All Innovation Articles


Church Leadership Two-Day Event

7/6/2022
Church Leadership Two-Day Event Evangelism in the Post-Christian Context Duke Endowment Scholarship Available to Attend Dr. David Wilkinson and Family from Durham, England Long’s Chapel UMC Lake Junaluska, NC 28745 July 29th and 30th

Food & Faith Event in Western NC

6/20/2022
Check out this Food and Faith event in Western North Carolina sponsored by the Come to the Table Program.  At Come to the Table, we work to empower faith communities to participate in the creation of a just food system through collaboration, capacity building, and advocacy. On July 12 from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., we will be hosting a regional gathering in Mills River, and we would love to get the word out to pastors or lay leaders in your network. At the gathering, we will have sessions on "...

Hatchathon 2022

5/12/2022
Dates: September 22-24, 2022 Location:  Huntersville, NC (WNCC headquarters) Are you nursing an entrepreneurial idea for ministry, but don’t know how to get it started (much less fund it)? Is your church ready to move a social enterprise idea down the field that funds other aspects of ministry? Could you use the wisdom of others to test-drive an idea for missional entrepreneurship? What’s a Hatchathon? A Hatchathon is a collaborative incubator experience, where creative people get coaching and ...

Innovator's Buzz Session (February 28, 2022)

2/6/2022
Here's a little invitation for you: Can you join us for a little while on February 28, 2022, via Zoom? A Buzz Session is a gathering where Christian innovators (typically from WNCC churches, though not always!) talk about the projects they're working on, and then have give-and-take of ideas and suggestions for next steps of development from the folks on the call.

Worship Matters Podcast - Digital Media: What We Have Learned

2/2/2022
The Worship Team is joined by Rob Hutchinson and Mike Symonds of Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Steven Adair from United Methodist Communications to talk about the perils and pitfalls, but mostly about the joy and possibilities of digital media for worship today.

Introduction to Fresh Expressions with Bishop Carter and Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand

1/5/2022
Is your church looking for new ways to connect with its neighbors? Churches across the Western NC Conference are discovering new and creative ways to be the church with their neighbors by starting fresh expressions. In this one-hour webinar, we'll be joined by Bishop Ken Carter and Rev. Dr. Stephanie Hand to learn about what Fresh Expressions is and why every church should consider starting one.

Fresh Expressions PRE-CONFERENCE @ Exponential 2022 in Orlando!

12/8/2021
Fresh Expressions PRE-CONFERENCE @ Exponential 2022 in Orlando! Join us at a Pre-Conference Workshop entitled: "Fresh Expressions: Multiplication, Multi-site, and Missional Vitality for Everyday Christians" featuring Bishop Ken Carter and WNCC-Metro District's Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand. The realities of the last two years have thrust the church into a new era.  The challenge before us is not only to rebuild but to build anew.  For the foreseeable future we need a way of being church that is flexible in form, timely in context, rooted in depth, and scalable in resource.  This is the call for a new kind of local church.

Second Round of the BOTH/AND Hybrid Worship Cohort Grant Now Open!

11/30/2021
Your community is eagerly waiting to experience God during your worship service and you have the tools to foster this encounter BOTH in-person AND online! Hybrid worship expert, Jason Moore, and the WNCC Church Development Office, in partnership with the UM Foundation of Western NC and the Reynolds Ministry Fund, is excited to offer the second round of the BOTH/AND Hybrid Worship Cohort Grant. Explore how your church can build relationships with your congregation members and neighbors through both online and in-person worship experiences during monthly cohorts and individual sessions with hybrid worship expert, Jason Moore, and various "learning lab" hands-on training opportunities! Spaces are limited. Register today.

Checkpoint Church (CV, WNCC) Creates Video Game for Advent

11/23/2021
Checkpoint Church, a digital church plant in Western North Carolina, decided that they would create a video game this Advent. This church plant was formed as the church for nerds, geeks, and gamers and is striving to reach those outside of the normal reach of the church. Rev. Nathan Webb, the self-proclaimed Nerd Pastor of the community, encourages people to not just read another devotional this Advent - instead they should play one!

Are you building an innovative ministry? We want to know about it!

11/14/2021
Tell us you're out there! We are building a database of WNCC Innovators to help to foster community among those who are re-thinking what ministry could look like. Tell us about yourself and the ministry you're running.

