Archive for November, 2012

Leaders make disciples

Posted: November 29, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

I recently heard that a church leader isn’t a real leader unless they are making disciples.  After all, that is our mission as United Methodists, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.   So are you a leader?  Are you making disciples?

I struggle with this because I’m a church-a-holic.  I spend nearly all my time with Christians, in particular United Methodists.  I work for the UMC, I hang out with other Christians, and I feel most comfortable being with church folk.  Yet, Jesus was always going out to those on the edges–tax collectors, Samaritan women–and He calls us to do the same.

I ask for your prayers.  I’m a recovering church-a-holic and I am learning to do better in the discipling process.   I’ve prayed for God to help me see those whom God is counting on me to disciple.  This fall I’ve buddied up with two new neighbors, both of whom are young adults struggling with alcoholism.  I met each of them while walking my dog.  Pray that they experience God’s Good News through me.  Pray that they grow in their relationship with Christ and that I will too.

I was at a church-planters training event recently where I heard this statement:  “Don’t start churches to make disciples, start churches by making disciples” (Dr. Dave DeVries).  What a powerful statement!  And very appropriate for me because I’m part of a new-church plant in my neighborhood.  The church is particularly targeting low income persons who are in need of  recovery and wholeness.  It’s no accident God has connected me to my two neighbor friends.  And there are many others besides them.

So, who is God counting on you to journey with?  Who are you called to help disciple?  If you have a person or persons in mind, may God continue to help you build relationships with them, including relationships with Jesus Christ.  If you don’t have anyone, pray the prayer that I have been praying.  Pray that God would put in your path persons who are in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Then keep your eyes peeled while you walk your dog.  And then go, get to know them, and let them in our wonderful news!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


Stan Buck: What a guy!

Posted: November 20, 2012 by efenster in Stories

Church Development lost one of its greatest advocates with the passing of Rev. Stan Buck, who recently died due to cancer.  Few had Stan’s deep passion for reaching the lost through the planting of churches and the establishment of new congregations.   Yes, he served for years on the Conference Church Development Committee, helping us allocate grants for new-church plants and assessing potential church planters.  But Stan went well beyond simply serving on a conference committee.  He practiced what he preached!

Of course, Sonrise United Methodist Church was a big part of that.  Twenty-five years ago Stan recruited lots of volunteers–including my wife and me–to make thousands of phone calls, inviting people to be a part of a new southwest Fort Wayne church.  The church quickly grew.  In his doctoral thesis he wrote this remembrance:

“Today was a special day! Our new church celebrated its first anniversary of worship–314 were present! It was an exciting day!! It really has been a joy to serve as founding pastor of this exciting new church. I pray that God will give us many years of fruitful ministry here. It is thrilling to look ahead and see the possibilities which lie ahead. (4 Dec. 1988)”

Stan believed in church planting so much that his church not only started new worship services to reach more people, it began launching additional campuses–first one in Roanoke and then a second on the city’s north side.  No doubt he had a hand in what is on Sonrise’s website regarding this.  It says:

“More campuses equal more people who know God!  We don’t get hung up on numbers but we do get hung up on people.  People matter to God so they matter to us!  While our strategy and methods are important, “WHY” we exist is a much bigger deal to us.”

And his legacy goes on. 

Well, done brother Stan.  Thank you for your years of service.  Thank you for pushing us on the Conference Church Development Committee, for asking the tough questions, for keeping church planting a priority.  Thank you, Stan.  We’re going to miss you…

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

P.S.  See you on the other side in Glory!

Playing without the Queen

Posted: November 15, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

I recently attended training for church planters and heard a new expression:  “Playing without the queen.”  The presenter, from the Church Multiplication Training Center, explained that if one really wants to learn to play chess, he should allow his queen–the most powerful piece on the board–to be taken by his opponent early on so that he will be forced to learn to play with his remaining pieces.

For a church planter, the queen represents the weekly worship service.  Once you launch public worship, your limited time, energy, and resources will need to be directed on producing and sustaining ongoing weekly services.   Many church planters rely on their public worship too much, neglecting things like studying and connecting with those outside in the mission field, engaging the church members in outreach and disciplemaking, etc.  So advice for church planters:  Play without the queen for as long as possible.

Does this same dynamic exist in established churches too?  What might the “queen” represent in your church?  What is it in your church that demands most of your church’s resources?  What is it that is pulling your church’s attention inward, away from its mission to make disciples and transform its community?  What would it look like if your church played without the queen?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Leading by listening

Posted: November 6, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

I just served on a Fruitful Congregation Journey consultation team for a local United Methodist church.  My role on the team was to serve as the church’s coach.  I have worked with literally hundreds of churches over the past 17 years, but primarily as a consultant and facilitator.  Coaching requires the art of listening and asking the appropriate questions at the right time.  It’s an art that I plan to continue to learn and practice. 

Last week I had the privilege of hearing George Barna, founder of the Barna Group, speak on leadership.  He said that “one of the most under-valued and least common skills among leaders is listening.”  He went on to ask the following questions:

1. To listen will you commit the time and energy?

2. Are you willing to have your mind changed?

3. Did you consider what they did not say?

4. Can you replay the message and allow them to edit it?

5. How does their message fit your goals or potential?

What questions would you add?  As a leader yourself, won’t you join me in becoming a better listener too?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development