Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

Close to 300 large churches in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church have participated in the Fruitful Congregation Journey (FCJ) revitalization process.  Are you aware of a new FCJ process designed especially for small churches?

FCJ-Impact, designed for churches averaging 70 or fewer in weekly worship attendance, guides a church on how to thrive in its “tomorrows” instead of hoping to just survive them.

Eight UM churches in the Kokomo area are just completing a pilot run of FCJ-Impact.  Participant Evan Strong, pastor of Bunker Hill UMC, writes of his experience:

“This journey has blessed me. To be honest, in the beginning I was dreading giving up my Saturdays, but once we got started, I knew it was going to be worth every second. I would take this Fruitful Congregation Journey again!

“FCJ-Impact has taught me new ways to spread God’s love to people who may otherwise have never experienced it. I’ve learned to change (modify) and add to what we do and would like to do within our church without disrupting the entire congregation. I will miss our meetings, but know our church will continue to apply everything we have learned.

“As a clergy member, I see FCJ-Impact empowering for the laity. It has given my laity confidence that they can be effective ministers too.”

Although done over an 18-month period, FCJ-Impact involves nine Saturday learning sessions where teams from participating churches come together with an FCJ facilitator-coach.  Each local church is required to bring a significant number of lay people to each session– 20% of its congregation’s average worship attendance.  With such a large number of leaders from the congregation participating, the church is much more likely to apply the concepts and use the tools back home.

FCJ-Impact is beginning to expand.  Rev. Randy Anderson, Associate DS for the Southwest District, says that over 60 participants from five of his district’s churches gathered earlier this month at St. Peter’s UMC in Posey County to begin their FCJ-Impact journey.  He is anticipating another group to begin in another part of the district.

img_0519The group began their journey focusing on the alignment of vision and mission.  Participants shared their ideas and experiences, and then prepared a ministry action plan to work on in their local settings over the next two months.

Rev. Jeff Newton of Kokomo reflecting on his experience participating in the pilot group of churches said:  “This experience has transformed the five churches I lead. We have new direction, vision, and most of all HOPE!”  Praise God!

For more information about FCJ-Impact visit Church Development’s website.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

God continues to move in the Indiana Conference in amazing ways.  One such way is the addition of a new Korean United Methodist Church in West Lafayette named Korean Disciple that is already averaging around 100 in worship and has baptized nine people, including six adults.  Praise God!

church-plantingIts founding pastor, Jong Hyun Jung (a.k.a. Tim) has this to say…

“Korean Disciples Church started as a non-denominational church on July 7, 2013. Two families along with me (pastor Tim) began to gather together to pray for a new Korean church that is dedicated to serving the Korean community in the Greater Lafayette area in the summer of 2013. At the top of our goals was to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the area. I was the first leader of the church, and we first met in the lounge at the Purdue Village Community Center. We had 20 people attend the first worship on July 7, 2013.

“And, then, God sent us an amazing wave of revival and it grew to almost 100 in a year. As the number of people who come to our worship increased, we were in a desperate need for a place that is large enough to hold all of us. At that moment, Craig LaSuer, a lead pastor of First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette, graciously let us use the building at a very low rate, which helped us keep the momentum. We now develop many ministries and actively serve Korean undergraduate students who study at Purdue University.

“Because of my plan to graduate from Purdue University (I am a Ph.D. student in sociology at Purdue University), Korean Disciples Church formed a pastoral search committee and looked for a new pastor to fill in my shoes. With almost over 90% of yes from all-congregation vote, Korean Disciples Church decided to welcome Pastor Kookjin Yun (an UMC elder pastor) as our next senior pastor and become affiliated with UMC. The whole congregation is very excited about this transition. Our prayer request is that God helps us go through this transition period smoothly and make a great stride in making disciples of Jesus Christ in the Greater Lafayette area.”

Northwest District Superintendent, Rev. Chris Newman-Jacobs, points out “There are approximately 5,000 Koreans in the West Lafayette/Lafayette area and as one of their [Korean Disciples Church] leaders remarked, ‘About 200 of them attend other Korean congregations.  That means there are 4,800 more that we need to connect with and invite into the saving grace of Jesus Christ.’  Their spirit of mission outreach and evangelism is inspiring and exciting.  I believe this is an outstanding opportunity for the Indiana Conference a new population of disciples in the Lafayette area.”

The Conference Church Development Committee recently approved a $50,000 grant to help the congregation as it continues to develop and reach more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Indiana Conference has two other Korean congregations, in Indianapolis and Bloomington, and we warmly welcome our newest sister congregation into our UM family!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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Gateway_Projector-kindergarten-1024x640Church Development celebrated, at the recent Indiana Annual Conference session of The United Methodist Church, the constituting (or chartering) of two new United Methodist churches in Indiana.  The Branches Community Church, which meets at an aquatic center in Plainfield, and Gateway Community Church, which is located on the northeast side of Indianapolis both are now official UMCs.

The Branches, founded by Rev. Alex Hershey, launched public worship December 2013.  It now averages 185 people.  Gateway was planted years ago as Sonrise at Geist UMC and later became a second campus of Castleton UMC.  Rev. Matt Lipan was appointed in June of 2015 and later the church was spun off as a stand-alone congregation.  It includes approximately 200 children and adults on any given Sunday.

