Success Stories Abound

“The ultimate goal of Connectional Blueprint is to share our faith and invite people into the full life of the church,” explained the Rev. Dee Stickley-Miner. “We focus on helping people move from the easier way of engaging mission – transactional – toward relational mission.” Often, this requires doing ministry differently. Here are a few examples:

  • Central City UMC, a new church start in Columbus, created a “bottoms-up free store,” geared especially for babies, to combat infant mortality. The store also maximized the congregation’s existing relationships with neighborhood families.

  • Epworth UMC, Marion, members saw their parking lot as an asset as hundreds of people walk through it every day. They launched free “Hotdog Wednesdays” and started getting to know people. “Instead of assuming what their neighbors needed,” Stickley-Miner said, “they heard the aspirations and focused around them. Some began attending church. The church is now part of a community conversation regarding housing development.”

  • First UMC, Bellefontaine, wanted to engage youth. They hired a youth ministry leader who was also committed to social justice. “Because of the social justice interest,” Stickley-Miner said, “they also hired a part-time staff person for community engagement and are looking at housing development and hunger.”

  • First UMC, Franklin, decided to zero in on relational mission and outreach. Highlighting the church’s assets – the building, the leadership and the connection with an elementary school, the congregation started to dream about other ways to engage the community. Today, community partners come to them because they see how the church can help them in their mission.

  • First UMC, Wapakoneta, became a part of a foster child’s transition plan into independent living. “This came,” Stickley-Miner said, “because the church shifted away from transactional mission to relational mission. For foster children, having a caring community during transition into adulthood is critical.”

  • Leipsic UMC had housed a child care center for several years, but the church and the center had no connection. “The pastor began showing up and doing devotionals at the center,” Stickley-Miner said. “She began to learn the names of the children. When the children saw her in the community, they would call her by name.” The congregation also started to connect by inviting parents to specific events that involved their children.

  • North Lewisburg UMC founded a satellite campus in a senior housing community. Rather than continuing a tradition of dropping off food to share with the seniors, church members began to stay and visit with them. The seniors, they realized, wanted a deeper sense of community and faith engagement. The housing community had vacant rooms, so people who were homeless were invited to live there. “It was the group of seniors with whom the church connected who welcomed them,” Stickley-Miner noted.

“Each congregation,” she said, “is asked to look at where they already have connections and to start from there. Success builds success.”