Posts Tagged ‘church development’

headshots+2-0052So many mis-conceptions surround the validity and value of the smaller membership churches.  Many feel that because they are small, there must be some problem or problems  that exists.  When this mentality becomes the plum line, finger pointing always seems to follow.

      “If only we had the right pastor”

      “If the big church down the street would quit attracting our members”

      “If only we had more money”

Well, you get the point!   The truth is the value and validity of any church regardless of it’s size is not based on any of the above.   Validity and value are based on the health of a congregation.

Just like our bodies, once in a while it is wise for congregations to get a check up.   I hear your next question clearly, “How in the world does a congregation get a check up”?   “How can we take the temperature of a congregation”?

Let me try to answer those questions briefly but clearly.  Congregational health is based on alignment.  Alignment of its vision with its over-arching mission.  We as United Methodists share a clearly stated and focused mission: THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH WILL MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.

This mission statement becomes the basis and focal point of our existence as a congregation, and our task is for all that we do to be aligned with our mission.

My mentor and interim Director of Church Development for the Indiana Conference, Doug Anderson states it this way, ” Communication plus collaboration brings alignment.”

Thus, because healthiness comes from alignment, communication and collaboration must become a part of our daily regimen.  When communication breaks down collaboration seldom happens.  The church looses sight of its vision because it isn’t being communicated clearly.  Collaboration between ministry areas and the congregation begins to suffer and eventually grinds to a standstill.  Ultimately the mission not only becomes out of reach but usually is forgotten or ignored.

Your Church Development team at the Indiana Conference wants to help.  We can come alongside a church with tools and procedures to help it move toward and ultimately achieve better health.

No matter what size congregation you call home, it is valuable and holds validity.  Please consider giving us the opportunity to serve with you as we together “MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.”

Because he lives…

— Randy L Anderson, Associate Director of Church Development


img_0368Every month a list of prayer concerns go out to folk who are involved in supporting Church Development‘s work in Indiana’s United Methodist Church.  If you’re interested in receiving these monthly notes and support Church Development’s work in prayer, please email  Below is March’s note.  — Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

Friends, Please pray for Bloomington St. Paul UMC today and tomorrow as it goes through its FCJ consultation.  Please pray for its pastor Dave Mullens, and the consult team of Steve Clouse, Jack Hartman, Tony Alstott (coach) and Kirk Freeman.

Pray for Monson Community’s Church for All People congregation.  Pray that God will help the Bishop and Cabinet to find the right person to lead it.  It’s a very unique ministry and needs someone who can develop partnerships and grow the funding.  Right now there is a faithful group that serves two free meals to the public every Saturday and Sunday!  Their commitment is truly amazing.  They have served 3,000 people, some of whom have joined their ranks and have had their lives transformed.

Pray for Huntertown UMC, led by Tony Johnson, as it launches a new congregation tomorrow (Sunday) at its Lifehouse campus, formerly called the Third Place.  Also pray for Hope UMC, led by Stacy Downing (near Fort Wayne), as it launches The Matt, a new outreach ministry located in a former laundromat in a mobile home park.

Thanks for your prayers for our recent CD Committee meeting.  Three grants were awarded—one to fund St. Joseph UMC’s new congregation that is being launched out of a YMCA, another to Christ UMC in Lafayette to help it establish a new congregation reaching the marginalized called Church for Everyone, and a third to Upland UMC as it relocates to a new site with expanded ministry.  So exciting to see God working!

Other prayer concerns…

March 9th — Church Development staff meeting

March 13th — Day of prayer and fasting for our Bishop and conference leadership as well as our Jurisdiction’s Episcopal leaders and denomination

March 17-19 — FCJ consultation for Bedford First whose pastor is Michelle White.  Consult team is Jack Hartman, Mark Eutsler, Dennis Ticen (coach), Dan Snyder

Please also pray for the following church planting projects:

East Chicago Torre Fuerte UMC (Strong Tower).  Leaders:  Esequiel & Suri Becerra.  North District.  Pray for the Becerra at the loss of his father Santos.

Elkhart New Hope UMC’s Casa de Mi Padre.  Leader:  Jorge Maldonado.  North District.

Elkhart Servant’s Heart Community.  Leader:  Nancy Bennett.  North District.

Fort Wayne Covenant UMC’s ministry with Parkview Family YMCA.  Covenant’s lead pastor:  Karen Koelsch.  Pray as the church recruits its team.

