Posts Tagged ‘church planting’

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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

IMG_0054Rev. Sergio Reyes, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Getsemani, was apologetic.  His Fort Wayne United Methodist Church has started a new faith community in another state–Ohio.  He was apologizing to the West Ohio Conference’s superintendent of the Northwest Plains District, the director of new church development, and the pastors of the two United Methodist churches in Hicksville, Ohio, explaining that he hadn’t meant to start a new congregation, it just sort of happened.

A couple from Sergio’s Fort Wayne church lives in Hicksville, Ohio, about a forty-minute drive.  They drive to Fort Wayne because Getsemani offers worship in Spanish, which they prefer.  They asked if Pastor Sergio would lead a bible study in their home this spring on a Saturday night after the workers at the local egg farms were done with work.  “Could we invite some friends and co-workers to the bible study?” they asked.  And the study grew quickly to 12 people, then 30 people, and now around 50 people, including some children!

Sergio explained to the West Ohio United Methodist leaders that the bible study group has run out of space in the house and can’t grow any more unless they find a bigger place in which to meet.  The group of leaders quickly acknowledged that God was truly moving and that one of the two Hicksville UMC buildings surely could be made available.

So pray as this ministry moves from a house to a church.  Pray that the host congregation will welcome the newcomers, nearly all of whom are brand new Christians, with Christ’s love.  Pray that God’s spirit will continue to touch not only the lives of the fledgling Hispanic congregation, but also the host congregation’s members and all the residents of the Hicksville area.

Sergio says that the people are hungry for the word of God, and already attenders to the bible study are asking him to start new bible studies in other parts of northwest Ohio.  Of course, his hands are already more than full with all the church planting going on in Indiana as well as co-pastoring his Fort Wayne church with his wife Rev. Janie Reyes.  But someday, who knows, God may raise up leaders from the Hicksville bible study who will help expand the movement throughout our sister state.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development

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

imagesI was talking with Rev. Tim Helm, pastor of Hanfield United Methodist Church, about his church’s second ministry site that’s located in an inner city setting.  How is it that his church, located in a rural setting, would have members investing in a low-income part of nearby Marion, Indiana?  He said, in part, it had to do with them having a change of heart, of them falling in love with a neighborhood that God seemed to be inviting them to be neighbors to.

So, how does a church help its members’ hearts to change?  Pastor Tim said it happened as members engaged with their new neighbors face-to-face on their turf.  He went on to give this example…  The church was going to hold a carnival in the inner-city neighborhood and so members were going door-to-door, offering free tickets for the children.  When asking one man how many tickets he needed, the members were struck by the fact that he had to think about it, the number varied from week to week.  Eight.  He needed eight tickets because he would have eight children–his own kids plus nieces and nephews–in the house the week of the carnival.  The members began to realize just how hard it must be not only having eight children in one house, but to know that the kids come and go depending upon life circumstances.  And their commitment to and love for reaching this neighborhood grew exponentially!

How is God changing your heart?  Who are the neighbors you have a growing concern for sharing God’s love with?  Is your church being called to leave its comfortable neighborhood to enter a new one for the sake of the Gospel?  What’s your next step?

— 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

header_03I’m presently on my second visit to United Methodist churches in the Philippines.  When I first visited the country just over ten years ago, I got to know one of the oldest UMCs in the country, Knox United Methodist Church located in downtown Manila.

Knox is like a lot of our churches in the states.  It once was a church that the professional class called home.  But times have changed and with them the church has changed and adapted.  How did it do this?  Because it is totally focused on its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!  This means that whenever decisions have to be made, the church places the mission above personal preference.  An example of this is how Knox has intentionally decided to forgo air-conditioning in its sanctuary and instead use that money toward planting churches.

As a result, it has planted over a dozen new United Methodist churches–some located in the Middle East, for example Dubai and Kuwait.  This done by a church that intentionally is serving the poor around its main location.  It is a church that continues to give itself away, and God continues to provide it with all it needs–leaders, funds, and vision.

And last night I was privileged to see just a little of its fruit–a children’s dance troop, made up of local children, many of whom from poor families.  Bright smiles, full of the joy of the Lord!  No problem forgoing air conditioning when you’re looking face-to-face at children who reflect the face of Christ.  Christ gave up everything for us.  What are we and our churches willing to give up for Him?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development