Archive for November, 2014

IMG_1417rev-300x152The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church (UMC) recently featured an Indiana UMC for its outstanding record of discipleship.  Congratulations to Evangelical UMC in Huntington and its pastor Rev. Marti Lundy!   Way to go!   For the rest of us, consider discussing with your church the reflection questions at the end of this article, which was reprinted with the permission of the GBOD.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Romans 12 Newsletter
Issue #212
November 21, 2014

Mission Here at Home
Evangelical United Methodist Church in Huntington, Indiana is located in an area that continues to decline in population and economics. Yet this congregation, which averages 215 in worship, is one of only 117 United Methodist congregations in the United States to have had three straight years (2010, 2011, 2012) in which there was at least one profession of faith, five people in Covenant Discipleship Groups, at least 10 participants in Vacation Bible School, at least one community outreach ministry and one mission team. The congregation has also experienced increases in attendance in worship and spiritual formation opportunities for all ages, all while also paying 100% or more of apportionments.

Each January the staff, church council members, and other church leaders gather for a training day on a Saturday. This day functions partly as orientation for new leaders and partly as a time of visioning and setting direction by all of the leaders in the congregation, lay and clergy. At the 2012 training day, church council leaders noted that the congregation had a strong history of financial support and sending mission teams to a variety of mission projects outside of Huntington. However, as a congregation they were doing very little to help their people engage with the wider community. They resolved to change that.

Since that decision to connect with their community, the congregation:

*   adopted an elementary school where their Director of Spiritual Formation is the principal
*   laid the groundwork to create “Mission Huntington,” a weeklong initiative launched in 2013 and repeated in 2014. Both years over 100 volunteers from the congregation, which averages 215 in worship, gave over 2000 hours of time in collaboration with local community agencies to provide hands-on service in the community
*   hosted a Vacation Bible School program that serves families in low-income apartment housing a few blocks from the church. Out of that experience they have also hosted occasional “family reading nights” in several of the apartment complexes
*   sponsored a first-annual cookout to appreciate local firefighters and police for their service in the community.

Pastor Marti Lundy noted a number of church members have said things like “I’ve lived in Huntington for a long time. But only now do I feel like I’m part of this community.”

Questions for Reflection:

1.  How are the people of your congregation currently engaged in mission in your local community?
2.  How does the church focus its leadership and resources to support the missional work people already do, as well as build opportunities for more people to become engaged?

Taylor Burton-Edwards is the Director of Worship Resources at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tennessee. You can contact him attburtonedwards@gbod.org<mailto:tburtonedwards@gbod.org>.

Produced by the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church to communicate effective principles and practices demonstrated by congregations that are actively making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
These congregations are marked by:

*   Clarity around the mission and vision of the congregation
*   Practice of spiritual disciplines, both corporately and individually
*   Nurture in growth in discipleship through mutual support and accountability
*   Cultivation of intentional and mutual relationships with the most vulnerable—the poor, children, the imprisoned, the powerless.
*   Consistent concern for inviting people into relationship with Jesus Christ, combined with wise practices for initiating them into the body of Christ
*   Connectional relationships that facilitate participation in God’s mission of global transformation
*   Shared clergy and lay leadership.

Does your church need helping funding its revitalization effort?  Then take a look at this grant opportunity…

NEWS RELEASE

Discipleship Ministries Communications Office
Steve Horswill-Johnston, Executive Director
(615) 340-1726 (O) (615) 429-3431 (C)
stevehj@gbod.org
Grants Available to Spark Creative Vital Congregation Growth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Nov. 18, 2014  /Discipleship Ministries/  – Grants totaling $200,000 are now available from Discipleship Ministries to encourage local churches, annual conferences and central conferences to experiment with innovative and creative approaches to growing vital congregations.
The grants seek to spur quantifiable growth in worship attendance, professions of faith, small groups, mission engagement and missional giving.

“Offering these experimentation grants across the connection hopefully will nurture more creativity among our church leaders to seek ways to grow grace-filed Christ followers through worship, small groups, mission and stewardship,” said Dr. Timothy L. Bias, General Secretary (chief executive) of Discipleship Ministries. “Our hope is that these innovative efforts to increase vital congregations will result in more opportunities for people to grow in discipleship in and through The United Methodist Church.”

Underwritten by the Connectional Table’s World Service Contingency Fund, the grants are part of a churchwide effort to increase the number of highly vital congregations 15 percent by 2016.

The experimental funds are being offered to help any local church, annual conference or central conference develop new projects or events to inspire vital congregation growth.

The grant application asks these questions:

•    What are the outcomes of the event/project? How will you measure them?
•    How will the event/project assist in the development of vital congregations, within the context of the church’s four areas of focus – raising up principled leaders, new places for new people, ministry with the poor and global health concerns?
•    Describe how the event/project assists in the development of vital congregations through the process of carrying out our mission found in paragraph 122 of the Book of Discipline?

To obtain a grant application, contact Jeffrey Campbell, Director of Annual Conference Relationships at Discipleship Ministries, at jcampbell@gbod.org.

The grant application deadline is Jan. 30, 2015.

The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, Discipleship Ministries is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit http://www.gbod.org, the Press Center at http://www.gbod.org/about/press-center or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.

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Alan-Hirsch-New-PhotoAll Indiana United Methodist churches–pastors and lay teams–are invited to a special event, Dec. 6th, focusing on how we can put the “movement” back in Methodism.  Yes, Methodism once was a movement.  According to historian Nathan Hatch, at the beginning of the American Revolution Methodists represented 2.5% of the country’s population; by 1850 it had grown to 34%!  (See footnote.)

Yet, The United Methodist Church has been on the decline in America well before the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren merger in 1968.  In fact, in Indiana just last year, of the 1127 United Methodist churches reporting 2013 statistics

  • 50% didn’t report receiving a new member by profession of faith
  • 58% didn’t report an infant baptism
  • 67% didn’t report an adult baptism

What has happened?  What helped create the movement?  How might we become a movement again?  Come to a special event on  Saturday, Dec. 6th, from 10am-3pm at St. Lukes UMC in Indianapolis, featuring Alan Hirsch.  Hirsch is the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network and a sought-after speaker and trainer who travels the world extensively sharing his missional church experience.

Click on Hirsch Event registration for more information, registration, a video of Alan Hirsch speaking about discipleship, and more.

I hope you plan to bring a team from your church!  — Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

(Nathan Hatch, “The Puzzle of American Methodism”, 1994, pp. 178-9)