Transformation and the WIG: An Update Report ©

Last September Mart United Methodist Church launched a new faith community built around what they call J.A.M. (Jesus and Me). The new faith community is focused on serving pre-K through 6th grade children in the Mart ISD. Pastor Amy Anderson shares the following story:
One of the first children to sign up was a 2nd grader named Peyten. She came from a single parent household where the mother was a well-known drug addict. One month after we started, Peyten was taken by CPS and placed in the care of an older brother in Waxahachie. The mother, Tammy, as well as CPS gave us permission to remain in contact with the child. We have been able to send her cards, letters, and children's devotional items appropriate for her age. We also supplied her with Christmas gifts through our children's change-for-change mission offering. She is doing extremely well. Her mother, Tammy, got "scared straight" so to speak. Losing her daughter is what it took to make her face reality. She voluntarily went into outpatient rehab and began coming to church. She has also joined us for dinner on Wednesday evenings and stays for bible study. This has been ongoing since the middle of October. She has tested clean and negative for drugs 6 weeks in a row. Last Sunday, Tammy came to me after church in tears and said, "I want to let everyone know that I want to follow Jesus from now on. This town talked about me and judged me but this church loved and embraced me and showed me a better way to live. I want to be a part of this." I am so excited to say that she has chosen to profess her faith in worship this coming Sunday, join the church, and has asked to be baptized. We are bringing in a horse trough and celebrating in a big way. It is because of the New Faith Community of J.A.M. that we were able to reach her, through her daughter. She has a long road ahead of her in so many ways but, spiritually, we have a plan in action to help disciple her and a strong group of folks to walk with her on her faith journey. God is good...all the time!
I am awed by the grace of God exhibited through a church responding to the wildly important goal (WIG) of “making disciples of Jesus Christ.”  This is truly a story of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit at work in the lives and ministry of a local congregation. It is a narrative of the grace of Christ reflected in a redeemed life. Narrative (story) and metrics go together. They are a report of God in action moving in, through, and with us. There are crucial lead measures that reflect a commitment in the transformational ministry of making disciples of Christ. Three crucial lead measures for the Conference & Districts are: 1. The number of churches with measurable goals 2.  The number of churches growing in average worship attendance 3. The number of new faith communities For local congregations, there are also vitally important lead measures which go with stories of transformational disciples. Local church lead measures are: 1. The number of people engaged in faith sharing mission 2. The number of first time visitors 3. Setting measurable goals for average worship attendance and professions of faith growth 4. The number of new faith communities 5. The number of small groups A couple of additional narrative stories tie to the key metric of the number of new faith communities. Rev. Meg Witmer-Faile, Associate Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism and Church Growth shared the following:
“Just wanted to share with you that I attended the launch of Saginaw UMC’s ‘Simply Worship’ 9:45 AM new faith community yesterday. As you likely recall from their grant application, this new worship service was one of the congregation’s Holy Focus goals, so it is encouraging to see it coming to fruition. Also, they were very grateful to receive the $10,000 grant and expressed that before the end of the worship service, recognized me as representing the CECG/Conference Leadership. It was a good worship experience, seemingly well-received, and well-attended (@75-80, I believe). Jason, Estee, Greg (the new part-time worship leader for this service), and their Holy Focus worship planning team had obviously prepared well for the launch of this new service. … One additional note, the woman I sat with during worship yesterday, shared with me that she had visited the Saginaw church three times, had had coffee with Jason to learn more about the church, and had come to church that morning specifically for the Simply Worship service. It was obvious to me that she was comfortable and engaged in worship. What a gift and a blessing—grateful!”
Again the narrative ties to changing metric and God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is active in our faithfulness. One additional narrative I offer comes from Trinity United Methodist Church in Arlington. Dr. Dean Posey, Lead Pastor at Trinity, writes to Rev. Ben Disney, East District Superintendent and Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism and Church Growth:
“I wanted to share with both of you some very good news about Trinity. Our average Sunday School attendance for 2017 was 505, and the average worship attendance for 2017 was 645. Our WIG is to increase our Sunday School attendance to 750 by December 2020. We made a decision last fall to add two new worship services beginning January 7, 2018. One worship service is for adults at 9:45am, and the other new service is for children at 11:00am. In addition we added four new Sunday School classes on January 7, 2018 as the first step towards our WIG. I am excited to tell you that last Sunday, January 7 we had 574 in Sunday School and 730 in worship! That is 69 more people in Sunday School and 85 more in worship. We are very excited as we begin this year and look forward to a great 2018 here at Trinity. Thank you both for your encouragement and support.”