Posts Tagged ‘partnerships’

ymca-logoA YMCA under construction in Fort Wayne has jasoninvited St. Joseph United Methodist Church to launch a worshiping community in its new facility, which opens later this year.  The church, under the leadership of Rev. Russ Abel, has tapped its associate pastor, Jason Morris, to lead the project.  The Cabinet appointed Pastor Morris to the church last summer with the specific purpose of planting the new congregation.

There are other communities, such as Dayton, Ohio, in which similar relationships have developed between YMCAs and United Methodist churches, but we believe this is the first in Indiana.

The idea began years ago, when St. Joseph UMC voted to purchase 29 acres of land just a quarter of a mile east of the church’s landlocked property.  Rather than relocate the entire church to this larger site, which they named Praise Park, the church caught a vision of becoming a church with multiple locations, including Praise Park.

A few years ago, the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne decided to purchase land for a new location and the land chosen just happened to be adjacent to Praise Park.  After ongoing conversations, the Y and St. Joseph agreed to enter into a partnership.  The Y invited the church to launch a new weekly worship service in its new facility.  The church, on the other hand, invited the Y to use its acres of recreational fields at Praise Park.  And now Pastor Morris and St. Joseph have the opportunity to serve not only the estimated 8,000-10,000 new Y members who will be frequenting the Y’s new location, but also to serve the yet-to-be-reached population living nearby who would never be attracted to St. Joseph’s original facility.

God clearly had something beautiful in mind years ago for that part of Fort Wayne.  What future does God have in mind for your church and community?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development
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Unknown-1Did you know that the word church appears only three times in the Gospels, yet the Kingdom of Heaven appears thirty-one times?  How is it then that we spend so much energy as Christians in the U.S. focusing on the church rather than the Kingdom?  That’s at the heart of a fascinating and challenging book I’m just finishing by Reggie McNeal.  It’s entitled, Kingdom Come:  Why We Must Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church–and What We Should Do Instead.  

McNeal rightly says that “the purpose of the church is to further God’s Kingdom.”  We United Methodist’s are about making disciples for the transformation of the world.  That’s our marching order. It’s not filling pews, growing budgets, and maintaining buildings.  So how is it we’ve gotten so mis-focused?  After reading the book, I’m thinking my title probably should be Associate Director of Kingdom Development, rather than Church Development!

One of the projects I’m working on right now, on behalf of Church Development and with Connectional Ministry staff, is developing a network of churches whose hearts are on building the Kingdom, on each member incarnating the church 24/7 wherever God places them, on partnering with other community groups (even secular ones) in order to help bring God’s Kingdom into fullness, thus transforming our communities and world.  You’ll be hearing more about this effort.  But in the meantime, I encourage you to read McNeal’s book and be challenged too!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church (Kingdom) Development