School for Congregational Development

After a couple of wonderful week of vacation (seeing family members and hiking in Olympic National Park), I came back to CTC refreshed and ready to go! I am truly thankful to God and to you, the greater Central Texas Conference family, in being reappointed for another 4 years. I was in the office and back at work for about 5 days (including a wonderful Sunday worship experience at First UMC, Hurst) before it was time to go again! As I write this blog, I am in St. Louis teaching at the School for Congregational Development on Emerging Trends in New Church Development. (I fly home tomorrow.) It is exciting to see the creative wonderful outreach in both new and existing congregations as they reach out and offer Christ through the Holy Spirit in love, justice and mercy. It is "Praise God!" time to embrace our newest new faith community -- a French language worship at Richland Hills UMC!  As a part of my own presentation, I shared the core reasons for why we start new churches: 1. To faithfully respond to Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:16-20) 2. So that the next generation will be Christian! 3. New churches reach new groups of people—new immigrants, those turned off from conventional church, those seeking a different style and form of worship, etc. 4. Seekers and explorers are often more attracted to starting on the ground floor as pioneers. 5. Men are more likely to be attracted to a new church start. 6. Reach people with the gospel in a new location. 7. Spread a faithful Wesleyan theological perspective of the Christian faith that combines evangelism (converting people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ) and social holiness (the ministries of love, justice and mercy). 8. Existing churches are motivated to transformation/renewal efforts by the establishment of new churches in their community. 9. Denominations as a whole are “renewed as the percentage of new churches in their total numbers of churches increase.” (see Rekindling the Mainline by Steve Compton) A friend of mine recently reflected on the incredible performance of American Olympian Gabby Douglas in winning two gold medals, one for the gymnastics team competition and one for the individual all-around. She had put her faith on display when she said, "I give all the glory to God. It's kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me." Yet the explosion in the world of social media focused on her hair. Something like that often takes place in our society. Amid all the rancor and clamor, the church of Jesus Christ is doing some great things in faithfulness to the Lord. We are privileged with the blessing of sharing the Good News!