These projects are part of a new wave of church planting in the Indiana Conference.  Church Development set a goal of launching 30 new faith communities by the year 2020.  Besides these two, there are 18 other active new faith communities.  Pfrimmer’s Chapel, a rural church outside Corydon pastored by Rev. Tim Johnson, has launched several new Mercy Street recovery-ministry based congregations as well as two new churches in Columbia, South America.  (They all represent just one of the 18 on our list.)  Fort Wayne Getsemani in Fort Wayne, led by Revs. Sergio & Janie Reyes, has just launched its third campus in Hicksville, OH, launching a bible study that’s now reaching 50 people each week!  Other projects are popping up as well.

Why is this so important?  Because many of our congregations, planted in the 1800’s when Indiana’s population primarily lived in the country, are nearing the end of their ministries.  We have other congregations that are in populated areas but are plateaued or declining in numbers, and starting new faith communities is one of the most effective ways of reaching the growing number of unchurched persons in Indiana, nearly 60% of the state’s population!

So we celebrate with these two new churches and look forward to many more to come.  Perhaps God is nudging you and your church to join the action too.  If so, don’t hesitate to contact us at Church Development.  We’d love to talk with you about it!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

IMG_0063There’s a lot of media coverage regarding the debate going on at General Conference over a number of issues, including human sexuality, but you likely haven’t heard the exciting news of our denomination’s church-planting efforts, not only in the U.S. but also overseas.

Our General Conference delegates learned (through our Advanced Daily Christian Advocate materials) that in the prior three years at least 2,300 leaders have been trained and equipped in the U.S. for church plant efforts, and that at least 325 churches have been established.

Furthermore, we have launched 574 new churches outside the U.S. from 2009-2012, exceeding our goal by nearly 200 churches!  Churches are being planted in continents all over the world, but here is a snapshot of our growing presence in Southeast Asia…  Though not an officially registered denomination in Laos or Vietnam, we now have 48 churches and 24 faith communities in Laos and 322 churches in Vietnam.  We have 154 churches in Cambodia and nine churches in Mongolia, as well as two faith communities.  Praise God!

The United Methodist Church is growing significantly worldwide.  Membership has increased dramatically in Africa and the Philippines.  May such growth begin to be experienced here in the United States as well.  Consider how your church is making disciples and multiplying the Kingdom.  Don’t get caught sitting on the sidelines, join the action of what God is doing all over the world!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development and Indiana Conference delegate to the General Conference

03EC0C2383AA49DFBD2F9B635F887655_120913-facebookIt isn’t every Sunday that a new church is officially welcomed into our Indiana Conference, so last Sunday at The Branches, in Plainfield, was very special.  The United Methodist church, which was started by Rev. Alex Hershey in 2013, celebrated it’s new status at a chartering service.  This milestone will also be celebrated at Annual Conference in June.

Some in the conference may have the impression that this is the only church plant going on.  This is far from the truth.  The conference actually has twenty or so new faith communities meeting right now that have been launched in the past few years.  It also has another group of them being launched in the coming months.  These projects include Korean, Native American, Burmese, and a number of Hispanic congregations besides Anglo and multi-ethnic congregations.  Some are stand alone congregation, but many are being sponsored by existing United Methodist churches.

In many ways, the Indiana Conference is experiencing the beginnings of a church planting movement.  Perhaps the greatest sign of this is that the conference’s Church Development team is not directly involved in a number of these projects.

Stay tuned for future announcements of some new amazing church plants that are in the works.  God is moving!  And, please consider joining the action by contacting your Church Development staff person.  We’re looking for more sponsoring churches, prospective church planters, planting opportunities, and people to pray.  Why not join in the fun and be apart of what God is doing!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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

coynerMike Coyner, bishop of the Indiana Area (Conference), recently shared in the Hoosier United Methodist Together newspaper (Jan./Feb. 2015) that his tenure will be ending as of the end of August 2016.  In The United Methodist Church, bishops have four-year assignments and Bishop Coyner’s will be ending at that time.  He will be retiring, so a different bishop will be assigned to lead the Indiana Conference beginning September 2016.

Please keep him in your prayers as he completes his ministry leading the Indiana United Methodist churches.  He certainly doesn’t plan to coast to retirement but has specific goals he’s focused on reaching.  (See the article.)  Also keep the Indiana Area Committee on Episcopacy, and a new transition team that’s been formed, in your prayers as they begin preparing for this transition in leadership.

Because at least three of the nine active bishops serving in the Midwest (North Central Jurisdiction) will be retiring and because of the common practice of having bishops serve two consecutive 4-year terms in the same Area, it is very possible Indiana will be receiving a newly-elected bishop, something that hasn’t happened before.  So please keep those “running” for bishop and those electing the new bishops in your prayers.  Those electing will be the delegates to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference, held in Peoria, IL, July 13-16.  This delegation will include 16 laity and 16 clergy from Indiana who will be chosen at this May’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis.

Finally, pray for the NCJ Committee on Episcopacy, which is the group that will recommend to the Jurisdictional delegates as to which Area each of the nine bishops will serve, including who will lead the Indiana Area (Conference).  Each Annual Conference has one clergy and one lay person serving on this committee.  For Indiana its Rev. Frank Beard and myself, Ed Fenstermacher.  Know that we covet your prayers.

We have been blessed these past 12 years with Bishop Coyner’s leadership.  May we be equally blessed by the leadership of our next episcopal leader.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development