What’s Cooking in New Jersey?

by New Church Starts

by Doug Ruffle, Congregational Development Team Coordinator, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference (and Path 1 Team Northeastern Jurisdiction Representative)

In the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference we are excited about reaching new people with the gospel. Recently an Anglo church was able to reach out successfully to the Chinese-speaking population in suburbia. Rather than starting a Chinese language worship service, they have all embraced the idea of being together. Our conference helped pay the cost of investing in quality translation equipment to help.

We celebrate the continued growth of our Arabic language church, which to our knowledge, is the only Arabic-speaking United Methodist Church. This year at Annual Conference we celebrated the chartering of “Cornerstone UMC,” which is an English-speaking church that grew out of a Korean-speaking congregation. The same Korean-speaking congregation has given birth to a worship service in Spanish.  Our Portuguese language congregation in Harrison, New Jersey, has given birth to a Spanish language service.

We are most excited about working with Path 1 to bring the Lay Missionary Planting Network (LMPN) in Spanish to our conference. The topic is on the agenda for our next Hispanic Committee meeting and we have tentative plans to bring Alma Perez and Sam Rodriguez from Path 1 to our conference for an orientation on LMPN in Spanish. New Jersey’s population is 18% Hispanic/Latino. We are actively seeking new ways to reach this population. We have several examples of good working partnerships of Anglo churches who have opened their doors to the Latinos in their midst and have started worshiping communities of faith.

We have identified target areas where we want to start new Hispanic ministries and have been blessed by partnerships with a local foundation and the General Board of Global Ministries’ National Hispanic/Latino Plan to reach this population group. Plans have been made to start new communities of faith and offer needs-based evangelism.

We also celebrate a successful second campus ministry, called “Sharptown North” in the southernmost part of the state. Another planting initiative in Waretown, New Jersey, has engaged many younger people. As mentioned in an earlier blog, this church has coined the term, “active and consistent participation” to track how these younger people engage the ministry of the church.

New Jersey and the areas of our conference that include New York and Pennsylvania are richly diverse. We pray that efforts to reach a more diverse population will bear fruit for the sake of the Reign of God that Jesus inaugurated with his presence.

New Jersey is cooking up some incredible goals for church planting and following up on already successful projects. What’s your recipe for ambitious church planting?