The Wildly Important Goal Heading into Annual Conference ©

As we head into Annual Conference (starting Sunday night, June 10th), I offer some wonderful stories of what God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.  These are the narratives of churches engaging in the WIG (Wildly Important Goal) of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The following report came in from First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth: FUMC Fort Worth is laser-focused on our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and it’s important to hold ourselves accountable to that mission. So how are we doing in 2018 so far?
  • 139 new members have joined FUMCFW in 2018, a 63% increase over the same time frame last year.
  • Total worship attendance is up 18% over last year.
  • Spring Academy attendance (Children’s Ministry) is up 12%.
  • 552 kids have registered for Vacation Bible School this summer, and there are still six weeks of registration to go.
  • 118 youth have registered to participate in a summer service trip, up 47% over last year. This includes 40 who will spend a week serving at Camp Barnabas assisting special-needs campers.
  • Combined Gathering attendance is now 306 people per Sunday, a 62% increase over the same time frame last year.
We care about these numbers because each number is a person. Each number represents an individual growing closer to God in worship, in discipleship, and in commitment to Christ. Our church continues to make great strides in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and none of this is possible without your generosity and support of the work that God has given this church to do. A WIG narrative came in from Rev. Margret Fields, Associate Pastor at Lighthouse Fellowship UMC.  They report on a great new community of faith that is sharing Christ at a bingo center.  In partnership with Jody Williamson who is on staff at Lighthouse Fellowship, they have discovered the Holy Spirit moving ahead of them! Rev. Fields shares, “The problem Jody and I are having is trying to stay out of the way! The Holy Spirit has been moving in that place and with Cathy Anderson, owner of Town and Country. The bingo hall is a community in itself that has become a faith community long before Lighthouse, Jody or I came on to the scene.  Romelia Hernandez and her husband Jose are longtime bingo players. They come to the bingo hall for community with others. Romelia began praying for a revival. Not just any revival. She prayed for revival in the bingo hall. It was not long after she prayed that Revive Texas, a 50-day evangelistic effort in spring 2017, brought leaders, Steve and Brenda Bachman, to Town and Country. The flames of the Holy Spirit were fanned, and a prayer group was born. This prayer group that averages 12 people, meets each week at the bingo hall on Saturdays followed by a community meal. People gather together to study God’s word, to pray for and with each other, to eat together, and their numbers have grown. A year later, the group is ready to multiply and to worship. Romelia is going to lead a Spanish-speaking group at the same time the original group meets.” On a related subject, I read an interesting article by Doug Powe and Ann Michel (respectively Director and Associate Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership) noting nine trends impacting Church Leadership today.
  1. Changes in church attendance patterns
  2. Changing life styles
  3. The impact of income inequality
  4. Demographic shifts and increasing cultural diversity
  5. Changes in how people connect with congregations
  6. The imperative of reaching beyond church walls
  7. Changes in how faith formation happens
  8. Creative approaches to church financing
  9. Changes in religious workforce
It is worth taking the time to read the entire article, which can be accessed here. I look forward to being together at the 108th year meeting of the Central Texas Annual Conference in Waco, Texas.  Bishop Mike McKee, the only person elected bishop out of the Central Texas Conference, will be our conference preacher.  It should be a great time in the Lord!