Means of Grace featuring AFRESH: Recovery Ministry & Fresh Expressions

11/9/2021
In this week's episode of Means of Grace, we share a special guest episode from Afresh, a Fresh Expressions podcast from the Uwharrie District. Rev. Katie Lineberger has an important conversation with Rev. Caitlin McAlhany & Laina Davis-Harvey about recovery ministry and Fresh Expressions. You can find Afresh on Apple Podcasts or the Uwharrie District website.

Means of Grace: Digital Doorways to Church

10/26/2021
In this episode, Director of Church Development Rev. Rob Hutchinson talks all things digital church and worship with Jason Moore, Both/And Hybrid Worship consultant; Anne Bosarge, pastor of Chapel Online Church; and Rev. Nathan Webb, pastor of Checkpoint Church.

‘Church for nerds’ builds community without a building

10/20/2021
As the world develops and changes, churches are embracing those changes and adapting in order to reach a new generation. Checkpoint Church in North Carolina is one of those … sort of. While its pastor, the Rev. Nathan Webb, founded and operates the creative ministry out of Denver, North Carolina, the church has no actual physical location — by design.

A Few Words on Innovation: Rev. Ryan & Tami Canaday

10/14/2021
What does it take to reach addicts with the love of Jesus? A willingness to share your brokenness—and maybe a little coffee, too. Here's an interview we did with Rev. Ryan and Tami Canaday of FREE Spiritual Community and Wagon Coffee Roasters.  

Drowning in Details? Maybe We Can Surf Instead

10/14/2021
Task management can be discipleship.

Register for Innovators' Table Buzz Session, December 3, 2021

10/14/2021
Here's a little invitation for you: can you join us for a little while on December 3 by Zoom? A Buzz Session is a gathering where Christian innovators (typically from WNCC churches, though not always!) talk about the project they're working on, and then have give-and-take of ideas and suggestions for next steps of development from the folks on the call. You never know when someone will suggest an "aha!" idea or make a contact they didn't know they needed. It's good stuff.   Anyway, we'd love ...

Imagining a future for faith on Woodlawn Road

9/29/2021
The merger of two United Methodist congregations has inspired plans for a new home that will situate worship and ministry among retail, office and residential components. The newly named Woodlawn Community Fellowship represents a new model for what a faith community can look like at a time when mainline denominations are experiencing steady declines.

Register for Upcoming Innovator's Buzz Session

9/7/2021
Here's a little invitation for you: can you join us for a little while on October 4 by Zoom? A Buzz Session is a gathering where Christian innovators (typically from WNCC churches, though not always!) talk about the project they're working on, and then have give-and-take of ideas and suggestions for next steps of development from the folks on the call. You never know when someone will suggest an "aha!" idea or make a contact they didn't know they needed. It's good stuff.   Anyway, we'd love to...

Becoming Church: A Trail Guide for Starting Fresh Expressions

9/1/2021
An in-depth, applicable guide for individuals and congregations starting new faith communities.

Both/And Grant Updates

8/24/2021
The current BOTH/AND Grant cycle has closed. We will be offering another grant cycle at the end of the year that will have Cohorts starting again in January. Also, be on the lookout for BOTH/AND Worship Resources! To further equip churches to use BOTH/AND concepts, we will offer worship resources for Advent (Released in Oct) and Lent (End of Jan). This resource will include a worship theme, digital media, and specific ways to apply BOTH/AND concepts through a worship series that connect with BOTH In-Person AND Online participants.

Join the Fresh Expressions Clubhouse

8/13/2021
Most Wednesdays at 2 p.m. a group of Fresh Expressions practitioners join up for a conversation on the clubhouse app. We cover a variety of topics around leading fresh expressions. Email Luke Edwards at ledwards@wnccumc.org for an invite.

A Few Words on Innovation: Paul Reissman, Mystic Winds

8/3/2021
Check out this interview with Rev. Paul Reissman of the Michigan Conference about his ministry, Mystic Winds.     

A Few Words on Innovation: Sacred Ale & Blue Ridge Hope

6/15/2021
Check out this interview with Travis Smith of Salem UMC in Bostic about his innovative ministries to serve the community in the Blue Ridge District.     

A Few Words on Innovation: Still Waters Landing

6/8/2021
Check out this interview with Bryan Wilson with the Hickory Stand and Oak Forest charge about their innovative food-and-faith-based ministry to serve the local community in the mountains of Western North Carolina.    

