Three-in-One Session Offers Triple the Insight
The Texas Annual Conference hosted their first ever TAC Talks presentation, in the style of popular TED Talks videos.
“Today, we are turning to people within our own Texas Annual Conference, because part of the learning is sharing of best practices and learning from each other,” announced Bishop Jones at the beginning of the session.
The first to speak was Cassandra Nunez, Galena Park United Methodist Church. Cassandra and her husband Cesar began a new ministry as part of the Hispanic Leadership Apprenticeship Program in the Texas Annual Conference.
When the church resolved to close their doors after 98 years, church planting began under the leadership of District Superintendent Andy Noel and Director of Missional Excellence Diane McGehee. The goal was to begin a new church that was more reflective of the city’s current population, and on Pentecost Sunday, 2016, the original congregation closed their doors, and passed the mantle to Cassandra and Cesar.
The two began learning more about the community, researching the neighborhood online, and more importantly visiting local businesses and making friends with the community. Trust, according to Cassandra, was a huge factor in creating relationships before they even began talking about faith. Their first breakthrough, Cassandra said, is when a friend recommended their church, calling it “the church that likes to help people”.
Casandra and Cesar began going by the church on a regular basis to pray, which is where they met some of the neighborhood children. According to Cassandra, “They were timid at first, but the children began to trust the couple after they played soccer together.” One year later, the church is now hosting bible studies, an after school program, and other community outreach programs.
On July 1st, Cassandra and Cesar will be appointed as full time local pastors at Galena Park United Methodist Church. They hope to continue their mission to be “not just a church in the community, but the community’s church.” See TAC Talk Video: Casandra Nuñez
We don't want to be church in the community, we want to be the community's church,-. Cassie Nunez. #txac17— christy comma me (@The_Christy) May 30, 2017
The second TAC Talks speaker was Pamela Fulbright-Scheyer, director of Crossroads at Park Place, Inc., a homeless ministry in Houston. Pamela began her career as a lawyer, but found herself being asked to do more.
“A lot of people think that because I am an attorney, that qualifies me to do a lot of things, so when God called me to work outside of my comfort zone, I didn’t immediately say yes,” said Fulbright-Scheyer.
But saying “yes” became an important part of her journey, beginning when her pastor asked her to start a prayer ministry. As someone who was terrified to pray out loud, Fulbright-Scheyer says she learned to trust God like Moses and Gideon. “God has a plan for us, and sometimes that plan may surprise you,” she shared.
Later, when she heard God’s call to go into ministry full time, she thought He would provide her with a position. Instead, she just heard from God that she should quit her current job with no employment opportunities in sight.
After some reluctance, she trusted God and did quit her job. Following that path she has become passionate about her work at Crossroads and other organizations. “My motto now is to ‘Turn Your Eyes’ to Jesus, because nothing is impossible when you turn your eyes to him,” ended Fulbright-Scheyer. See TAC Talk Video: Pam Fulbright-Scheyer
Paula Arnold introduced the last speaker, Rev. David Dorn of Marvin UMC, calling him a “social media guru”.
Dorn hooked even social media skeptics from the beginning of his talk by arguing, “The world is our parish, and the world is increasingly spending more and more time on social media, so we should have a presence there as well.”
As an experiment, he asked the crowd to open up the Facebook app on their phones and post a location based “check-in”. This posts a status to your Facebook friends, and lets them know that you are having a good time where you are. The first time they experimented with this technique at Marvin UMC on a Sunday morning, David said they reached over 10,000 people with what he called “free advertising”.
He also stressed the importance of creating content that is brief and easily consumable during the daily lives of social media users, in addition to having a sense of humor. As far as techniques, he also suggests the use of creating Facebook Ads by means of “boosting posts”. This allows churches to reach audiences in their neighborhoods who may be interested in visiting a church.
My two favorite things combined: Wesleyan theology and social marketing #TXAC17— Shelby Olive (@photoshelby) May 30, 2017
“There comes a point in everyone’s life when they start looking for more. They start looking for something deeper and more meaningful, and when that time comes, they are going to know where their friends and family are finding it, and it’s in my church. Hopefully it is in your church as well,” said David.
See TAC Talk Video: David Dorn