders discern its future.

Marion Hanfield UMC’s BORN second campus in Marion.  Leader: Chuck Vernon.  North Central District.  Pray as it considers hiring a coach.

Muncie Main Street & The Garden at Gethsemane.  Leader Vickie Perkins.  East District.

Pfrimmer’s Chapel’s Mercy Street recovery congregations.  Pastor Tim Johnson and leader Bill Walsh.  South District.  Prayer:  Also pray for the church’s plants in South America—one at Berrugas, Colombia, led by Edgar & Julie Zuluaga, and another at El Poblado, Colombia, led by Claudio Acevedo Benitez.  Also pray for The Open House, a Saturday night worship service at the Kent Java Coffee Bar, led by Tyler Best, and The Joshua Center, a Ministry of Mentoring and Training Leaders in downtown Corydon, led by Jeannie Bedel.

South Bend Monson Community UMC’s storefront United Methodist Church for All People.  Leader:  To be announced.  North District.  Prayer:  Pray for the church and Larry Whitehead as they replace its former pastor.   Pray for the laity as they continue the church’s outreach ministries.

Washington Haitian Faith Community, meeting at Wesley UMC.  Pray as the conference/district helps them find a pastor who speaks Creole.  (We think we’ve found the right person!)

West Lafayette Korean Disciples Church.  Leader:  Rev. Kookjin Yun.  Northwest District.  Prayer:  Please pray for our college group to grow more in the upcoming spring semester.

Whitestown.  Leader:  Seth Neckers.  Pray for Seth as he explores the possibility of developing a new UM faith community in the fastest growing community in Indiana.

Winchester UMC a third campus of Compass Church.  Leader:  Jeremy Duncan.  East District.  Please pray for discernment as to the next steps with the Winchester Campus Education Building. Also, how to continue to engage with the Winchester community to build relationship and connection so that Jesus Christ can be shared with them.

Close to 300 large churches in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church have participated in the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) revitalization process.  Are you aware of a new FCJ process designed especially for small churches?

FCJ-Impact, designed for churches averaging 70 or fewer in weekly worship attendance, guides a church on how to thrive in its “tomorrows” instead of hoping to just survive them.

Eight UM churches in the Kokomo area are just completing a pilot run of FCJ-Impact.  Participant Evan Strong, pastor of Bunker Hill UMC, writes of his experience:

“This journey has blessed me. To be honest, in the beginning I was dreading giving up my Saturdays, but once we got started, I knew it was going to be worth every second. I would take this Fruitful Congregation Journey again!

“FCJ-Impact has taught me new ways to spread God’s love to people who may otherwise have never experienced it. I’ve learned to change (modify) and add to what we do and would like to do within our church without disrupting the entire congregation. I will miss our meetings, but know our church will continue to apply everything we have learned.

“As a clergy member, I see FCJ-Impact empowering for the laity. It has given my laity confidence that they can be effective ministers too.”

Although done over an 18-month period, FCJ-Impact involves nine Saturday learning sessions where teams from participating churches come together with an FCJ facilitator-coach.  Each local church is required to bring a significant number of lay people to each session– 20% of its congregation’s average worship attendance.  With such a large number of leaders from the congregation participating, the church is much more likely to apply the concepts and use the tools back home.

FCJ-Impact is beginning to expand.  Rev. Randy Anderson, Associate DS for the Southwest District, says that over 60 participants from five of his district’s churches gathered earlier this month at St. Peter’s UMC in Posey County to begin their FCJ-Impact journey.  He is anticipating another group to begin in another part of the district.

img_0519The group began their journey focusing on the alignment of vision and mission.  Participants shared their ideas and experiences, and then prepared a ministry action plan to work on in their local settings over the next two months.

Rev. Jeff Newton of Kokomo reflecting on his experience participating in the pilot group of churches said:  “This experience has transformed the five churches I lead. We have new direction, vision, and most of all HOPE!”  Praise God!

For more information about FCJ-Impact visit Church Development’s website.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

ymca-logoA YMCA under construction in Fort Wayne has jasoninvited St. Joseph United Methodist Church to launch a worshiping community in its new facility, which opens later this year.  The church, under the leadership of Rev. Russ Abel, has tapped its associate pastor, Jason Morris, to lead the project.  The Cabinet appointed Pastor Morris to the church last summer with the specific purpose of planting the new congregation.

There are other communities, such as Dayton, Ohio, in which similar relationships have developed between YMCAs and United Methodist churches, but we believe this is the first in Indiana.

The idea began years ago, when St. Joseph UMC voted to purchase 29 acres of land just a quarter of a mile east of the church’s landlocked property.  Rather than relocate the entire church to this larger site, which they named Praise Park, the church caught a vision of becoming a church with multiple locations, including Praise Park.

A few years ago, the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne decided to purchase land for a new location and the land chosen just happened to be adjacent to Praise Park.  After ongoing conversations, the Y and St. Joseph agreed to enter into a partnership.  The Y invited the church to launch a new weekly worship service in its new facility.  The church, on the other hand, invited the Y to use its acres of recreational fields at Praise Park.  And now Pastor Morris and St. Joseph have the opportunity to serve not only the estimated 8,000-10,000 new Y members who will be frequenting the Y’s new location, but also to serve the yet-to-be-reached population living nearby who would never be attracted to St. Joseph’s original facility.

God clearly had something beautiful in mind years ago for that part of Fort Wayne.  What future does God have in mind for your church and community?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development