Archive for January, 2014

Volunteer’s bill of rights

Posted: January 31, 2014 by efenster in Information
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logoHow does your church care for its unpaid servants (a.k.a. volunteers)?  Rev. Kevin Dekoninck, pastor of New Haven United Methodist Church, has helped by providing them with a “bill of rights.”  What would you add to their list?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

“Volunteer Bill of Rights”

Volunteers are a vital part of our church as they serve as the hands and feet of Jesus.  A volunteer not only helps a church fulfill its mission, but also allows the volunteer to grow in their love and service to the Lord.

As a volunteer at New Haven UMC you are entitled to the following rights:

  1. Receive a job description that adequately describes the position’s expectations
  1. Receive reasonable advance notice of upcoming committee meetings
  1. Be provided or directed to resources that will allow you to more effectively do your task
  1. The right to be notified of the term of office for your position
  1. The right to discontinue serving in your position when you no longer feel called to serve in that area
  1. Right to be treated as a fellow brother or sister in Christ
  1. Right  to give and receive feedback
  2. God has blessed us with the Sabbath, a day of rest.  In an effort to honor this day and keep it holy you have the right to attend Sunday worship without other church members talking to you about committee work.  If you are pulled into a conversation such as this, you have the right to ask that person to contact you on another day.

2014 trends and the church

Posted: January 24, 2014 by efenster in Ideas
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logoThe latest report from the Barna Group mentions three U.S. trends in 2014.  One is a loss of faith in public education, another is an increased concern for a culture that seems to accept violence as a normal part of life, and a third is the loss in the valuing church participation.

These touch my life very personally.  My wife and I have had a real concern that we Christians should support the public schools.  We have no regrets for sending our three sons to highly diverse urban public schools.  They were blessed with many Christian teachers (some United Methodist) who shaped their lives, and they were blessed with an incredibly rich diverse community–flaws and all.

One son is attending a university that just had a shooting on its campus.  Unfortunately our children grew up in a community where shootings happen.  In fact, our community experienced an all-time record number of homicides in 2013.  It has caused a significant amount of soul-searching within our community.  One former gang member attributed it to the fact our culture is accepting violence as not only a normal part of our lives but that it also gives status to both the victims and the perpetrators.

Finally, the Barna Report says that roughly a third of Americans believe attending church is important, another third believes it isn’t important, and the remaining third is ambivalent.  As one who believes in the value of church participation, I certainly am concerned about this trend–a trend which has existed the past 30 years.

To what degree might this final trend be linked to the first two?  Could it be that the more churches are addressing the first two trends, that a growing number will value church participation?  I hear of more and more churches that are focusing their resources on supporting their local public schools.  I hear of fewer churches responding to the growing acceptance of violence in our culture.  Obviously “Jesus is the answer!”  Yet, how do those of us in the church, those of us who are followers of Jesus, be salt and light, especially in these trends?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


CCI LogoAfter at least a decade of signs that the institutional church is on the decline, there is some hopeful news…

According to Warren Bird and Ed Stetzer in their book, Viral Churches (Leadership Network), for the first time in years American churches are planting more churches than they’re closing.   Additionally, in 2012 The United Methodist Church (in the U.S.) had its first increase in Professions of Faith after eleven straight years of decline.  And, there is a sense among leaders in the Indiana Conference that its churches are become more outwardly focused thanks, at least in large part, to its Fruitful Congregation Journey effort.

Although the number of church planting projects in 2012 didn’t exceed the number of Indiana Conference churches that closed, there are a growing number of church planting efforts going on, including the following:

Jeffersonville Riverside UMC.  Leader:  Daniel Payton.  South District.

Plainfield The Branches UMC.  Leader:  Alex Hershey.  Central District.

Indianapolis Casa de Dios (second campus of Fort Wayne Getsemani UMC).  Leader:  Marisa Calleja.  Central District.

Hammond Torre Fuerta (Strong Tower) Hispanic UMC relocating to East Chicago.  It also has a second congregation called Rio de Gracias that meets at Hobart Trinity UMC.  Leaders:  Esequiel and Suri Becerra.  North District.

South Bend Monson Community UMC‘s storefront United Methodist Church for All People, South Bend.  Leader:  Tim Aydelotte.  North District.

Fort Wayne Kristo’s Hands and Feet, a missional plant by St. Joseph UMC.  Leader:  Steve Mekaru.  Northeast District.

Add Bishop Mike Coyner’s vision of starting a hundred new worshiping opportunities in Indiana, and one can easily sense that the future of The United Methodist Church, at least in Indiana, is encouraging and hopeful.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Leadership covenants

Posted: January 3, 2014 by efenster in Information
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UnknownQuiz:  If two horses can pull 9,000 pounds, how many pounds can four horses pull?  One would think the answer is 18,000 pounds, but according to one source it is actually more than 30,000 pounds!  How can that be?  It’s on account of the synergy that results from teamwork.

Those of us on the Indiana Conference Church Development staff work as a team and we model teamwork.  This means that most of what we do is done through teams, and we encourage churches and church plants we work with to form teams to carry out their efforts.

A team, however, is truly a team only if it is working together.  Four horses can’t pull 30,000 if they aren’t pulling the same direction.  To work as a team, each member must have a clear understanding of the tasks they are trying to carry out and to work with shared core values.  Teams with these two ingredients truly will experience synergy!

Additionally, it is helpful for teams to commit to a covenant that will guide them as they work together.  This covenant helps create a culture of trust, which is necessary for any healthy team.  Below is an example of the team covenant that the Church Development staff has committed to.

So are you leading solo or do you do ministry through teams?  What key teams should you develop in 2014?  Have you developed a leadership covenant for your teams?  If not, consider establishing them.  And as a result, begin to do ministry with incredible synergy!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Church Development Team Covenant

All we do is for the sake of the mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

In working together, we promise to:  ABC PLUS

Accountability.  We hold each other accountable.

Best.  We share our best ideas and give our best effort.

Confidentiality.  We keep what is confidential, confidential.

Pray.  We pray for each other, the conference, and the mission.

Loyalty.  We can count on each other’s loyalty—“I have your back, and you have mine.”

Understand & listen.  We seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

Support.  We may disagree but once a decision is made we support it 100%–buy in.