New World UMC Thrives on Sharing the Gospel
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg
'Be a cheerleader for others,' says the Rev. Edgar Bazan, 'so everyone can find their place in God’s work and enjoy it.'
“There may be a miracle just around the corner that will bring new life to your congregation,” said the Rev. Dr. Edgar Bazan. He is senior pastor of the 180-member New World United Methodist Church in Garland, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
“Churches do not always come back from the decline many of us are experiencing,” Bazan admitted. “One of the most critical actions of any church is to not stop planting the seeds of the gospel, particularly with children and young people. The majority of those who come to church experience God when they are young, so bring the gospel to them.”
In 2022, New World UMC reported three baptisms, fifteen professions of faith, and seven members joining from other congregations. The church was honored with the One Matters Award from Discipleship Ministries.
“The church has an affable, caring and welcoming spirit,” Bazan said. “We reach out intentionally to families from the church’s day school and day care. We decided that was one of the most effective and practical ways to connect with new people who are already in some ways connected to the church. Most of our new members in the last three years have come from [those ministries].”
At New World UMC, church doesn’t just happen on Sunday. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Thursday evening, people gather for Bible studies. Another offering is a church-wide breakfast on the second Saturday of every month. Violin lessons are on the calendar for the near future. Community outreach also occurs regularly.
“In 2021, we asked, ‘What’s next?’ and agreed that we needed to become a more inviting and welcoming church,” Bazan recalled.
"In 2021, we asked, 'What’s next?' and agreed that we needed to become a more inviting and welcoming church."
Church leaders created two teams – Community Life and Church Life – and restarted the hospitality ministry.
“The Community Life team assignment was to help us connect with the neighboring schools and facilitate mission work with the staff and families in those schools,” the pastor said. “The Church Life team assignment was to create opportunities for the church to share through fun and inspiring events. The hospitality ministry ensures that people have a welcoming and caring experience when they come to worship with us.”
New World UMC also collaborated with Project Transformation, a volunteer opportunity for college-age young adults, to offer a summer camp to children in the neighborhood.
“We do events throughout the year such as Back-to-School Blessing, Christmas Toy Drive, and School Uniforms and Supplies Drive,” Bazan said. Church members reach out through various efforts at Heather Glen Elementary School and J.W. O’Banion Middle School. They assist with field day, collect school supplies, help with food-drive distribution, provide uniforms at the beginning of the school year and hoodies at Christmas, and read with younger children.
The congregation excels at welcoming the stranger.
“Most people in the church have a ‘hospitality spirit,’ so hardly anyone can come to church and be unnoticed and not warmly welcomed,” Bazan said. “We have a Hospitality Team trained in identifying new guests, making sure we connect with them (approaching and helping them connect with others), and sending them off with a gift.
“Our community outreach is strategically focused on the people – families and children in our church’s day school and the elementary and middle schools next door.”
Asked what distinguishes New World UMC from other faith communities, the pastor answered, “We are very generous and caring for one another. I think everyone is trying to be faithful as we make new disciples of Jesus, and it is not an easy task. Finding the right approach for effective ministry in reaching out to new and unchurched people takes time and many attempts.”
He advised: “Keep it faithful, fun, simple and practical. Take the guesswork out of ministry. Communicate clearly and effectively and do the heavy lifting at the beginning by getting things organized and done. Bring clarity to the work so that everyone knows what, when, how, and why it is happening. And be a cheerleader for others so everyone can find their place in God’s work and enjoy it.”
About One Matters Award:
Every year, Discipleship Ministries partners with Annual Conferences by offering the One Matters Award to one eligible congregation at each annual conference. The award, consisting of a commemorative plaque and a check for $1,000, is delivered to the congregation during the annual conference session. Click here to learn more.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg is a writer in Carbondale, Illinois.