Fort Wayne Kristo’s Hands and Feet, a missional plant by St. Joseph UMC.  Leader:  Steve Mekaru.  Northeast District.  Prayers:  Please pray for me and our team as we transition from full time to part time in this ministry.

Fort Wayne St. Joseph UMC’s Lehman YMCA Campus.  Leader:  Jason Morris.

Greentown Miso Congregation.  Leader:  Lal Ralte.  Pray for this UM congregation of over 200 Burmese.

Huntertown UMC’s Lifehouse Campus.  Huntertown’s lead pastor:  Tony Johnson.  Pray as they launch a contemporary service in its new location.

Indianapolis Casa de Dios (second campus of Fort Wayne Getsemani UMC).  Leader:  Marissa Calleja.  Central District.  Prayers:  Please help us pray for the continual growth of our new faith believers in Christ.

Indianapolis Engage.  Leader:  Sharon Washington.  Central District.  Pray for the pre-launch/preview worship activities, and opportunities to strengthen staffing and facilities.

Indianapolis Old Bethel Hispanic Faith Community.  Pastor: Jen Stuelple-Gibbs.  Lead planter:  Sergio Reyes.  Central District.

Indianapolis The Garden.  Pastor:  Carolyn Scanlan.  Central District.

Indianapolis Vida Nueva.  Pastor:  David Penelva.  Central District.   Pray for our training program to raise up house church leaders.

Indianapolis Wesley’s Luz de Vida.  Pastors:  Carlos & Mirna Doliveira.

Lafayette Christ’s Church for Everyone.  Leader:  Stephanie Hanslow.  Northwest District.  Pray for it as it gets launched.

Ligonier UMC’s Nuevos Principios.  Leaders:  Jesus & Oliva Saucedo.  Northeast District.  Pray as the congregation’s leaders discern its future.

Marion Hanfield UMC’s BORN second campus in Marion.  Leader: Chuck Vernon.  North Central District.  Pray as it considers hiring a coach.

Muncie Main Street & The Garden at Gethsemane.  Leader Vickie Perkins.  East District.

Pfrimmer’s Chapel’s Mercy Street recovery congregations.  Pastor Tim Johnson and leader Bill Walsh.  South District.  Prayer:  Also pray for the church’s plants in South America—one at Berrugas, Colombia, led by Edgar & Julie Zuluaga, and another at El Poblado, Colombia, led by Claudio Acevedo Benitez.  Also pray for The Open House, a Saturday night worship service at the Kent Java Coffee Bar, led by Tyler Best, and The Joshua Center, a Ministry of Mentoring and Training Leaders in downtown Corydon, led by Jeannie Bedel.

South Bend Monson Community UMC’s storefront United Methodist Church for All People.  Leader:  To be announced.  North District.  Prayer:  Pray for the church and Larry Whitehead as they replace its former pastor.   Pray for the laity as they continue the church’s outreach ministries.

Washington Haitian Faith Community, meeting at Wesley UMC.  Pray as the conference/district helps them find a pastor who speaks Creole.  (We think we’ve found the right person!)

West Lafayette Korean Disciples Church.  Leader:  Rev. Kookjin Yun.  Northwest District.  Prayer:  Please pray for our college group to grow more in the upcoming spring semester.

Whitestown.  Leader:  Seth Neckers.  Pray for Seth as he explores the possibility of developing a new UM faith community in the fastest growing community in Indiana.

Winchester UMC a third campus of Compass Church.  Leader:  Jeremy Duncan.  East District.  Please pray for discernment as to the next steps with the Winchester Campus Education Building. Also, how to continue to engage with the Winchester community to build relationship and connection so that Jesus Christ can be shared with them.

Hirsch Event 1Question: What could entice a large group of Methodists to trade a Saturday during the busiest part of the Christmas shopping season for an all day workshop? Answer: The opportunity to recapture the “movemental” spirit of their congregations and Conference. Over two hundred and thirty people from across the Indiana Conference gathered at St. Lukes United Methodist Church on December 6, 2014, to hear noted missiologist Alan Hirsch speak about “Putting the Movement back into Methodism in Indiana.” This event was part of a plan by the Indiana Conference Church Development team’s desire to launch new initiatives to recapture the missional essence of the local church. The audience was an assembly of laity and clergy from dozens of congregations, each hoping to discover new paradigms that offer keys to spiritual vitality and faithful witness in the 21st century.

