Archive for July, 2015

Kristo's-131020aSt. Joseph United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been spearheading a non-attractional church plant on the Fort Wayne’s south side the past few years called Kristo’s Hands and Feet.  Steve Mekura, the effort’s leader, recently reviewed an updated discipling plan with leaders from St. Joseph.  What the leaders discovered was that Kristo’s wasn’t a project that simply flowed from the mature Christians of St. Joseph to the non-believers and new believers in the south part of town.  God turned it around and now the Kristo’s project is actually challenging and shaping how St. Joseph members view disciple making where they live too.  Typically God, huh?

Here are comments from one St. Joseph member…

“The conversation completely changed for me when Steve started describing his formalized discipleship plan.  My heart was not open to the idea.  I thought our mission field is filled with people that often aren’t home, miss events, etc… there is no way we’re going to be able to convince them to stick to such a plan. I was skeptical that the idea of laying it out in such an intentional way, to people who have only begun to walk with or understand Christ, was way too much to ask.

“Then I started thinking about myself, “How would I react if someone from our church leadership asked the same of me?” What if there was something to hold me accountable for areas my personal spiritual growth is struggling and how I could be discipling others – which would both elevate my growth and impact others.  The thought was still terrifying and seemed like a huge undertaking – but the possibility of the growth it could bring began to be exciting.

“Then the conversation turned to responsibility … if I’m spiritually responsible for discipling those around me through the church activities I participate in, how does that change the way I act? What if everyone had that change in mentality, so that we are all discipling each other?  Putting aside the community for a moment, how would that change the culture of Saint Joseph?  What would it look like if instead of saying, “I get to hang out at camp with 27 senior high youth,” the conversation changed to the challenge of discipling them?  What if when we returned from camp, someone held me accountable for each person and asked what conversations I had with them … how I helped them grow for Jesus.  It would change the dynamic completely.  It could change the dynamic of Saint Joseph completely.  If it spread across Fort Wayne, it would change Fort Wayne completely.

“I commented that following Christ was never supposed to be easy, but we tend to make it very easy.  Maybe it’s time to make it more of a challenge.  Steve’s comment about ministry doesn’t end when he crosses Coliseum stuck with me too.  We need to be engaged in ministry at all times.

“The way God is leading us is consistent with what I felt at camp this year as well.  God loved us first, which the speaker turned into a verb: firstlove.  My takeaway from that week was, “Firstlove. Love first.” If we combine a genuine love for everyone with an intentional missionality focused on making true disciples, the possibilities are pretty exciting.

“Now, we do have to be careful not to make ministry a corporate chore. It still needs to flow out of a joy and not a duty … but if God is giving us joy by serving him, it may be important to formally recognize that comes with duty and responsibility as well. – Ryan”

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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Do we believe in miracles?

Posted: July 20, 2015 by efenster in Ideas
Tags: , , ,

IMAG0471Do you believe in miracles?  I’m reading a book, entitled Reclaiming the Great Commission, by Bishop Claude Payne and Hamilton Beazley, about an Episcopalian judicatory in Texas that revitalized.  One of its foundational values is a belief in miracles, that God is still in the miracle business.

The past two weeks, Time to Revive has been conducting a city-wide evangelization effort in Fort Wayne, with lively celebration and worship each evening.  This interfaith movement has as one of its foundational values a belief in miracles.  The worship service I attended included testimonies from that day’s evangelistic efforts.  These testimonies included a youth who healed a man’s knee pain, and a man who was in a dumpster when a Revive team found him.  Both witnessed to miraculous transformation as a result of Jesus Christ.

The miraculous even touched a family in the church I attend in Fort Wayne.  One of our members had been praying for 40 years that his brother and sister-in-law would accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and–as a result of a Revive team–they did this past Saturday.  Praise God!

So why don’t we experience miracles as often as we might?  For me, I think it’s because I’m not really expecting them, expecting them as much as the Texas judicatory and Time to Revive folk do.  What about you?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

  • The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can legally marry in all fifty states
  • The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care)
  • The Confederate flag came under withering attack, after the tragic Charleston shootings
  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced that there are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers
  • President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuban governments were re-establishing embassies

Moments like this happen every decade or so, don’t they?  The falling of the Berlin wall.  The 9/11 terrorist attack. Who would have thought the above would happen, let alone in such a short period of time.  I told my children that they will probably remember the news from the last ten days the rest of their lives.

Unknown-1Not only did these events create a sensation of the surreal for me and my family, a four-day power outage due to a huge rainstorm also contributed.  And in the midst of all of this, representatives of the U.S.’s youngest generation, stood on opposite corners of an intersection in our neighborhood.  Without TV, videos, and other electrical entertainment, one group of children gathered on one corner, another group on the opposite corner, and they held a yelling contest right there in the middle of a summer day.  Back to the most basic entertainment that kids over the centuries have enjoyed.

It got me to thinking about our churches.  How do we respond to the swirling changes that are so often in the news each day?  The rise of the “nones,” the “dones,” and in an article I read just today, the “gones.”  The decline of the mainline Protestant churches.  The United Methodist Church.  Our increasingly secularized culture.  Maybe we need to take a cue from my neighborhood’s children and return to the basics of what it means to be the church.  Maybe we need to let go of our desire to sustain our institution, give up our rummage sales, bazaars, and fish fries, take our eyes off ourselves and what we want, and give ourselves away–loving God and others as passionately as the church of the first century did…and the children in my neighborhood as they were screaming.  Think about it…

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development