Submitted by the Rev. Susan Otey
New Faith Community Developer, Yellowstone Conference
In early February, four Mountain Sky Area teams from Montana and Colorado traveled to Seal Beach, California to take part in the LaunchPad event. LaunchPad, a two-day event sponsored by the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, is designed to help church planters and those beginning new faith communities create a year-long plan for growing their community. The Mountain Sky Area teams included a team from Colorado Springs working to reach veterans, a team from Great Falls, Montana focusing on individuals in Generation X, a team from Billings, Montana seeking those in the social justice arena, and a team from Columbia Falls, Montana concentrating on people who see the outdoors as their church. The teams had a fruitful two days. Jennifer Maxwell, a representative from Billings, said, “Launchpad gave us our own blueprint to do God’s work.”
The Rev. Curtis Brown from PATH 1, the New Church Starts Team of Discipleship Ministries, led 15 teams from four conferences through the nuts and bolts of planting a new faith community that can take roots and grow. Courtney Van Linder, of the Mountain Sky Area, gave testimony to Rev. Brown’s leadership: “Launchpad gave me tangible tools to help start my new faith community, as well as instilled in me the confidence and courage that me and my team can make this dream come true.”
Each team came away with a plan for the next year that focuses on the four major areas of new faith communities: gathering, discipleship, worship and funding. As the teams head home they will work through their plans to gather their core teams, meet people in their communities, create discipleship practices, and invite people into a community where they can grow as disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.
Each of the new faith communities targets a population that is not currently well-represented in churches, and Sherry Ferriman, a pastor from Colorado Springs, walked away with a renewed energy to reach these populations: “Two things that stuck out to me were that to target people who are not already going to church, church must be more interesting, more valuable, than anything else they are (or could be) doing. The other thing was (that) the number one reason to return to church is time, trust, and transparency. These ideas stuck to me and will become the foundation on which I look to build the new faith community.”
For more information on LaunchPad, or these churches and faith communities of the Mountain Sky Area, please contact the Rev. Susan Otey.