GracePoint UMC Final Service – My Response

I was saddened but not particularly surprised to hear the news that GracePoint United Methodist Church would end worship this past weekend. After the formation of Grace Point Community Church, the potential viability of Grace Point UMC seemed small. I appreciate the commitment of the annual conference to north west Wichita, but I believe that the damage has been done that will last.

I do not believe that it would be healthy or helpful for the United Methodist Church to use the land and building plans of GracePoint UMC for a future church start. I believe that the land and assets should be liquidated and the money used for future new church starts, but not necessarily a direct correlation to a single future church.

I believe that the new church start that was GracePoint UMC has been and will continue to bear fruit in God’s kingdom.

It is okay that the new church start that was GracePoint UMC did not work out for the Kansas West Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church. I believe that the annual conference should be about starting more new churches, not less as a result of this scenario. They will not all become viable or develop exactly as planned. But some will and will produce fruit a hundred fold.

Other posts on GracePoint happenings:

In what ways do you agree? In what ways do you disagree?

14 thoughts on “GracePoint UMC Final Service – My Response

  1. I don’t know whether the UMC should be considering a new church start in the same area where GracePoint UMC was, but I think if they do there should be time given for the area to “lay fallow” for a while. Most importantly, I think, Kansas West must take special care to make an intentional effort to practice forgiveness. There is much to be forgiven- but I don’t believe the grievances need to be listed publicly. However, we do profess a belief in the church as one body, across all denominations, and must therefore forgive and pray that God will still be able to use the ministry of Gracepoint Community church for the good of NW Wichita.

  2. Good thoughts, Andrew. I agree with everything you say, except I think that the KS West UMC DOES need to plant a new church in NW Wichita – and right away! GP Community church is only reaching around 1,000 people right now. That’s great, but there are tens of thousands of people in NW Wichita not being reached by any other church. Another UM church that looks like every other church is NOT needed, of course, but one that reaches people is needed.

    They should not wait – and I don’t think they should sell the land. The land they have is prime real estate right where the city is expanding. In that respect, the UMC is ahead of the curve and needs to stay ahead by planting a new, vital, and exciting church.

    I know it will be hard, but the Conference has got to get over the other church leaving and move on with the mission of reaching people for Jesus. Laying low, liquidating assets, taking time to examine what they should do next are not the steps the Bishop should lead the conference in. They need to identify somebody who has the vision, fire, and energy to do exactly what Bryson did (minus the leaving part!)- and do it this year! Don’t name it GracePoint, but get it going. There’s too many people who need to be reached.

    Another way to think about all of this is that the UMC has already planted one successful church in NW Wichita (in the last 5 years)- and it is still pastored by Bryson, it’s just not UMC. GP Community wouldn’t be here with the UMC. End of story. Now the Bishop needs to do it again. And if we don’t have the resources needed to lead a strong, driven church planter then they need to find those resources.

    To me, liquidating assets, waiting, etc… all point to failure. But that’s not the truth. GP is a successful church plant that took place under the UMC umbrella. They need to do it again. If they can’t do it again, I think it points to a fundamental flaw in the UMC structure.

    1. Kevin – You provide a good corrective on the land. It may not be the most helpful to sell the land, particularly as it is in a good location and will likely become more valuable over time. I wonder if it makes sense for a church to be started in the same way in which GracePoint was planted. The approach to ministry certainly proved to be effective in that part of the city. However I know that going off someone else’s vision is not a good plan.

  3. I agree with you, Kevin – except I’m sure that you actually meant to say “GP Community wouldn’t be here withOUT the UMC”, which is absolutely true. As a member of GP Community, I appreciate the UMC for everything it did to get GP going.

    And I also hope that there will be a new, vital UMC plant in NW Wichita sooner rather than later. I think it would probably be a good idea to go with a different name to avoid confusion and comparisons, but there is no doubt that the location of the land is a wonderful spot to reach that area of the city for Christ. I pray that the UMC will be wildly successful in doing just that.

    1. Gil – Thanks for your perspective as a member of GP Community. I have not received much information at all from persons who are now an active part of GP Community. I appreciate your generosity of spirit and desire to see churches of all kinds thrive in NW Wichita. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the great post! I stumbled upon this blog after it was linked to mine automatically through wordpress…

    1. yes plant more churches! be daring and cutting edge!

    2. don’t give churches dumb names like gracepointe!

    3. GP looked successful but from a distance (ive only recently read about it) but it seemed to just want to be another megachurch with light shows and contemporary music…. lets look at building churches that focus on social justice, the arts, wellness, and particpation–especially from young adults and poor and working class communities

    just some quick thought

    1. mikeoles3 – Your quick thoughts are good. I think that new church plants should have all kinds of foci. Some may grow up to be mega churches, but that cannot be the only paradigm for planting new churches.

      1. Andrew,

        What is all this fixation with following the “flight” to the suburbs? If I read the Gospel rightly, I doubt that a latte drinking, rock and roll worshipping, media and advertising driven church catering to people in the top 20% economic of our area is where we would expect to find Jesus hanging out. I am less and less enamored with church starts chasing after the most priviledged of our population when the faithful churches serving the urban core’s hungery, homeless and lonely are closing from a lack of funding.

        Suburban rock and roll church is fun… but at the end of the day… is it faithful?

        1. Sam – You seem to suggest that it is not faithful. I believe that there is a need for ministry in all places. Sin and brokenness is a part of the reality of those who are pretty on the outside and hurting on the outside.

  5. This is a good response. I like your focus on God’s Kingdom, not just the institution. It is also good to hear from a pastor in the KS West Conference.

    1. spencerss – Thanks for your response. I am a part of the Kansas West Conference while currently serving in the Kansas East conference. I recognize that I am connected and yet also disconnected in some ways. In any case, thanks for your thoughts.

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