Building Relationships

Vibrant Churches

Live Oak United Methodist Church – Watson, Louisiana

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Live Oak UMC in Watson, Louisiana began in the mid 1800′s as a part of the Methodist circuit. During the Civil War it was destroyed by the Union army, rebuilt in 1884 and received its charter in 1888. I am the 66th pastor since the church received its charter in 1888, and am now in my 17th year. Since 1996 LOUMC has experienced tremendous growth.

To give you some insight into the level of growth Live Oak Methodist has experienced I need to give you some history of the church.

In May of 1996 the average worship attendance was approximately 120 in worship with about 550 members. From June of 1996 to the present Live Oak has had a continual increase in membership and attendance. Today we have 1,900 members with an average worship attendance of 1,050.

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Harvest Church United Methodist – Dothan, Alabama

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In June of 1996, after fourteen years of youth ministry, I was appointed to begin a new church in Dothan, Alabama – a town of about 65,000 people. Today Harvest Church United Methodist is one of the one hundred largest churches in the denomination, averaging over 1,600 in weekly Sunday morning worship services. Less than 20% of those who attend have previous experience in the United Methodist Church. Many accept Christ after coming to Harvest, which indicates that real growth is taking place rather than just “taking” people from other churches.

Our primary keys to the growth of Harvest are the conviction that God called us to start the church and the determination to follow Him completely. Our goal is to bring people to Christ and to equip them to be able to make disciples for the rest of their lives.

At Harvest, we put strong emphasis on personal conversion and growing in relationship with God. We want people to know the freedom and purpose and wonder of really knowing God and living for Him. We believe this is the deepest desire and need of every person, so we try to remove the barriers and present Him in a winsome, non-threatening way.

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Chapin UMC – Chapin, South Carolina

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This is part of a series of interviews with pastors of churches whose attendance has grown 20% or more in 5 years. We hope this series will be a resource of ideas to help increase worship attendance at your church.   Casting Vision: Matt 28:16-20 / Luke 15 / healthy, living things grow Chapin UMC [...]

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The Orchard – Tupelo, Mississippi

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The Orchard church

The Orchard: A United Methodist Congregation was launched in December of 1998 as a parachute drop of the Mississippi Annual Conference. In the last 12 years it has grown to nearly 2,000 in weekend worship attendance now worshipping in four sites throughout the region. The vision of The Orchard is to be devoted to the cultivation of fruit for Christ’s Kingdom (John 15:16) by helping people grow deep in the love of Jesus and branch out to others with that love. The heart of living out this distinct call in its region can be best expressed by The Orchard’s attention to 5 specific strategies.

An Alternative Expression of the Gospel: The Orchard often gets labeled as “contemporary” because we sing music that is called by the same name. However, we describe what God has called us to as “an alternative expression of the Gospel.” What we mean by that is that in whatever way the Gospel is being expressed in the community in which we exist—we want to express it in an alternative way. This also means that as other churches begin to speak in the same way we are, we learn new cultural languages so that we become alternative again. These alternative expressions certainly include music types, but also expectations about dress, service times, opportunities and outreach partners in the community. We want to be doing what no one would expect the church to do when it comes to advancing the Kingdom of Christ. The key is, however, an alternative expression of The Gospel. We are not working to advance our Kingdom—but Christ’s. That is the direction all our efforts are focused in.

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McKinney United Methodist Church – La Marque, Texas

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McKinney UMC La Marque TX

Knowing the Make-Up Enhances the Make-Over

McKinney United Methodist Church is a church that serves within a community consisting predominately of seniors and less than one third of the population being considered young adults, those under 30 years of age. Another key identifying element in this make-up is the number of children being reared by grandparents and rapidly emerging Hispanic families leading to a change in demographics and multiculturism. These dynamics, along with economic woes of the region due in large part to widespread loss of jobs in industry such as refineries, hospitals, and schools that support more than seventy percent of all employment opportunities, created an environment inundated by socio-economic hardships. In addition, the community at large is one of great heritage steeped in monuments and memorials of the past and less movement towards the future. Consequently, there was an experience of stagnation within the church and community that made evangelism challenging. However, it was the realization of these elements that has helped McKinney identify and conceptualize its mission field and begin making adjustments in the ways we do ministry, from the inside out. In other words, we as the church, began to meet the people exactly at their point of need in their everyday lives. This is the origin of our experience in church growth.

