Change the World!

Posted: October 25, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

“To whom has your church been sent?  If it can’t answer this question, it’s not in the game,” according to Michael Frost who was a featured speaker at this year’s Change the World Conference sponsored by Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. 

He went on to say that the primary purpose in life is that all of us declare that “Our God reigns!”  (Isaiah 52:7)  But he cautioned that we don’t bring in the reign of God but simply help our friends and neighbors to see it.  We’re like the trailer shown in a movie theater giving a preview of a coming blockbuster.  We aren’t the blockbuster, but simply help alert people to it.  So to whom are you and your church sent to bring this good news? 

In another presentation at the conference, which was held Oct. 18-19, 2012, Michael Slaughter, senior pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC, challenged us to think small rather than big.  In fact, he said that a regional church, like Ginghamsburg, is only able to offer psuedo-community because many can’t become a part of real community–such as participating in the church’s Life Groups–since they live so far away.  They attend the church’s worship services but that’s about it.  He encourages churches to consider a pedestrian model, targeting the 15-block area around its building.  (That would obviously translate differently for churches in rural locations.)

Ginghamsburg UMC, under Rev. Slaughter’s leadership, is practicing this concept.  In 2008, the church took over a dying United Methodist Church in Dayton.  The 40 remaining members primarily drove in from outside Fort McKinley UMC’s neighborhood.  Ginghamsburg brought new leadership with healthy DNA and is transforming the church and the 15-block area around it.  The church now has three weekly worship services reaching over 400 people, its building 25 homes nearby, and has helped its neighbors discover their assets and empowered them to use them in ministry, investing them in their neighborhood.  As a result, the area’s crime has moved away.  So, the Fort McKinley Church has started a new congregation called The Point UMC, in a location where the crime seemed to go and now they’re groing a new church there that is transforming its 15-block area.

Instead of being the largest church in the area, Slaughter challenges churches to focus on churching their area.  So, to whom has your church been sent?  Don’t get left out of the game!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


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