Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

cropped-cropped-Branches_Logo_Darker

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_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

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

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 4.31.57 PM“Take my grandchildren to Sunday school.”  These were the final words I was to hear from my neighbor who died of brain cancer in 2014.  How could I do that?  They lived in Japan at the time.  Their parents, as far as I knew, weren’t into church either.  This didn’t let me off the hook because a year ago the family moved from Japan into my neighbor’s home, and now her grandchildren are right across our driveway.  I see them nearly every day.  And I’ve discovered that Sunday school can happen more than just on Sundays and more than just at my church.  Right now it’s highly unlikely they would go to my church, but guess what, God brought the church to them through me and my wife.

Even though I’m committed to our United Methodist Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, I don’t always do a good job.  I many times get so involved inside my church, doing church stuff with church folk, that disciple making outside rarely happens in an intentional way.  I don’t know about you, but I need help.

That’s why I’m excited about the launch of regional Missional Peer Learning Groups.  These are designed to help persons like me, and church leaders and teams, with ideas, encouragement, accountability and prayer as we make all make disciples where God places us.  I encourage you to consider trying out one of these groups.  Just contact the person below and they’ll help you get connected.  Or feel free to contact me.

  • Dyer (near Chicago) – Jim Clark  (james.clark@inumc.org)
  • Fort Wayne – Steve Mekaru  (kristoshandsandfeet@gmail.com)
  • Centerville (near Richmond) – Jason  Morris (jason.morris@inumc.org)
  • Brazil – Rick Koch (rick.koch@inumc.org)
  • Indianapolis – Mike Mather (mike.mather@inumc.org)
  • Pfrimmer’s Chapel (near Corydon) – Tim Johnson  (tim.johnson@inumc.org)

Together we’re stronger!  God is doing a new thing.  Let’s not miss out!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

Kristo's-131020aSt. Joseph United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been spearheading a non-attractional church plant on the Fort Wayne’s south side the past few years called Kristo’s Hands and Feet.  Steve Mekura, the effort’s leader, recently reviewed an updated discipling plan with leaders from St. Joseph.  What the leaders discovered was that Kristo’s wasn’t a project that simply flowed from the mature Christians of St. Joseph to the non-believers and new believers in the south part of town.  God turned it around and now the Kristo’s project is actually challenging and shaping how St. Joseph members view disciple making where they live too.  Typically God, huh?

Here are comments from one St. Joseph member…

“The conversation completely changed for me when Steve started describing his formalized discipleship plan.  My heart was not open to the idea.  I thought our mission field is filled with people that often aren’t home, miss events, etc… there is no way we’re going to be able to convince them to stick to such a plan. I was skeptical that the idea of laying it out in such an intentional way, to people who have only begun to walk with or understand Christ, was way too much to ask.

“Then I started thinking about myself, “How would I react if someone from our church leadership asked the same of me?” What if there was something to hold me accountable for areas my personal spiritual growth is struggling and how I could be discipling others – which would both elevate my growth and impact others.  The thought was still terrifying and seemed like a huge undertaking – but the possibility of the growth it could bring began to be exciting.

“Then the conversation turned to responsibility … if I’m spiritually responsible for discipling those around me through the church activities I participate in, how does that change the way I act? What if everyone had that change in mentality, so that we are all discipling each other?  Putting aside the community for a moment, how would that change the culture of Saint Joseph?  What would it look like if instead of saying, “I get to hang out at camp with 27 senior high youth,” the conversation changed to the challenge of discipling them?  What if when we returned from camp, someone held me accountable for each person and asked what conversations I had with them … how I helped them grow for Jesus.  It would change the dynamic completely.  It could change the dynamic of Saint Joseph completely.  If it spread across Fort Wayne, it would change Fort Wayne completely.

“I commented that following Christ was never supposed to be easy, but we tend to make it very easy.  Maybe it’s time to make it more of a challenge.  Steve’s comment about ministry doesn’t end when he crosses Coliseum stuck with me too.  We need to be engaged in ministry at all times.

