Director of new church development has extensive church-planting experience

December 17, 2015

Ben Ingebretson of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been selected as director of new church development for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church—a role he will begin on Jan. 1, 2016. Ingebretson was chosen by leaders from both conferences after an extensive nationwide search.

He is currently a leadership consultant working with organizations, churches, and denominations that include the United Methodist Church and the Reformed Church in America (RCA), for which he now serves as a field leader for church multiplication in Florida and co-led the planting of more than 275 churches in 10 years. He is also considered a revitalization specialist within the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church, having led the development of more than 45 church plants in that conference.

“I look forward to walking alongside church planters, encouraging them, developing partnerships with the congregations, and developing teams,” said Ingebretson. “Partnerships and teams that work together are keys to success. There are many opportunities to serve new people in new places throughout the Dakotas-Minnesota Area by starting new worship services, embracing new cultures that are arriving, and being ready to grow in places where God is moving.”

Ingebretson has authored several best practice books, including Multiplication Moves: A Field Guide for Churches Parenting Churches. For the RCA, he developed a team that assessed more than 100 church planters using state-of-the-art systems, and he trained church planters in stewardship and fund development, ultimately empowering more than 100 planters to raise start-up funds.

He also provided an organizational sustainability consultation with more than 500 ministry leaders in Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico, and Eastern Europe. He is a certified cultural intelligence assessor and a trainer with the Cultural Intelligence Center.

“Ben will bring a fresh voice and best practices to the leadership teams of the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences,” said Resident Bishop Bruce R. Ough. “Ben is a generative leader and will assist the area to develop a new church-plant culture and a sustainable system for developing new congregations. His presence will keep us future-oriented, creative, and adaptable to a changing mission field.”

In Minnesota, there are 10 new faith communities. That includes four churches that have been started or expanded to new locations within the past two years through the conference’s Reach • Renew • Rejoice congregational development initiative; 10 more new or expanded will join them in the next five years. The Dakotas Conference, meanwhile, has six new church starts and plans to start seven more faith communities within the next 10 years. It is currently home to one of the 10 fastest-growing churches in the nation: Embrace in Sioux Falls, which started five campuses within the past six years, including one that launched in Lakeland, Minnesota, in November.

Both conferences are ripe for planting new churches.

“The conferences are home to thousands of millennials in the vibrant metro areas of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Sioux Falls, and Fargo/Moorhead,” said Rev. Cindy Gregorson, Minnesota Conference director of ministries. “And we have one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. We are diverse, as we are home to the largest Hmong and Liberian communities in the United States, as well as strong populations of Native Americans, Somali, and Hispanics, just to name a few.”

Rev. Rebecca Trefz, Dakotas Conference Director of Ministries added that the timing for this new position is perfect.

“Both conferences are engaged in capital campaigns and are seeing people respond generously to the call to invest in congregational and leadership development,” she said. “We are grateful for the timing of God working in Ben’s life and leading him to respond to our search. The Holy Spirit has been moving in all of this. We look expectantly for the ways in which that will continue as this new chapter begins.”

Ingebretson will be responsible for assessing the conferences’ current church-planting system, staffing it, and improving it. The vision is to develop a robust laboratory of new church development that has a proven track record of growing new starts into churches of strength and impact. Specific duties will include:

  • Strategically identifying areas and audiences ripe for new churches, including multi-site ministries and cultivating partner/parent churches that can reach into those areas.
  • Supervising for results of new church start projects, including developing a network of coaches and setting clear benchmarks; providing direction, resources, training, and appropriate intervention for  effective stewardship of people and resources.
  • Developing a pool of potential planters who have the heart, skills, and wisdom to reach new people and lead a start-up organization to sustainability.
  • Generating resources for new church development through the ongoing structure of the current capital campaigns, and by casting a vision of multiplication for reaching the next generation with existing congregations.
  • Projecting future conference budgets for new church starts and managing current grant allocations in accord with benchmarks, covenants, and long-range funding cycle models.
A native of the Fargo/Moorhead area, Ingebretson is no stranger to the Dakotas-Minnesota Area. He earned his master of divinity degree from Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul.

His family includes his wife, Deborah, a minister who serves the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan; three adult sons; and a foster son, who is from the Congo and currently a sophomore in high school. Foster care regulations require that Ingebretson and his wife continue to make Grand Rapids their home, so Ingebretson plans to commute to the Dakotas-Minnesota area between eight and 14 days each month and work virtually from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the remainder of the time.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058