Monday morning, Oct. 22, Dr. Leah Hidde-Gregory, District Superintendent of the Central District of the Central Texas Conference, forwarded an email to me (with permission to us) that she had received from one of the Central District pastors leading a New Faith Community. It reads as follows:
[I] Woke up to this sweet testimony from Susan Hale, a Triple B (Beer, Bourbon, and the Bible faith community, which meets in a party barn) member who recently accepted Christ – God is Moving!!!
“Sophie and I got on our knees last night and prayed. We prayed for our friends who love us and those that don’t. We prayed for our pets that are also our friends although a kitten attacked during said prayer. We prayed for our country and those who lead us. And finally, we prayed for those who guide us – specifically you and Aimee. I woke up this morning and finally believed that we are going to be more than ok – we have got GOD! And I’m crying as I type this, but you gave the most amazing gift by showing me that he loves us all. Thank you my friend! So, put that in your coffee and go forth with His word.”
I believe there is a work of God emerging in the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church through our New Faith Communities. Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 22) Rev. Mike Ramsdell, executive director, Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, handed me the 27th New Faith Community (NFC) application for my approval and signature.
In my last blog post
, I shared narratives, (i.e. stories of faith transformation) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ happing all across the Central Texas Conference. The metrics highlighted in the graphics below confirm a movement of the Holy Spirit. New Faith Communities demonstrate dramatic growth in professions of faith and average worship attendance. Local churches involved in starting new faith communities are showing a gain in average worship attendance of 4.1 percent (which is 3.8 percent more than the overall growth across the CTC). Almost every District in the conference is closing in on its professions of faith goal ahead of projections. The following two PowerPoint slides presented at the recent Conference Core Team meeting make the point as well. The first, Average Worship Attendance, is based on a rolling 12-month average (i.e. Oct. 2017 thru Sept. 2018). The Professions of Faith numbers are year-to-date totals. (click on the image to enlarge
Mike Ramsdell notes:
- Amplified Worship, Corsicana, at the UCF with Navarro college - meets on the campus and usually have 50 to 70 in attendance. Partnership with first Corsicana, Meredith Bell with Zach Stiefel as lead Pastor/preacher.
- First Burleson, Family style - children’s time, message, coffee and dinner on Saturday nights; typically runs 50 to 70.
Jonesboro UMC (the smallest church on the list) Imperfectly Perfect - meets at midweek, the church has a handful on Sunday morning and at this service often has more than 20, people of all ages and a very unchurched.
- Trinity Arlington, The Clubhouse - family and children’s worship, commonly running 80 in worship and helping transform Trinity on Sunday mornings.
- If we take into account the New Faith Communities begun in the last three years, including those who received grants and those who chose not to apply or began the NFC before the grants were offered, we are confident that the average combined worship of those new NFCs, 26 given grants, is more than 2,000 people - people we were not already reaching and changing the culture of the churches and conference.
His last line deserves special emphasis. We are “reaching people we are not already reaching and changing the culture of the church
.” Such a cultural change leads to greater emphasis in ministry to the hungry, hurting and homeless - whether spiritual or physical. Meaning and purpose is shared in the name of the risen Lord. Disciples are being made as the Great Commission of the risen Christ in Matthew 28:18-20 is lived out!
I invite you to watch the following short video originally posted on the conference Facebook page
last Thursday (Oct. 18), in which Conference Lay Leader
Mike Ford, Rev. Mike Ramsdell and I share some exciting news about the progress of our WIG – especially in the area of average worship attendance growth (yes, I wrote growth…VitalSigns data shows a three-month growth trend!). I also invite you to visit our conference Vimeo page
and download the video to share in a worship service, small group and/or your website/social media properties.
Currently the following local churches have received a New Faith Community Grant. (Other New Faith Communities have sprung up without using grant money from the Conference.) It is awesome to watch God in Christ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at work!!
New Faith Community Grants
||Name of Proposed NFC
|UCF Wesley at Navarro College
||Jason & Estee Valendy
||Sunday morning worship on campus
||J.A.M. Jesus and Me
||9:00 at Bethesda
|Trinity Arlington UMC
||Dean Posey/Emma Bruce
|Central UMC Waco
||Bob Rainey/ Taylor Crawford
||The Jesus Table
|St. Barnabas UMC
|Arlington Heights UMC
||Soup, Salad & Celebrate
||Frank Briggs/ Margaret Fields/Jody Willimason
||Project 44/Bingo Hall
|St. Philip's UMC
||St. Philip's Saturday Night Worship
|Community of Hope
||Beverly Connelly/Brady Watson
||Hope Online Community
||R&R Reflect and Reconnect
||Steve Langford/Mary Lobban
||Beer and Bible
||Living Life (The Back Door)
||The Gathering a.k.a. "Brunch Church"
||Iglesia Jeme Second Service
||People Matters to Jesus Campus