Alan Hirsch describes himself as a “future traveler.” Hirsch explains, “I have worked as missionary and denominational executive in Australia, experienced the collapse of Christendom first hand and I have a clear picture of what your future looks like.” According to Hirsch, the systems built to support Christendom have already imploded in Europe and most of the West. He states, “I believe we have approximately forty years before we hit the wall in America.”

Hirsch spent much of the afternoon mapping out processes that he believes can help the church recapture its true nature as an organism that is “movemental” a term he himself coined. At the center of these maps is a need to refocus on Jesus as the heart of the Christian faith. “’Jesus is Lord’ has been the slogan and rallying cry for all successful Christian movements in the past and we need to build around that as the essential truth of the Gospel.”

The speaker also spoke of five additional elements that are the essentials in a rebirth of Christianity as movement. Those elements are: a focus on discipleship, a missional-incarnational impulse, organic organization, communitas over community and recapturing the five-fold leadership gifts of the church found in Ephesians, chapter four, described as APEST. Hirsch chided the audience for devaluing the gifts of apostle, prophet and evangelist from Ephesians four, stating that “your systems tend to remove the APE from the equation, leaving shepherd/teachers to guide the church, but all five of these gifts are necessary for the church to reach maturity.

One of the strongest refrains of the day was the need for corporate repentance. Hirsch spoke very candidly about statistical evidence that shows that the Methodist movement reached its apex in the 1850’s and has been in decline ever since. “Decisions have been made in the past that have pulled the focus away from discipleship and disempowered the ministry of the laity,” Hirsch exclaimed. “You don’t have to continue to follow those decisions, you can repent. In fact, those in the future could very well look back to this day as a time when decisions were made that reshaped the destiny of things to come.”

This event will be followed by another of a similar nature on February 21st, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm (Eastern Time), at St. Joseph United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne.   Leaders from St. Joseph will share some concrete steps that reflect Hirsch’s ideas, including the following:

  • Using “prayer walking” as a way to discover the most fertile ground for evangelism and a way to build relationships
  • Using “positive loitering” events (spontaneous parties thrown within specific target neighborhoods) to connect with neighbors and build relationships
  • Partnering with other community organizations instead of competing with them (e.g. the public schools, Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club, food banks, etc.)
  • Developing small disciplining groups organically
You’ll hear how this United Methodist church–that mainly does attractional programs, ministries and worship–has been able to become more missional, doing relational evangelism.

The intention is that this event will be followed with another learning opportunity.  Church Development hopes, as a result, to develop a network of Indiana United Methodist churches that are focused on missional outreach to their communities that result in disciples that make disciples.  The hope is to help create a movement.  Plan to be a part of it and let’s change the world!

For more information, please contact the church development staff person assigned to your respective district.

— Steve Clouse, Senior Associate Director of Church Development

photoI’ve been attending a conference with United Methodist leaders from across the U.S. to discuss church revitalization and what strategies, resources, and insights can be most helpful to us conference leaders who are responsible for church redevelopment.  This gathering, called Route 122, named for the paragraph in The Book of Disciple that speaks about church vitality, has had some amazing speakers sharing some key insights.  We’ve talked about the eight keys that need to be a part of a conference strategy, trends and their implications, the U Theory, the Healthy Church Initiative (that we in Indiana call the Fruitful Congregation Journey).  All very helpful.

Each morning my personal devotional readings have been from the Book of Acts.  I’ve been reading about the early church and how it grew and spread.  I’ve been thinking about the United Methodist Church and how it is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa, the Philippines, and Asia.  And I’ve been wondering how the early church and the growing edges of the UMC happened without a Route 122 conference?  How did they do it, and how are they doing it, without knowing the eight strategic keys, the U Theory, money, staff (like me), and resources?   What do they have that the UMC in the U.S. seems to lack?

This summer I was fascinated with a proposal by economist and UM leader, Don House, who has concluded–through statistical analysis of lots of UM data–that if the UMC would enlist 1,000 of its churches averaging over 125 in weekly worship and raise $120 million annually, we could turn our denomination around.

All this has gotten me to wondering…is the answer, more education and strategies, more leaders working on revitalization (like me), more money in the hands of our larger churches?  What is it that we also need to consider that is revealed through the early church and the UM churches in the developing parts of the world.  My fear is that is we miss what they can teach us, all our efforts will still not get the job done.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development