Archive for April, 2015

logoWe know there is a growing percentage of our population nationwide that is unchurched–those who haven’t attended church in the past six months.  How does Indiana’s population compare with other parts of the country?

Well, Barna Research just released the results of a ten-year study that indicates that four media areas in Indiana have a significant percentage of unchurched persons.  The study shows that 33% of the people living in the Fort Wayne media area are unchurched, 31% in the Indianapolis area, 28% in the South Bend-Elkhart area, and 27% in the Evansville area.

In comparison, New York City is 48% unchurched, Chicago is 39%, and Nashville, TN, is 20%.  Of the 117 media areas studied, the San Francisco Bay area has the highest percentage of unchurched at 61%, and the Augusta, GA, Aiken, SC area had the lowest at 13%.

So you may be thinking, “Indiana’s percentages aren’t that bad.”  Yet,  for most of the country, including right here in Indiana, Jesus words that the “fields are ripe unto the harvest” still apply whether the percentage is 27% or 33%.  Our response will likely be that we’re going to have to join them where they are, incarnating the  Good News rather than expecting them to first show up at our churches.

It’s all about us churched folk intentionally building relationships with them.  One way we can do that is by “blessing” them…

Be present

Listen and ask questions

Eat and drink with them

Say prayers for them

Share the Good News when the opportunities arise

So what would happen if all us churched folk took our churches into our neighborhoods, schools, and places of work and began blessing those God regularly puts in our paths.  We might just ultimately see those percentages mentioned above go down.

The Indiana Conference also plans to launch 30+ churches by the year 2020 to better reach the unchurched.  Perhaps you and your church will be involved in one of these starts.  I hope so!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Are you all in?

Posted: April 3, 2015 by efenster in Ideas
Tags: , , , , ,

cross-collage-1409273-mAs I approach Easter, I have this recurring question, “Am I all in?”  Am I sold out completely for Jesus and the sake of His mission?  I ask this not only for myself, but also for my three sons who are young adults.  Who will they live for?  They are such gifted young men.  Yes, they attend church.  But will they devote their lives to Jesus and the mission, living that out in whatever vocation they pursue?

I ask this also for our churches.  Will our churches be totally sold out to Jesus and His mission?  Will they really mean it when they pray, “Thy will be done?”  Or will they hang on to their sacred cows and personal preferences?  I think of the church of Laodice, which is described in the book of Revelation as being neither “hot nor cold.”   Such lukewarm churches are spit out!

We live in a society that preaches that it is all about us and what we want.  Our personal preferences trump everything else.  Following Jesus turns this upside down.  It’s not about us and what we want at all.  It’s all about Jesus and His mission.

So as we read the scriptures about Jesus and His disciples who abandoned him when he needed them most, who couldn’t even stay awake while he prayed, what about us?  Are we too like them, or are we totally sold out to Jesus and His mission–not lukewarm, but blazingly hot, willing to sacrifice all to the one who sacrificed it all for us.  May we be all in this Easter!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development