Archive for June, 2014

The Fruitful Congregation Journey…

  • The whole course is packed with BIG takeaways.
  • Our FCJ team had opportunities to discuss and form ideas to lead our church forward!
  • I have learned so much through FCJ.  This is working in our church already.  Praise the Lord!
  • In addition to what this program will do for our church, it has revitalized my faith life.  Thank you.
  • Our meetings were never boring.  Always looked forward to our Saturday gatherings.
  • As I have told our congregations, the Fruitful Congregation Journey has really changed the way I think about so many things we do in the church.  This has been life changing for me.

These are just a few comments from first-year participants in the Fruitful Congregation Journey, a process which helps churches more effeFCJ Logo-600dpictively fulfill their mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  So far, over 200 United Methodist churches in Indiana have participated in this three-step church revitalization process.

The first step, called the Shared Learning Experience, takes teams from participating churches through seven monthly sessions.  Each session focuses on a particular aspect of effective church ministry.  Participants read a book prior to each session and then debrief that session back home with their pastor and others on their FCJ team.

A new group of churches is beginning the Shared Learning Experience this September.  There is still space available, so if your averages 50 or more people in worship and your church is interested in participating, please  email me at  There will be groups meeting this year in the following locations:  Chesterton, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Martinsville, Greensburg, and Evansville.

If your church averages less than 50 in worship, hold tight.  We’re developing a special version of FCJ that we’ll be pilot-testing this fall with a group of churches.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.52.24 PMWhat is the biggest concern of United Methodist laity according to a recent survey commissioned by UM Communications?  Our mission!  Nearly four out of ten respondents said that “creating disciples of Christ” is the first or second most important issue facing the church.

There are so many other things that easily distract us from our mission–our buildings, aging congregations, declines in worship attendance and giving.  In addition, there are voices that are placing issues of sexuality at the center of conversation, some even calling for church schism.  Yet, despite all of this, a significant percentage of laity are primarily concerned with us accomplishing our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

This certainly doesn’t mean other issues–poverty, social injustice, and sexual orientation/same-sex marriage–aren’t important too.  They’re simply not the main thing, our primary agenda.  They may be a part of it, but not the main thing.  And as I heard Rev. John Ed Mathison, former pastor of Frazer Memorial UMC, say many years ago, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  Especially in this day in which the institutional church is becoming more and more marginalized, we can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development



Goal to launch 30 new UMCs in Indiana!

Posted: June 5, 2014 by efenster in Uncategorized

CCI LogoThirty new churches by 2020…that’s a goal set by the Church Development Team for the Indiana Conference.  The hope is for the conference to exceed its present church-planting rate.  The Indiana Conference has had about 25 new-church plants over the past 15 years.  So, the goal the next six years is to triple this rate.  To do that will require significant partnership with all the United Methodist churches in the conference.

  • It will require intentional prayer support.
  • It will require partnering with churches that already have a vision for developing new congregations.
  • It will require identifying lay and clergy leaders who have the attributes of a church planter.
  • And it will require raising additional funding.

To that end, we’re launching an initiative called, “Exceed,” whose purpose is to generate an additional funding stream beyond the present sources.  All funds given through Exceed, an Advanced Special of the Indiana Conference, will go solely to help fund new-church plants and off-site/new campuses of existing churches.  You’ll be hearing more about this in the future!

Right now you can participate by praying for this effort, becoming a financial supporter of Exceed by signing up at the website,  helping identify potential church planters, and exploring the possibility of your church perhaps sponsoring one of these 30 new churches.

Why is this so important?  Because studies show that new churches are much more likely reach new persons for Christ than existing ones.  Churches tend to go through life cycles.  The older a church is the more inward focus it becomes.  A new church is totally focused on reaching its mission field.

So, won’t you partner with us?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development





The Exceed Initiative is a ministry whose purpose is to generate new funding to start new churches in Indiana. The Exceed Initiative will raise $1.5 million to cover the launch of 30 new reproducing faith communities by 2020. New faith communities are the most effective way to reach unreached people. This initiative is a call to action for you and others to exceed your normal church giving by supporting this cause either through a one-time give or regular on-going support.


The Conference Church Development committee will be responsible for vetting each new faith community and expending the funds to discover, develop, and deploy into action passionate spiritual leaders and teams.  The Exceed Initiative offers 7 ways to give. Details are available on the website. Since 2009, this team has invested more than $1.3M in grants toward establishing new congregations, worship services, and faith communities. In order to reach our goal of starting 30 new faith communities, however, it will be necessary to raise additional funds each year through Exceed.


We’re counting on leaders like you and God, “…who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)