Why has McNatt United Methodist Church in rural northeast Indiana nearly tripled in size the past two years? It still has the same part-time pastor, Rev. Bill Van Haften, who’s served the church the past 18 years. It still is located on the same county road, far from any town. It still has the same organist and pianist (who’s 85 years old!). So what happened? Why is it attracting lots of new people, including families with young children?
Pastor Van Haften says a great deal has to do with the church’s focus. It is pretty much focused on prayer and serving others, including folk outside the church, and not much else. This focus on prayer is central to the church. In fact, the church’s Pastor-Parish Relations Committee leads in this area. It meets twice a month to pray! Prayer is central to the Sunday morning worship service. When someone is in the hospital, the congregation holds their hands toward the direction of the hospital and prays for that person. And, they always want to know the results!
A retired pastor, Rev. Fred Kellogg, began praying for the church to experience revival twelve years ago. Pastor Van Haften says that it’s happening. The church now has a dozen or so who help preach, each time a new ministry is started it explodes with growth, they’ve just hired a young member to serve as youth director, and attendance has risen from 40 to 110 each Sunday. The pastor says he’s never seen a church so much of one mind–on praying and serving and worshiping God.
Does your church have a clear focus? Is prayer a part of it?
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development