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Grace United Methodist Church – Greensboro, North Carolina

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Grace UMC Steeple

“Reach, teach and unleash people for Christ”

Grace Church is located in downtown Greensboro, a block and a half from one of the largest United Methodist Churches in our annual conference. During the 1950’s and 60’s Grace was a vibrant community of faith. However, in the 1970’s the population shifted to the suburbs. And like many downtown churches, Grace began to experience 35 straight years of decline in worship attendance and membership. In early 2000, however, all that began to change. During the last eleven years the worshipping attendance at Grace has grown from 140 to 325 each Sunday, the average age of the congregation has dropped from “70” to “40”, and the number of children and youth has grown from 15 to 150. Grace is now a vibrant community of faith offering a variety of ministries focused on helping children, youth, and adults follow the way of Jesus so they can be used by God to transform the world for love.

Here are a few of the steps that helped that process happen.

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Cypress Lake United Methodist Church – Ft. Myers , Florida

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Cypress Lake UMC is located in a mostly residential area of southwest Ft. Myers, Florida. It is one of 9 United Methodist churches in the immediate Ft. Myers area. While it is composed of a largely retired membership, it has over the past 8 years had a growing attendance among younger adults and families with children.

When people are asked why they come to Cypress Lake UMC a number of answers come to the forefront.

They were invited by a neighbor or a friend. The people of CLUMC are excited to tell about their church and its ministries.
The church is intentional in its efforts to make young families welcome. The church has a growing ministry with children which features age specific activities on weekday evenings and weekends. Child care is offered at every church event. Bible studies and other events are offered specifically for younger parents such as parent’s night out, Mom’s Bible Studies, etc.

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Argyle United Methodist Church – Argyle, Texas

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At Argyle United Methodist Church, we believe that our effectiveness in evangelism is directly related to how positively we are impacting the lives of the children, youth and adults in our community. Engagement begins with our members, who are encouraged to get involved with our local schools, neighborhood associations, non-profits, and businesses so that they can help our church find creative ways to serve others and offer Christ to the people who live and work in our mission field. To assist in these efforts, our Faithworx ministry team helps identify needs, coordinate service projects, solicit volunteers, and secure the funding we need to relieve suffering as Jesus did. In addition to participating in our ongoing missions, each one of our church’s ministry teams is asked to sponsor at least one servant evangelism event a year. Efforts like our “Spice up the winter” salsa give-away, reverse trick-or-treating, neighborhood pool parties, and outdoor movie nights have helped our church reach out to hundreds of families. On a much larger scale, each year we choose a Sunday to “cancel” church so that we can go out to “be the church”. We call this our Great Day of Service. To learn more about “servant evangelism” visit Steve Sjogren’s website

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Calvary United Methodist Church – Normal, Illinois

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Calvary UMC new building

Established in 1960, the people of Calvary United Methodist Church in Normal, Illinois relocated to a new 40 acre site early in 2002. With the building program came intentional teaching and preaching about growth, reaching beyond the boundaries of the building, and making disciples for Jesus Christ.

We continually ask the question, “What can we do to make our measure of hospitality exceed the expectations of our visitors?” We strategically station greeters at entrance points, offer free coffee, lemonade, and pastries, provide gift mugs to first time visitors, and offer guided tours of the building. At the beginning of each service the Directing Pastor clearly articulates words of greeting to visitors using phrases like, “It is an honor to have you with us today. If you are new to our community or looking for a church home, we invite you to connect with Calvary. We would love to be your church home.” We provide the best of nursery care in a safe and attractive environment, and offer outstanding ministries for children, students and parents.

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Blue Grass United Methodist Church – Evansville, Indiana

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Bluegrass building 2

Blue Grass United Methodist Church, located on the outskirts of Evansville, Indiana, is the oldest United Methodist congregation in Vanderburgh County, dating back to 1824. Blue Grass has a long rich history that begins with Circuit Riders, but the congregation refuses to dwell on its past successes. Instead, it has chosen to be faithful to what God is calling us to do today to prepare us for a fantastic future.

Over the past 15 years, Blue Grass has experienced tremendous change. From one traditional worship service to three contemporary and one traditional service. From 130 in worship to 430 in worship. From 250 members to over 600 members. From four staff members to twenty, including, our pre-school ministry. From three acres of land to thirty-three acres.

We are located in one of the growing areas of the county. We have been positioned in this location for 185 years to receive the growth that has finally reached our once rural community. We were once dubbed the “best kept secret” in town and have become one of the most known churches in the area.

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