Reach • Renew • Rejoice spiritual emphasis themes

June 03, 2014

Our Minnesota Conference initiative for congregational development was introduced last week during annual conference session. The initiative, Reach • Renew • Rejoice, challenges us with a call to reach new people, renew the church, and rejoice in what God can and will do through us! The spiritual emphasis and financial contributions through this effort are dedicated to starting new churches and growing existing churches. More specifically, the vision is:

Each year for the next seven years, we will:

  • Start one new church where demographics and opportunity align
  • Assist 20 existing churches in revitalizing their ministries
  • Partner with a vital parent church to multiply its ministry beyond its current site

More than a dozen presentations across the state over the past two months have oriented clergy and other key leaders to the case statement, congregational development track record, and plans for the future. At the outset, we seek to center this initiative in sound theological principles and spiritual practices. This spiritual emphasis is not about fundraising; it’s about how we can learn to REACH new people, RENEW the spirituality of ourselves and our congregations, and REJOICE in the wonderful ways God is at work in and through our churches.

It is unlikely that all United Methodist Churches in the state will be able to use worship and education resources on exactly the same timetable and implement them in exactly the same way, but we do want to provide an array of resources for all our churches to draw from to best address reaching, renewing, and rejoicing in their respective ministry contexts. We’re assembling a local church “toolbox” for developing the three themes that will include posters, training documents, and a flash drive with children and youth curriculum, adult small group resources, sermon outlines, worship liturgy, music suggestions, visual and creative arts ideas, promotional resources, and video clips. Training and distribution of materials will occur across all the districts during the second half of June. The spiritual emphasis themes, along with projected dates, are:

REACH (September 14, 2014)

  • Scripture: Matthew 28: 16-20
  • Key verse: “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.” (Matthew 28:19 CEB)
  • Theme: Reaching new people calls us to move from just being welcoming to being inviting. How do we respectfully, yet passionately, offer Christ to others?

RENEW (September 21, 2014)

  • Scripture: Isaiah 40: 27-31
  • Key verse: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31 CEB)
  • Theme: Renewing our spiritual lives individually and collectively doesn’t just happen. How can we intentionally grow more deeply in love of God and neighbor?

REJOICE (September 28, 2014)

  • Scripture: Psalm 92: 1-5
  • Key verse: “You made me so happy, God. I saw your work and I shouted for joy!” (Psalm 92:4 The Message)
  • Theme: Rejoicing in what God can and will do in and through us shifts our attention from our preferences to God’s purposes. How are we partnering with God to bring healing and hope to our communities?

My job responsibilities have shifted to include direction of this Reach • Renew • Rejoice effort. Although I’m keeping my current position and title, I’ve formed a congregational development staff team to maintain our momentum through the next 15 months.

Welcome these experienced and skilled leaders who have already taken initiative in creative ways beyond what I’ve previously been able to do alone: Diane Owen, congregational transformation specialist; Cathy Townley, church plant lead coach; Paul Marzahn, new church strategist; and Gail Johnson, congregational development coordinator. You’ll be hearing from them in this column as well. I’m still fully committed to congregational development, but just for a season, I will be turning my attention to garnering resources necessary to implement an inspired and aggressive seven-year plan.

Dan Johnson is now the Twin Cities District superintendent for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He used to be director of congregational development and Reach • Renew • Rejoice.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058