Recently, we began our Fall Cabinet Retreat with a time of celebration of WIG accomplishments. Remember that the WIG (Wildly Important Goal) is our mission statement – “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Stories of individual, local church and conference-wide transformation form the critical foundation from which the WIG emerges. They provide biographies of grace! God in Christ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is moving in our midst! You can find several examples on our conference website (ctcumc.org/wigstories) and our CTC Facebook page.
The following is a mere sampling of reports from the mission field which were shared at our Cabinet Retreat:
- At FUMC Olney, members have seen a 30 percent increase in average worship attendance in 2019 over 2018 and have celebrated 11 professions of faith through August. Two teen-aged boys were baptized and professed their faith during the church’s summer youth mission trip. They are now encouraging their parents to become part of the life of the church.
- St. Barnabas had 19 persons from 11 different families join one Sunday this August. Several came from an initial interest in their recently begun New Faith community - On Tap.
- FUMC Belton began a New Faith Community on August 25th – Brunch Church. The service is on Sunday mornings and is aimed at reaching college students and young adults in the Belton community, especially those associated with Mary Hardin Baylor University. The Conference has partnered with FUMC Belton in the appointment of an associate pastor who will develop the New Faith Community through the church, while at the same time establishing an expanded college ministry. The church has fed over 250 college students each week during the fall and spring and is now taking a step to share Christ in a new way with the students.
- St. Stephen UMC, Arlington had a man who became involved in the church through their Saturday morning Bible and Basketball ministry begin attending worship and later professed his faith and was baptized.
- Keller UMC has had six consecutive weeks of baptisms with several more weeks confirmed with professions of faith and baptisms scheduled.
- At FUMC Hamilton, average worship attendance has grown by 45 percent since July 1. Members are studying “Treasures of the Transformed Life” by John Ed Mathison, celebrating healed relationships among themselves, and still talking about this summer’s successful Vacation Bible School (the first at the church in years).
- St. Paul UMC Temple recently hosted a back-to-school luncheon for school employees at a nearby elementary school. The church collected school supplies and gave the school $200 at the conclusion of the lunch. St. Paul is also meeting with the principal of the school to establish ways the church can be in ministry with the students and employees throughout the year.
- First UMC Cleburne is crystalizing our mission and our discipleship pathway by taking discipleship digital through the “Gather Grow Go podcast” - currently their largest community of faith formation (larger than any of their bible studies or Sunday School classes).
- Genesis UMC has reported an 11 Professions of Faith gain over this time last year.
- BBQ, Music, and Word is a New Faith Community in Coolidge, Texas. The community of Coolidge, which boasts a population of 959 and a congregation that worships in the low 30s each Sunday, hosts the weekly worship service at Mukey’s Barbecue. The “joint” holds 45 people, and many Tuesday nights they are at capacity or a little beyond. This ministry is reaching across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.
- Central UMC in Waco continues to make disciples via The Jesus Table - a new faith community morphed from a Dinner Church in downtown Waco to an incredible outreach ministry, and a community faith that is changing lives. The Jesus Table is primarily a homeless ministry making sure every child of God knows they are welcome to Christ’s table. It is about letting the homeless know that they are worthy and that God longs to be in relation with each one of them.
During the Cabinet Retreat, Mike Ramsdell, executive director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Mission and Church Growth, reported “The Central Texas Conference has jumped onboard with the 100 New Faith Community Initiative in an amazing way, with 44 (now 46!) new faith communities (NFC) having received a grant and two in process, 12 NFC’s we are tracking who began one without a grant, and many churches in the visioning season to begin theirs or add another. Few things in our denomination today are making as big a difference when it comes to changing the course of decline in our church. This initiative is doing just that – making us one of two conferences in the country who have grown monthly during the last 18 months. This is just the beginning as we continue to learn from this initiative.”
The Holy Spirit is moving in our midst. Across the Central Texas Conference stories of transformation involving both individuals and churches are being reported. Almost half of the churches in the Central Texas Conference are reporting growth in average worship attendance! Well done thou good and faithful servants!
4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.