Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

NEW-TO-FIVE-ebook-cover-6-HR-400x630The book, New to Five, by Ralph Moore and Jeff Christopherson, is all about moving our thinking as church leaders from addition to multiplication.  I grew up during the Church Growth movement.  I helped an inner-city church in Fort Wayne make 18,000 phone calls inviting people to our services.  We launched billboards, held “bring-a-friend” events and started new worship services.  And guess what, even though we were in the “wrong” part of our city, we were able to attract people and grow.

The authors of New to Five, however, question the biblical underpinnings of such an approach.  Even more they point out that addition isn’t cutting it, that a growing percentage of people aren’t interested in attending our churches, that U.S. worship attendance continues to decline, and after all, isn’t it about making disciples rather than building our kingdoms?

So what’s their alternative?  Multiplication!  The New Testament church is all about equipping and sending.  A healthier metric moves us from “seating capacity to sending capacity.”  Ralph writes:  “I think that the Great Commission will require us to start and multiply numerous smaller congregations that can reach into every nook and cranny of society…. Addition-focused churches have started to look alike, and ‘alike’ tends to be middle class–leaving lots of people outside the family.”

He goes on to say, “Many common church-planting methodologies seem to start with an eye toward multiplication until they gain momentum and multiplicative behaviors are shut down for the much sexier addition….If you don’t now it already, feeding a Level 3 [addition-focused] church takes a lot of money, talent, leadership and dedicated volunteers.  Start releasing and sending them out, and your church might implode.  At least that’s the prevailing fear…”

So the underlying question is, “Will you build a kingdom, or are you intent on building the Kingdom?”  Churches focused on building the Kingdom, referred to as Level 5 churches, look for effectiveness rather than excellence.  After all, look at who Jesus chose to lead His church?  Jeff writes:  “Instead of hand-selecting the obviously impressive, He chose the noticeably common.  Never has a less-impressive team received a more important assignment. ”

As Ralph says, “If you fully commit to pursuing Level 5 multiplication, the recognition that Level 3 pastors receive for leading large, growing and innovative churches won’t be  part of your story.  Simply put, fame and fortune are not coming your way, so get used to it.”  And just because a church may be small in size doesn’t limit it from focusing on multiplication rather than addition.

The reality is that growth shouldn’t be thrown out the window, but the writers point out that growth comes as disciples are released and sent out, churches give birth to new faith communities, that in turn give birth.  It’s exponential growth not growth through addition.  Adding new programs, improving worship services, and marketing creates a consumer-based church, where making disciples is more of an add on and doesn’t get much traction.  In a church based on a multiplication mindset, disciple making comes first, its at the core.  The church, its worship services, and programs grow out of the disciples being reached.

So in hindsight, I wish that the inner-city church I served years ago would have focused on sending its people out to build relationships with those in need of the Good News and a relationship with Christ, rather than on growing through attraction.  Had we done that maybe it would still exist…

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

P.S.  New to Five is available electronically at no cost.  I encourage you to read it!

18010760_1380122238677676_4717157016528137471_nHave you ever looked at a problem and upon looking at it from a different perspective, and being open to God, something beautiful results?  That’s what happened at a small United Methodist church in Scipio, Indiana, a tiny community between Columbus and North Vernon.  Pastor Dereck Fields’s wife, Angela, was looking out her kitchen window at the church’s garage.  A large tree had fallen on it and it was beyond repair.

At that moment she had a thought, what if rather than replacing the structure, the church built a larger structure designed for ministry.  What if rather than a structure used for storage, the church built one used for connecting and growing people in relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that is exactly what the church has decided to do.  This spring the church has been constructing a shelter house on its property near busy Highway 7.  And on June first, after much prayer and planning, the church is launching a new Thursday night worship service designed to reach those who aren’t connected with a church.  The hope is that using a shelter-house setting, rather than a traditional sanctuary, and using food, bands, and speakers on various practical life issues, the church will be able to provide people in its area with a Christ-centered community and connect them to Christ.

The church recently was awarded a $25,000 Church Development grant to help launch this project, the cost of which is estimated at over $85,000 for the next four years.  In its grant application, Rev. Dereck Fields wrote:  “In 1 Corinthians 9:19 the Apostle Paul reminds us, ‘Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people.’  In the spirit of these words, we have decided to put together a worship service designed to better meet the needs of our community.”

The Indiana Conference’s Church Development Committee jumped at the opportunity to partner with this congregation because it already had a track record of intentional outreach to its community.  Its annual Easter Egg Hunt attracts 150-200 each 17990579_1377429712280262_6606864339592548734_oyear, its annual Halloween Trick-or-Treating 200-300 people, its annual Vacation Bible School 75-120, its weekly Mommy & Me Class 15-30 people, its monthly Thursday meal for the community 150-200 people, and the list goes on!  The town of Scipio, incidentally only has 124 people!

These outreach efforts are viewed by the church as ways to begin developing relationships with people in need of God’s love and good news.  As a result, lives have been changed, and the church’s worship attendance has doubled in size to around 60.

So, what problem are you facing?  Could it be that God has a plan to take the brokenness resulting from the problem and do something incredibly beautiful through it?  God, through Scipio UMC, has demonstrated just that!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

 

IMG_9162“We want to be a real church,” the laity explained to Rev. Randy Anderson, Associate Superintendent of the Southwest District, when he met with them earlier this year. “We” are members of a new Haitian United Methodist faith community in Washington, Indiana, that’s averaging around 40 in worship.

As a result of their request, the Southwest District Superintendent, Rev. Steve Beutler, working with Bishop Julius Trimble and Church Development, has assigned David Draeger, a UM layman fluent in Creole, to lead the congregation. thumb_IMG_1237_1024
The congregation has adopted the name First Haitian United Methodist Church, and Rev. Rex Thomas and the members of Wesley UMC have invited them to share their building.

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On March 19, 2017, Bishop Trimble came to the church to welcome these new members of the Indiana Conference into the United Methodist Church family.
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Few in the congregation have access to transportation and so one layman was making four trips to the church each Sunday to transport members to worship.  In order to help, the Southwest District has presented this new unchartered congregation with a van.

IMG_9236Please pray for this fledgling congregation and may the joy of its members inspire all of us to praise God and reach out to others!

 

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

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

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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

Jesus spoke of the power of giving a person a cup of cold water, a seemly insignificant act of kindness.  With the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the gift of clean water is anything but insignificant.  Although the government and other agencies are providing water for residents, an I.D. is required in most cases.  This requirement, in particular, has meant that many residents without I.D.s haven’t been able to get help.

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Thanks to Christians who take Jesus’ words about giving the gift of water literally, truckloads of bottled water are being distributed by churches to anyone in Flint; no I.D. is required.  Recently  one of the Indiana Conference’s new church plants, Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower), led by Esequiel and Suri Becerra, joined forces with a nearby Chicago-area church and delivered a truckload of donated bottled water.

James says, “Faith without deeds is dead.”  Clearly the Torre Fuerte congregation and many others take this seriously.  What about your congregation?  How is it putting its faith in action?

— 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