“The way God is leading us is consistent with what I felt at camp this year as well.  God loved us first, which the speaker turned into a verb: firstlove.  My takeaway from that week was, “Firstlove. Love first.” If we combine a genuine love for everyone with an intentional missionality focused on making true disciples, the possibilities are pretty exciting.

“Now, we do have to be careful not to make ministry a corporate chore. It still needs to flow out of a joy and not a duty … but if God is giving us joy by serving him, it may be important to formally recognize that comes with duty and responsibility as well. – Ryan”

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

New wineskins needed!

Posted: February 6, 2015 by efenster in Ideas
Tags: , , , , ,

Vital SignsThe sign of a healthy, vital church is reflected in its ability to adapt to its changing context.  I recently was with a church that had older members bemoaning the fact that their church has been slowly  declining the past thirty years because their children no longer stay in the community after graduation.  Of course, churches throughout the U.S. have been experiencing this for at least the past forty years!  Most  have recognized that they can’t rely on simply maintaining their churches through biological growth but that they have to focus on inviting and welcoming those new to their communities, those who are unchurched, those who are looking for a church.

Well, things have changed again and churches can no longer simply be a welcoming church.  They must be a “going” church.  Effective churches realize that they must adapt once again and take the church to the streets.  Rather than worship being the primary doorway into the life of the church, members developing relationships with the unchurched through everyday life experiences will be a key entry point.  Discipling will more likely happen in our homes, neighborhoods, and favorite haunts before it happens in our churches, especially for those who presently have no interest in our churches.  How are our churches equipping its members to do this?

I’m writing this for myself as much as you.  I’m co-chair of my church’s Mission & Outreach Team and we’re wrestling with how we can help our church do this.  And I’m wrestling with how I personally am doing this as a Christian in the 21st Century.  Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

Jesus talks about how we need to put new wine into new wineskins.  Although the Gospel message is unchanging, the way we convey it to the next generation must change.    Thankfully, if we’re open, God will show us those new wineskins.  May we be open to them even if they’re radically different from what we’re used to.  And may we be willing to adapt and change as needed!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

copy-logo“Living Into It and Through It – Missional Church”

What:       Learn from a church that is living out the missional-church concepts introduced at the “Putting the Movement Back into Indiana Methodism” event featuring Alan Hirsch.  Those churches especially interested in reaching the growing slice of our population that isn’t interested in the institutional church are especially encouraged to participate.  Become a part of a network of missional churches!

When:  February 21, 10am-3pm (Eastern Time)

Where:  Saint Joseph United Methodist Church, 6004 Reed Rd., Fort Wayne, IN 46835-2215

Registration Deadline:  Walk-in’s are welcome.  For lunch, you must register by Feb. 16th.

To Register click here.  

Cost:  $10 for lunch.  None refundable.

Invitation from Rev. Russ Abel…  Join us at Saint Joseph UMC, Fort Wayne, February 21st, 10:00am-3:00pm (Eastern Time),  as we share how we have worked to become a missional church.  Over the past five years we have intentionally worked to develop and claim a missional identity among ourselves; and a missional presence beyond ourselves.  Our team is excited to share what God has been up to.  Here are a few of the things we will share:

  • Visioning: How we began at the Church council level to develop a different understanding of church.
  • Hits and Misses: We will hare some of the things that have worked for us and some of the things that did not.
  • Kristos Hands and Feet: Pastor Steve Mekaru and his team will share about our “New Faith Community” which is fully relational and making new disciples.
  • We will also share how we still believe God is calling us to push forward, challenge boundaries and take risks for the sake of the Gospel.

We are encouraging everyone to come in teams, if possible.  We look forward to seeing you and sharing a little about what God is doing here at Saint Joseph.

For more information contact:  Ed Fenstermacher at ed.fenstermacher@inumc.org or contact Saint Joseph UMC at (260) 485-9681.

Co-sponsored with Saint Joseph UMC by the Indiana Conference Church Development Team.