Treats not Tricks— The UMC’s fasted growing Churches

christ-1618197_640_opt

Here is a positive and helpful article on church growth in the UMC, and where and how it is happening. Note that the majority of these churches are in the Southeast region of the UMC, and a good 40% of the senior pastors of these churches went to Asbury. Of the rest, another 30% or so are Evangelical pastors as well. None of these churches are in the Western Jurisdiction.

Fastest-Growing UMC Congregations Led by Evangelical, Southern, Asbury-Educated Pastors

Here’s an excerpt from the article—

First, here is his 2017 list:

Rank Church Name City State Sr Pastor Pastor Since 2015 AWA Rank by size 5 Yr Growth Last Year
1 Embrace Sioux Falls SD Adam Weber 2007 3,082 12 1042% 1
2 Community of Hope Loxahatchee Groves FL Dale Locke 1996 1,276 91 228% 2
3 The Gathering Saint Louis MO Matt Miofsky 2006 1,100 140 134% —
4 Providence Church Mt. Juliet TN Jacob Armstrong 2008 1,060 151 128% —
5 Calvary East Brunswick NJ Sang Won Doh 2010 1019 161 126% —
6 Impact Atlanta GA Olu Brown 2006 2,250 26 107% 4
7 Evangelical (EUM) Greenville OH Jeff Harper 2011 1,214 107 82% 3
8 Sun City Center Sun City Center FL Charles Rentz 2014 1,126 134 80% —
9 Faithbridge Spring TX Ken Werlein 1999 3,314 9 73% 5
10 Crosspoint Niceville FL Rurel Ausley 1998 3,264 10 61% 9
11 First Coral Springs FL Vance Rains 2016 1,085 145 58% —
12 The Chapel Brunswick GA Jay Hanson 2004 1,076 147 55% —
13 Christ Fairview Heights IL Shane Bishop 1997 2,145 33 53% 7
14 St. Luke’s Oklahoma City OK Bob Long 1991 1,722 55 52% 13
15 First McKinney TX Thomas Brumett 2008 1,787 50 50% 11
16 New Covenant The Villages FL Harold Hendren 2011 2,289 24 48% 16
17 Cokesbury Knoxville TN Stephen Defur 1998 4,157 7 48% 12
18 Live Oak Watson LA Mark Crosby 1996 1,437 73 47% 19
19 St. Peter’s Katy TX Patrick Sparks 2013 1,453 71 43% 8
20 The Orchard Tupelo MS Bryan Collier 1998 2,711 15 42% 14
21 Christ Memphis TN Shane Stanford 2011 1,911 44 40% 25
22 Church of the Resurrection Leawood KS Adam Hamilton 1990 9,441 1 39% —
23 Woodlawn Panama City Beach FL Joe Lay 2011 1,271 93 34% 18
24 Good Shepherd Cypress TX Bill Haygood 1993 1,036 159 33% —
25 Good Shepherd Charlotte NC Talbot Davis 1999 1,998 40 30% 20

Wilson’s own website answers questions some may have about his methodology, and offers some worthwhile insights. Among things, Wilson has noted a common thread of rapid growth generally occurring under senior pastors who have been in place for a long time.

In this year’s list, in only three congregations was the senior pastor listed above in place for less than four years in the 2010-2015 period of Wilson’s measurements. Charles Rentz took the helm of Sun City Center UMC in 2014, while it was previously shepherded by Warren Dexter Langer, Jr. For First UMC in Coral Springs, Florida, the current senior pastor (listed above) took over only in 2016, but Alex Shanks was senior pastor for 2012-2016, while Sara Mckinley was senior pastor there before that. Patrick Sparks has only been senior pastor of St. Peter’s UMC in Katy Texas since 2013, taking the helm from Donald Alan Smith.

While this group of United Methodist congregations is certainly not monolithic, there are several noteworthy generalizations that can be made. These observations are consistent with what I found in analyzing Wilson’s similar lists he compiled in 2016 and in 2015.

First of all, this is an overwhelmingly Southern group of congregations. Of these 25 congregations, 13 of them (52 percent) are in the UMC’s Southeastern Jurisdiction, which is well-known as the most relatively conservative of our five U.S. jurisdictions. Another eight (32 percent) are in the South Central Jurisdiction. Three more (12 percent) are in the North Central Jurisdiction. Only one is in the liberal-leaning Northeastern Jurisdiction.

Not a single one is within the geographically huge Western Jurisdiction, which encompasses every state with a Pacific coastline in addition to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!