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

 

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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
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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

We celebrate two new faith communities that launched this month.  Pfrimmer’s Chapel UMC in Corydon, Indiana, launched its fifth Mercy Street congregation September 8th at the New Albany High School.  Pastor Tim Johnson reports that 50 people attended the initial gathering, which targets persons recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.  The church is planning to launch its sixth Mercy Street next month targeting youth grades 6th-8th grade.

IMG_0578On September 10th, St. Joseph UMC in Fort Wayne launched its Aspire congregation that is led by Pastor Jason Morris and meets in a new YMCA facility adjacent to the church’s Praise Park property.  Seventy attended the opening service.  Morris says that a number of unchurched people returned with their friends the following week, bumping attendance to nearly 90 people.  (Church Development is pleased to be providing a grant to help fund this effort.)

Praise God!  And let’s keep these efforts in our prayers.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

ABetterLifeThe following article comes from Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Lafayette…

Last year, Jamie came to our A Better Life – Brianna’s Hope (ABLBH) chapter shortly after coming to town, homeless and with all his possessions in two garbage bags.  He stayed in a local halfway house, relapsed, and went to a different halfway house.  All the while, he came to ABLBH.  This weekend, he voluntarily stood up in Sunday worship to testify to how God brought him through his struggle, to his renewal of baptism, to the fact that he has a job, an apartment, and visitation with his son.  He thanked the congregation for their love and support and for offering ABLBH.   He has stepped onto our Team Hope (leadership team) at ABLBH.

But that’s not the best part.  Today, he visited another person in recovery in the hospital following surgery because ‘it’s what we do.’

Glory to God, from whom all blessings flow!
Lore
(Read the prior post for more about how God is working in Grace and other UMCs in Lafayette.)