New Mission, New Life: First United Methodist Church Brookshire
By: Sherri Gragg
You are a pastor newly assigned to a wonderful historical church, but once you get on the ground you realize that along with a beautiful legacy of faith and a loving congregation, your new church also has some daunting challenges. Attendance is down. It is more difficult by the day to attract young families to worship. Your congregation no longer reflects the neighborhood surrounding it.
To top it off, your new church’s community, your mission field, is in desperate need. Many families are struggling to make ends meet. They are worried about their children’s futures. There are a lot of single mothers who day after day are confronted with the hard truth that there just isn’t enough to go around for their children. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough stability. Not enough support. The local school district is a “teacher training school,” and that means teacher turnover is high and kids are struggling academically. Your church sees the needs and wants to minister to these families, but the congregation’s own limited resources have left you with few options for service.
Now imagine that in one swift stroke of God’s provision and grace, money is no longer an issue.
How would that change…everything?
Rev. Phil Grose, FUMC Brookshire, doesn’t have to imagine this scenario. This story, the story of a church on the cusp of its next chapter in ministry, a neighborhood in need, and a group of local businessmen committed to empower non-profit organizations to change the lives of children, is his church’s story.
New Ministry, New Life
As FUMC Brookshire began the new year, they did so with a commitment to launch a new season in the life of their church. Over the course of the preceding months, the congregation realized it was time to do things differently. Growth was sluggish. The membership was aging too. If FUMC Brookshire wanted to remain a source of hope and faith in their community, something needed to change.
Grose felt The Vibrant Church Initiative was the answer. His congregation agreed, and FUMC Brookshire began the process. Around the same time, a church member approached Grose with an unusual opportunity. During the course of a business transaction, a client happened to mention that he had a friend who was part of a charitable foundation. The foundation, which prefers to remain anonymous, was in search of organizations to support who were committed to strengthening the community.
Would Brookshire be interested?
A Dream of Ministry
A few phone calls later, Grose had the opportunity to sit down with the foundation representative. “I explained some of our needs, Grose said. “I told him that our church wants to minister but that we just don’t have the resources.” The representative then explained that the foundation’s primary focus was to help children in need.
Grose told him that one of the Texas Annual Conference’s primary initiatives is “We Love All God’s Children.” The foundation spokesperson asked just how Brookshire would do live out that mission if they had the resources they needed.
Grose returned to his congregation to find out.
“What if you had a magic wand, and money was no longer an object,” he asked. “How would you minister to this community?”
As the church dreamed of ministry together, they realized God was pulling their hearts toward needy children who didn’t look much like them. God was moving in FUMC Brookshire to be His hands and feet, to love all of His children.
Shoot the Moon
The next time Grose met with the foundation representative, he came armed with a Power Point presentation detailing three scenarios that would allow Brookshire to begin an afterschool ministry to needy children. The least expensive option would entail renovating Brookshire’s existing space. The second option moved off-site to a rented space. The third option was the bold, seemingly impossible proposal of building a new facility on the campus to house the ministry. “It was the shoot the moon option,” Grose said, “but I felt God wanted me to include it.”
The charitable foundation agreed. When they met with Grose to explain their choice, they also gave him the stunning news that they were granting Brookshire a $400,000 grant to do the work.
When the meeting was over, Grose returned to his car and wept. God had done the unbelievable. Not only would the gift change the lives of needy families in his community, it would inevitably change the course of his church’s future as they embarked on a journey of mercy, inclusion, and diversity in their ministry to children and families in their neighborhood.
Brookshire has begun securing permits to build their new multipurpose facility. They hope to begin serving children in the fall of 2018 by providing them a safe and loving environment to learn and play after school. As the church cultivates their new mission field, they will continue to do the good work of VCI as well.
The future is brighter than they ever could have imagined.