Posts Tagged ‘church planting’

by Chassity Neckers 

worship+shotThere is a uniquely sacred excitement that happens when a church begins to exist beyond its walls. Where the people inside make a commitment to be about the people outside first and the building second. There is nowhere that this is displayed more than at Huntertown UMC. Ten years ago, members of the congregation began to dream about meeting outside of the church walls in a location that better reached their community. The location that houses Huntertown UMC was landlocked which left little, logistically, for growth to happen. They began praying and searching, only to purchase land about a mile and a half away from the original church property.

The community that Huntertown UMC serves is ripe with harvest – a booming area with life, new homes, new schools; growth in every direction. A traffic study led them to discover that 3,000 cars drive past the location where they purchased land 10 years ago. Three-thousand lives that could be impacted if they chose to leave the safe zone of their 4 walls and venture into creating a second campus that God would use to reach their city.

Ten years later, after 8 jam-packed months of planning, their second campus came to life on March 5, 2017. The lay leadership that helped launch the campus would say that the Spirit’s presence in that place that morning was outstanding! Expecting things to go wrong, as we all do when trying something new, they witnessed a smoothly-run morning that was full of praise and worship as they stood as witnesses to the testament of God’s faithfulness.

“You could sense the energy the morning [of the launch] of the new service as soon as you approached the LifeHouse Campus. Cars streaming into the parking lot, greeters welcoming guests as they entered the building, 300 people worshiping together and praising God, 80 additional kids in a children’s ministry,” said Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development.

He continued, “Lots of energy, excitement, and a sense of God’s presence! I’m so glad Church Development could be a part of helping Huntertown UMC prepare for that day. Our prayers are with them.”

While not every new faith community goes off without a hitch, here are some of the things Huntertown UMC did as they prayed and prepared to launch a second campus:

  1. Began to create a cultural shift in perspective – They had to decide, would they be about the church building and church as they knew it on Sunday mornings or would they be about the people inside. A second campus meant two services in two locations, not always seeing the same people every Sunday as you did with one service.
  2. Determined their core values as a church – Through a sermon series, they began to outline the core values of why they exist and what they would be about as a church. They decided to be faithful to the people God has called them to reach, nothing more and nothing less and as a result, God has used them immensely and honored their faithfulness.
  3. Communicated openly with the congregation – They held multiple evening meetings to answer questions and concerns as they prepared to launch the LifeHouse campus. It became a church movement, not just the idea of a few pressed upon many.
  4. Relied on the leadership of the laity – Pastor Tony Johnson will admit, that coming into a new appointment, there was no way they could have launched this second campus without their lay leadership. Their laity owned their mission, core values, and lived outside their walls – inviting neighbors and others in their community to the launch and telling them about the campus almost daily, a challenging yet exciting task for those involved.

Starting a second campus can seem both awesome and overwhelming. Does starting a second campus mean we are to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” of our first? No. In fact, both of Huntertown UMC’s campuses are fulfilling their mission to reach their community right where they are. The second campus helped expand what God was already doing, not replace it. Allowing God to take their community of faith to the next step so they could best reach their community, they are now one church with two locations.

“We are about people,” said Tony Johnson, Pastor of Huntertown UMC. “[The second campus is] about the kingdom over the church. Growth of the kingdom is first, growth of the church is secondary.”

“Being missional in 21st century Indiana means reaching those who are like sheep without a shepherd in new and creative ways. This endeavor is one way to be missional to reach those who need to know our Savior, Jesus Christ,” commented Dave Neckers, Conference Superintendent serving the Northeast District.

The launch of Huntertown UMCs LifeHouse campus beckons each of us to answer the question – what are we about? Are we about a worship service, a building, our community? Will we choose to be about those living outside our walls over those existing within? Church development is for all of us, for healthy faith movements all throughout Indiana. Learn more about the ways Church Development can come alongside your congregation here.


– See more at: http://www.inumc.org/newsdetail/huntertown-umc-launches-lifehouse-campus-7804006#sthash.BJ6u2owL.dpuf

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 ed.fenstermacher@inumc.org.  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.

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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