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 A Report from the Director MARCH 7, 2012 
Time to InviteTime to Invite

In the last year, several friends who live in different parts of the country have returned to church after a number of years of inactivity. This is encouraging and counter to the national trend since 2002 of fewer people attending church. There are two striking characteristics among these church returners.

None returned to a church of their former denomination.
All returned because they were invited by a friend.
Inviting friends to church or even a church-related activity is much less common and comfortable today for many church members than it once was. However, the recent Faith Communities Today research on growing and declining churches found that the strongest positive relationship to growth among programs and activities was “the extent to which a congregation is involved in evangelism or recruitment.” These churches exhibit a major orientation toward inviting others.

Does this outward, invitational ethos characterize your church’s members?

Many rightfully admire the remarkable example of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection near Kansas City in growing from a new church start in 1990 to one of the largest mainline congregations in the United States. One of the characteristics of Resurrection from the beginning — and modeled by its gifted pastor Adam Hamilton — is to identify a few important next steps they need to take each year. Adam recently described the three (notice there are not 10 or 12!) priorities for 2012.

One of Resurrection’s three goals for 2012 is that “each member of the church will be called to and equipped for a renewed practice of inviting our friends, neighbors and colleagues.” ¬†Pastor Hamilton reminded members that “most people who come to faith in Christ do so because a trusted friend shared their faith or invited them to church. The impact of each of us sharing Christ with others is astounding.”

This is a good reminder that whether your church numbers its members in the thousands or dozens, the call of Jesus to share the Good News with others as a natural result of God’s love for us is the work not merely of a pastor, staff, or a committee — essential as they are — but of all who bear the name Christian.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr.
Building a Hopeful Financial FutureSave $15 on the Building a Hopeful Financial Future
DVD/CD Resource

Learn to fund your ministries better: Bring the best of the Building a Hopeful Financial Future Conference home to your church with videos, PowerPoint presentations, outlines of key points, and more. Save $15 when you preorder through Saturday, March 10; and save further on special bundles of other Funding Your Congregation's Vision resources. Learn more and preorder today.
Apply Now for the 2012/2013 Lewis Fellows Program

We are pleased to announce that Wesley Seminary and the Lewis Center have received a Transition into Ministry grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., to help fund the continuation of the Lewis Fellows program for young clergy. The program brings together outstanding young clergy (generally those under the age of 35) from a variety of denominational backgrounds for intensive leadership development activities and sustained peer interaction. Learn more about the program, meeting dates, costs, and eligibility requirements. Applications are due by April 30, 2012.

2011 Lewis Fellows
Congregational  Attendance ProfileImprove Worship Attendance with CAP

Worship attendance is a primary indicator of congregational vitality, but few churches track attendance in a way that reveals long-term trends. CAP, the Congregational Attendance Profile, new from the Lewis Center, reveals these trends to help you improve worship attendance. Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says, “Churches have shown major improvement in attendance by acting on lessons learned from CAP.” CAP is available for $39. Learn more and order today.
Focus: The Real Challenges that Face The United Methodist Church.Weems Writes Significant New Book for United Methodists

Few would disagree that many challenges face The United Methodist Church. But what are the core issues and concerns, the ones that must be addressed if the church is to follow God’s leading into the future? What must be “reset” rather than merely tweaked or adjusted? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., addresses these vital issues in Focus: The Real Challenges That Face The United Methodist Church. Learn more.
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