Hubbard United Methodist Church has many longtime members—and they remember several times when the church was on the brink of closing its doors. Today, it’s healthy and vibrant, and those longtime members want to do their part to ensure that United Methodist churches across Minnesota are healthy for generations to come.
That’s why members decided to pledge 20 percent of their 2014 income (over five years) to the Reach • Renew • Rejoice initiative for congregational development. Through Reach • Renew • Rejoice, over the next seven years, the conference will start seven new churches, assist 140 churches in revitalizing their ministries, and partner with seven vital parent churches to multiply their ministry beyond their current sites.
“What we’re doing is investing in something that will benefit their children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren because, even if they don’t grow up and live in Hubbard, we’ll have stronger, healthier churches throughout Minnesota,” said Rev. Laurie Kantonen, Hubbard UMC’s pastor. “God has blessed us to be a blessing, and maybe some of those churches that we’re helping will eventually find themselves in a position to pay it forward.”
United Methodists throughout Minnesota have pledged generous support for the initiative, which is focused on starting new churches and revitalizing existing churches throughout the state. More than $2 million had been pledged as of March 1, and more than $500,000 had been given. The initiative’s “breakthrough” goal is $2.5 million, and its “rejoice” (or ultimate) goal is $3.7 million.
All Minnesota churches have been invited to hear a presentation about the initiative, and most of those presentations have been scheduled or completed. Pledges will continue coming in during the months leading up to annual conference in late May.
“The money is important, but just opening the door to hearing our Congregational Development story in Minnesota is an inspiring first step,” said Dan Johnson, director of Congregational Development and Reach • Renew •Rejoice. “When we share and receive stories of God’s life-changing work among us, we become the stories we tell.”
More than one-third of the churches that have pledged thus far have agreed to be “tithe goal partners”—meaning they will give 10 percent of their 2014 income over a five-year period (2 percent each year).
STORM Faith Community—a coalition of three house churches across the Twin Cities that has 25 to 30 active members—provided 45 percent of its 2014 offerings upfront in support of Reach • Renew •Rejoice.
“We exist because of the annual conference,” said Rev. David Brown. He planted STORM in 2010 with conference support and still has a quarter-time appointment as its leader. He has seen firsthand the way that new churches can reach new people and wants to make sure the conference is able to continue to facilitate those opportunities.
At a church planting conference he attended a number of years ago, one of the speakers said something that’s stuck with Brown: “Every Christian should be a church-planting Christian and every church should be a church-planting church.”
“It’s true—Jesus calls all of us individually and corporately to build the kingdom,” he said. “As we witness to others and people decide to follow Jesus, that’s building the church. And as a whole church body, we should be looking for ways we can plant other churches. That’s what Reach • Renew • Rejoice is.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church