Archive for February, 2016

Time for spring cleaning?

Posted: February 29, 2016 by efenster in Ideas
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DSC_CrocusCall it spring cleaning.  I just threw out nearly two file drawers of Church Development files.  Why did it take me ten years to do this?  Unlike my wife, I’m a thrower.  So, why would a “thrower” cling to over ten years of paper files in an electronic age?  Perhaps I’m sentimental.  To read meeting minutes, consultation studies, and workshop notes dealing with ministries that I was personally involved in makes it hard to toss them into the recycling bin.

The Redevelopment Venture Process, a forerunner of the Fruitful Congregation Journey church revitalization process, and Sending of the Saints, which preceded the more recent One Hundred Points of Light outreach effort, involved significant effort and countless hours, involving friends and colleagues in ministry.  The files were the last reminders of those days.  And now they’re gone.

Is your church a saver or a thrower?  Is it time for you and your church to do some spring cleaning too?  What is it that you’re clinging to that has served its purpose and is no longer relevant, but because it’s familiar and there’s emotional attachment, you’re still holding on to it?  Jesus said that we need to put new wine into new wineskins.  For the sake of Jesus’ call and the church’s mission, may we have the courage and gumption to let go of our old wineskins and embrace the new.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

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Jesus spoke of the power of giving a person a cup of cold water, a seemly insignificant act of kindness.  With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the gift of clean water is anything but insignificant.  Although the government and other agencies are providing water for residents, an I.D. is required in most cases.  This requirement, in particular, has meant that many residents without I.D.s haven’t been able to get help.

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Thanks to Christians who take Jesus’ words about giving the gift of water literally, truckloads of bottled water are being distributed by churches to anyone in Flint; no I.D. is required.  Recently  one of the Indiana Conference’s new church plants, Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower), led by Esequiel and Suri Becerra, joined forces with a nearby Chicago-area church and delivered a truckload of donated bottled water.

James says, “Faith without deeds is dead.”  Clearly the Torre Fuerte congregation and many others take this seriously.  What about your congregation?  How is it putting its faith in action?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

More than just names…

Posted: February 5, 2016 by efenster in Ideas
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36449_10150216514260268_5853402_nTim and Tera.  Two people who became more than just names for me this morning.

The past thirteen years I’ve volunteered for a Fort Wayne ministry called Inasmuch, that serves our city’s poor.  After sitting with countless numbers of people over the years, hearing their stories, and praying with them, it would be easy to become cynical, hard-hearted, and judgmental.  But for me, each person has a name, they have a unique story, and this helps me to treat each one as special, precious children of God.

So this morning Tim and Tera became more than just another couple poor persons needing help, they became real people struggling with the challenges of life.  Tim lives in a tent down by a nearby river.  He’s homeless.  It was 20 degrees this morning and he likely spent the night outside.  Tera is a young single mom who’s expecting her second child this summer.  She is looking for a job and needed help with her past due rent.

I don’t know how they ended up in the situations that they’re in.  And I don’t have any easy answers or quick solutions to give them.  Even if Tim and Tera get on their feet and become financially self sufficient, they’ll be other people with different names who will find themselves struggling with the challenges of life too.

Yet, the encounters that we have with people facing challenges offer us a chance to remind them, as well as ourselves, that we have a loving creator who knows our names, that we worship a God of second chances.  And as a result, we all can be people who are a little more hopeful and encouraged.  For we each have a name and a story and are special in God’s eyes, all of us including Tim and Tera.  Knowing that, no doubt, will help us as we face new challenges yet to come.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development