The Minnesota Conference’s vision is for all congregations to live out God’s call to grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.
The Minnesota Conference has a seven-year plan for congregational development. Its two components: starting new churches and growing existing churches by equipping them to increase vitality.
The conference launched a capital campaign in 2014 to raise funds for these efforts, and as of June 2016, pledges had surpassed the $3.7 million goal. Thanks be to God, and thank you for your generosity!
Through this initiative, each year for seven years, we will start one new church where demographics and opportunity align, assist 20 existing churches in revitalizing their ministries, and partner with a vital parent church to multiply its ministry beyond its current site. These efforts will occur in every district within the Minnesota Conference.
We will start a variety of new churches. Church starts typically fall into these categories:
Chartered church: A church that is launched to reach a new geographic-, demographic-, or lifestyle-based group and is led by appointed clergy; churches become chartered when they reach 125 in worship and demonstrate sustainability.
Partnered congregation: A church that focuses on reachingan underserved and/or economically challenged population group and receives ongoing support from outside of the people it serves—often from another “partner” church.
Restart: A previously chartered church that goes through an intentional rebirth by ceasing regular worship and programming and starting over in an effort to reach a new group; typically, the process involves relocating, renaming, and welcoming a new leader.
Fellowship: A United Methodist group with a spiritual leader who may be clergy or lay; fellowships are on track to become self-supporting as unchartered churches, although some seek a charter later in their life cycle.
We will support existing congregations in becoming more vital. Vital congregations are prepared to reach and disciple new people, and equipped to help members grow in their love of God and neighbor.
The conference’s three consultation-based programs are:
Healthy Church Initiative: Designed to help churches grow spiritually, numerically, and in community impact.
Missional Church Consultation Initiative: Created to prepare large churches for growth and the launch of additional physical sites.
Choosing the Faithful Path: A 10-week self study that helps small congregations to explore the next step God is calling them to take—whether it's merging, closing, or going through a more intensive revitalization process.
Multi-site ministry: One of the most effective ways to reach new people is for an existing church to extend its ministry beyond its doors by starting a new worshiping community at an additional physical location—often in a neighboring community where there is not a United Methodist church or at a new site in its surrounding community that might better connect with younger generations. An intentional effort to start a new worshiping community increases congregational vitality for the parent congregation as it renews its focus to reach new people.
Cultural ministry: Healthy, vibrant churches are the ones best equipped to spawn new ministries. Some vital churches multiply their ministries by hosting a new group within their facility and organizational structure—one that provides ministry to a population with a specific cultural background and that targets different people than those served by the church.
Starting new churches: $1,900,000
Growing existing churches: $1,800,000
Total investment over seven years: $3,700,000
Each church had an opportunity to learn more about this initiative, and members of each congregation were asked to prayerfully consider the commitment they could make over a three-year period.
Starting new churches and growing existing churches cost approximately $1 million in 2013, with roughly half of that going toward each effort. About 50 percent of the $1 million came from apportionments, and the remaining 50 percent came from other sources—primarily, the Permanent Church Extension Fund, a decades-old congregational development fund, and legacy assets from churches that closed.
As earnings from the fund have been put to good use to start new churches and support congregational development programs and ministries in recent years, the Permanent Church Extension Fund has been depleted almost to its original principal level. Additional funds are needed in order to support continued efforts to reach new people and increase congregational vitality.
Congregational development initiatives from 2014 on will be funded by the $3.7 million pledged through Reach • Renew • Rejoice and by apportioned dollars that come in; those two funding sources, together, will enable the conference to start new churches and revitalize existing churches.
The Minnesota Conference began living into the plan in 2014. Here's a brief recap of progress to date:
New churches: The Minnesota Conference is currently supporting 10 new faith communities. Those include two started in 2014 (The Beloved in St. Paul and The Bridge, a second site for Rosemount UMC), two started in 2015 (New City Church in Minneapolis and a Twin Cities campus of Embrace Church, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota), and two started in 2016 (Northwest Minneapolis United Methodist Ministry, a Hmong faith community in Robbinsdale, and a second site for Centennial UMC in Roseville).
Revitalized churches: In 2014 and 2015, 40 churches started one of the conference’s revitalization processes—the Healthy Church Initiative, the Missional Church Consultation Initiative, or Choosing the Faithful Path. More than a dozen additional churches are in their second or third year of the Healthy Church Initiative. More churches are beginning a process in 2016.
The Minnesota Conference’s new churches and vital congregations are transforming lives by reaching and discipling new people and helping members grow in their faith.
Spirit River Community | Chartered Church
“We weren’t even looking for a church really. We met some Spirit River Community folk at their booth at Rodeo Days this summer. They invited us to come to church, and since we’ve been coming, our home is less chaotic and we feel connected and supported. We just feel like we’re healing and growing as a family. Now we’re addicted!”
~ Tom & Christina Westphal, Spirit River Community, Big Waters District
Wells UMC | Completed Healthy Church Initiative
“There is an excitement in our church that wasn’t there a few years ago. It started when we went through the Healthy Church Initiative. As we implemented the recommendations . . . we started feeling an excitement for what we could become as a congregation. People show up early now on Sunday morning and stay late.
~ Kevin & Cari Stenzel, Wells United Methodist Church, Southern Prairie District
Nexus | Multi-site
“As one who is always overwhelmed by large crowds, I have found comfort in the intimacy and closeness of Nexus. Allowing its attendants to verbalize their opinions on a wide range of topics and issues, I know Nexus to be a very appealing, interactive faith community.
~ Maurya Torgerson, Nexus, a ministry of Grace United Methodist Church, Fergus Falls, North Star District
Homestead Church | Restart
“I am so thankful to have grown up in such an authentic, loving, and faithful church. My family at Homestead helped me keep a strong faith as I went through high school, which was a time when a lot of people around me didn’t make God their first priority. What Homestead’s mission has taught me in the last few years is how important it is to follow God’s plan.”
~ Alissa Dean, college student, Homestead Church, River Valley District
Centennial UMC | Completed Readiness 360
“My faith has grown immensely through Centennial. The spiritual stories, biblical interpretations, and experiences shared by other Centennial members have reminded me that we have a calling and a strong faith will get you through any day.”
~ Danny Mishek, Centennial United Methodist Church, Twin Cities District
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church