WNCC Innovators' Information Survey

6/2/2021
Are you an innovator in our conference? Do you know someone who is? We want to hear from you!

A Few Words on Innovation: Community Yoga

6/1/2021
Check out this interview with Dawn Lynch of West Church in Mooresville, NC about their Community Yoga Program.   

Brewery Bible Study

5/17/2021
If you have ever met Rev. Randy Blanton, you will quickly learn that he has a love of craft beer and theology. When he moved to Aldersgate UMC in Shelby in 2016 he decided to combine two of his loves and host a Bible study at Newgrass Brewery in downtown Shelby. His first fall doing this he thought there may be ten to fifteen people who came out. When he showed up for the first study there were almost fifty people there. They had planned to have it inside, but with this number they instead moved...

Saint Matthews UMC's summer garden provides food in the desert

5/12/2021
Saint Matthews UMC, in the historic neighborhood of East Greensboro, has the distinction of being the oldest and largest African American church in the Western North Carolina Conference. Now, this church, which is over 150 years old, is doing something new. Their garden ministry is providing healthy nutritional options for their neighbors who live a food desert in Guilford County.

Means of Grace: Metro District - Vaccinating Our Neighbors

5/11/2021
In this week’s episode of the Means of Grace podcast, Luke catches up with Rev. David Hockett, Metro District Superintendent, and Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand, Metro District Vitality Associate, to talk about some exciting things that are happening in their area. They share about churches that are hosting community vaccination clinics, how churches are re-missioning their properties, and the multicultural/multiethnic cohort happening in their district.

Means of Grace: Green Spaces in Ministry, Part 3

5/4/2021
This edition of the Means of Grace podcast is a three-part series highlighting four ministries in Western North Carolina who are using green spaces in ministry. These ministries meet people where they are and invite them to something new – an orchard, a story walk, a worship service, exercise, a meal. Part 3 features George Eubanks, Mark Hovis, Sean Bloom, and Rev. Noel Sweezy, friends from the multi-faceted ministry, Common Ground, in Stanley. These episodes are airing on the Tuesdays surrounding Earth Day to encourage you to consider how you might connect the earth and its Creator with the lives of people in your community. It doesn't take much green space to start an innovative and inspiring outdoor ministry!

Means of Grace: Green Spaces in Ministry, Part 2

4/27/2021
This edition of the Means of Grace podcast is a three-part series highlighting four ministries in Western North Carolina who are using green spaces in ministry. These ministries meet people where they are and invite them to something new – an orchard, a story walk, a worship service, exercise, a meal. Part 2 features "The Kevins" – Kevin Miller and Kevin Bates – who are starting a new faith community in the outdoors called Way in the Wilderness: A Church Without Walls. These episodes are airing on the Tuesdays surrounding Earth Day to encourage you to consider how you might connect the earth and its Creator with the lives of people in your community. It doesn't take much green space to start an innovative and inspiring outdoor ministry!

Means of Grace: Green Spaces in Ministry, Part 1

4/20/2021
This edition of the Means of Grace podcast uses two episodes to highlight four ministries in Western North Carolina who are using green spaces in ministry. These ministries meet people where they are and invite them to something new – an orchard, a story walk, a worship service, exercise, a meal. Part 1 features Ann Self, the executive director of The Village Green in Cashiers, and Chris Harbin and Edmari Correya deCastro, who share about their aquaponics and biodiverse orchard ministry. These episodes are airing on the Tuesdays surrounding Earth Day as a way for leaders to consider how they might connect the earth and its Creator with the lives of people in their community. One of the many blessings of living in North Carolina is access to beautiful spaces and God’s earth. These podcasts encourage you to think about your own outdoor space – it doesn’t take much – and how it can be used in ministry. Be sure to check out Part 2 next week.

A Few Words about Innovation: A Few Words with Mark DeVries

3/23/2021
What's the first thing to know about innovating in your ministry context? Rev. Meg Gaston spends a few minutes with our colleague Mark DeVries of Ministry Incubators to learn some of the tools and tips he's picked up along the way.   Innovating in the WNCC? Let us know! Visit Innovation - Connect (wnccumc.org) to tell us you're out there!

Ministry Innovation Blog: Everyday Monasticism: How We're Finding Life in Benedict's Rule

3/4/2021
When I was growing up, Dairy Queen was flanked by a little market on one side and Dean’s Dugout on the other. Dean sold collector’s cards. Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, as well as baseball and football cards. He sold figurines and boards and books for playing Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. No one would describe the mix of sports paraphernalia and fantasy figurines as fashionable. Two long tables for tournaments or battles filled the middle of the store. I shopped there sometimes, but my ...

