Archive for June, 2019

As a delegate to the 2019 General Conference, I waited for years for the conference to arrive. I read nearly 900 individual emails from pastors and laity concerned about our church and its impending decision regarding homosexuality. I met with other delegates, read thousands of pages of reports, opinions and perspectives, and above all prayed and reflected.

That long anticipated General Conference (GC) came and went. Nearly everyone on both sides of the issue left with a sense of brokenness, loss and pain. Initially I felt as though the 2019 GC was a wasted effort. We just did what we’ve done the past forty years, kicked the can down the road. Now that months have passed, I believe that, ugly and painful though it was, it was necessary for our church to go through the 2019 GC session.

So many people have been praying: God lead us! Holy Spirit guide our steps! Who’s to say that our prayers haven’t been answered and that’s exactly what God is doing? In a book I’m reading, Calling: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy, the author mentions that the Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine, who was awarded the Nobel prize, says that “friction is a fundamental property of nature and nothing grows without it.” The author goes on to say: “We must therefore be willing to get shaken up, to summit ourselves to the dark blossoming of chaos, in order to reap the blessings of growth.”

Well, I would say the 2019 GC and its aftermath has done a great job of doing just that! Some are anticipating a repeat of the 2019 GC at next year’s GC session. By electing more from the other side, we will legislate our way through this mess–again. Others are anticipating the breakup of our denomination. Could it be that God is going to surprise us? Could it just be that we have to slog through this “dark chaos” (that definitely has “blossomed!) in order to get to where we need to go?

So what do we do? Continue to pray. Pray for our newly elected delegates. Pray for openness of heart and mind to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and open our ears that we might listen well. And as we go through these days, may we strive to do no harm. May we passionately pursue the mission to which we’ve been called. For me that means continuing to join God in the multiplication movement that is moving across the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church. Pedal to the metal is my mantra these days! What’s yours?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Have you already been to Fresh Expressions training? Are you ready for additional help? Or, are you new to this biblical-based outreach approach and you want to know more about it? In either case, you will find attending Fresh Expressions “Round Table” training, June 29th, helpful.

A Round Table is a three-hour session focused on helping a church design and develop a Fresh Expressions outreach effort in its community.

The Indiana Conference is holding two Round Tables, on June 29th.  One will be held at Covenant UMC in Fort Wayne from 8:30-11:30am (Eastern) and one will be held at Fishers UMC in Fishers from 2:00-5:00pm (Eastern).

This training will be ideal for a team from a church to attend together. Both sessions will cover the same material.   The cost to attend is $15 per person.  Sessions will be led by experienced practitioners from Fresh Expressions U.S.  To register for either event, click here.

The Fresh Expressions model has been shown to be a highly effective way to reach and disciple unchurched persons, especially those uninterested ever attending a church.  With nearly 4 million unchurched folk in Indiana, Church Development has a dream of having at least 150 Fresh Expressions meeting throughout the state by 2025.  We hope your church will have launched one or more of these!  Let’s keep this effort in our prayers.  All for God’s glory!

—Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development