New Monastic Community: A Modern Renewal Movement

3/4/2021
I knew fairly early in my days as a United Methodist pastor that something was going wrong.  I had only been assigned to my first church for a matter of weeks when a woman came to my office upset about some matter at church.   I tried my pastoral best to listen and understand, but to no avail.  When she stood to leave, she drew close and angrily pointed her finger just a short distance from my nose and said, “and YOU…YOU even expect us to live like Jesus!”    Although that was nearly ...

Means of Grace: Online Worship is Here to Stay with Jason Moore

2/16/2021
In this week's episode Luke Edwards talks with Dan Pezet, Director of Church Development, and Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions about designing worship for both in-person and online participants. On Sunday, March 14, 2021, the WNCC Office of Church Development invites you to join Jason Moore for Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experiences For Online and In-Person Audiences.

There is a Balm in Gilead

1/15/2021
Rev. Amy Vaughan, pastor of Marvin UMC, took having Bible study in a bar to the next level when she decided to team up with Rev. Mike Collins, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and brought Hops and Hymns to downtown Lincolnton. Rev. Amy had been attending Wild Goose Festival for years and was first introduced to the concept of hops and hymns there. She remembers looking around at the festival and seeing everyone singing along, even those who had grown up in the church but left because they ...

Ministry Innovation in 2020

12/23/2020
In case you missed any of the Ministry Innovation Stories in 2020, the links to the stories are listed below by date.  “God Plays Indoor Soccer” (June 30, 2020) https://www.wnccumc.org/newsdetail/god-plays-indoor-soccer-14115172   “Still Waters Landing – Harvesting a God-sized Dream” (July 15, 2020)  https://www.wnccumc.org/newsdetail/still-waters-landing-harvesting-a-god-sized-dream-14129688   “St. Luke’s Dinner Church – Gathering Re-imagined” (August 3, 2020) https://www.wnccumc.org/newsdetai...

Body, Soul, Soil, and Sacrament

12/1/2020
Here's a terrific post on environmental stewardship as social innovation from Nate Stucky at Princeton Theological Seminary's Farminary. Innovators, give it a look!

Dinner Church at New Covenant UMC

11/2/2020
After reflecting and assessing the neighborhood and needs of the residents in Lenoir, New Covenant UMC decided to re-engage and restore the community.

Pastor's Breakfast Brings Small Community Together

10/15/2020
When we find ourselves living in remote places it can be hard to find ways to fellowship. If you find yourself in a small town with no places to gather, perhaps it is time to consider making the local diner a new favorite for community gathering.

Sacred Ale

10/1/2020
Sometimes the best way to let others know the God you serve isn’t what they may think is to get out of the walls of your church and into the spaces where those who have been hurt by the church congregate.

Pass It On Cafe

9/15/2020
What do you get when you combine Dinner Church with Messy Church? A Messy Dinner Church.

Spiritual Farmer Finds Common Ground

9/1/2020
When thinking about the future of the church, it isn’t hard to wonder what role, if any, the young people of today will take on.

Community Yoga - Karma and Community

8/17/2020
When thinking of what we can do differently to reach our communities, very few people would consider offering a program at a building that isn’t connected with the church at all as an option.

St. Luke's Dinner Church - Gathering Re-imagined

8/3/2020
Doing church well often means looking at what we are currently doing and re-imagining it to help more people.

Still Waters Landing - Harvesting a God-sized Dream

7/15/2020
One of the best things about serving God is when our ideas are turned into something that otherwise would have seemed impossible.

God Plays Indoor Soccer

6/30/2020
As churches strive to do more in their communities, it is common for them to forget that the best way to be a presence in the community is by working with the community.

Means of Grace: Innovation in Western North Carolina

5/12/2020
In this episode, Caroline and Brian check in with Rev. Louis Timberlake for an update on the conference Innovation initiative that began at Annual Conference last year.

Innovation Survey

2/3/2020
Thanks for taking a moment to expand and align the work of innovative ministry in the Western North Carolina Conference. Your feedback will help the conference to be more faithful and fruitful in its work to develop fresh forms of ministry. There are just 4 short questions. The entire survey should take 2 minutes or less.  Take the Survey. 
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