HPUMC Centennial Stories

Stories from our previous 100 years as we look to the future!

The Seven Core Values of HPUMC: Starting New Churches

The purpose of starting new churches is not to reach members of existing churches; the purpose of starting new churches is to reach the people who don’t have a church home. In other words, we’re not interested in sheep stealing.

“When Is the Last Time You Baptized a Whole Family?”

In February 2009 I was sitting in a retreat center in Fayetteville, AR, trying to discern if I wanted to be a pastor for a new church start. Paul Rasmussen had floated the Munger Place idea to me a few times—we’d met through a mutual acquaintance—and I wasn’t sure if it were something I wanted to do or not. I was in seminary at the time and had never held a pastoral position before.  So, I drove up to Fayetteville from Dallas to spend two weeks at an event the Methodist church puts on to help people like me discern God’s call on their lives.

One of the presenters was a pastor who had started a new church near San Antonio, and, as she was describing the folks in her congregation, I’ll never forget the question she asked the group of pastors (I was the rare seminarian): “When is the last time you baptized a whole family?”

I remember thinking: “That’s what I want to do. I want to go after the people who don’t know the Lord and have never experienced the power of the gospel.”

No Sheep Rustling Here

The purpose of starting new churches is not to reach members of existing churches; the purpose of starting new churches is to reach the people who don’t have a church home. In other words, we’re not interested in sheep stealing.

Now, you can’t have a vibrant congregation without generous, mature disciples to serve, give, and lead. I am deeply grateful for the folks from our Mockingbird campus who now attend at Munger, and grateful for the mature Christians that have come to Munger from other places and are now blessing us with their commitment. But, it’s important that we not forget our purpose: to reach new people for Christ.

“Come and See”

Many unchurched and non-Christian folks are deeply skeptical about the church and many of them think they already know the truth:

  • Jesus was just a moral teacher;
  • the scriptures are inherently unreliable;
  • the ancient doctrines of the faith were just power grabs by a Constantinian council;
  • the only true source of wisdom is science (which has clearly disproved the claims of faith);
  • and devout Christians are all judgmental hypocrites who want to tell other people how to live their lives.

If you have ever spent time with someone outside the church, you have probably encountered at least one of these objections to faith. (And, sadly, because the Western church has done such a poor job of forming our own people in the faith, you’ve probably encountered some of those objections from folks within the church as well.)

To all those objections, we offer three simple words: “Come and see.”

“Come and see” is the gracious invitation that Philip offers the skeptic Nathanael in John 1. It’s non-threatening, doesn’t depend on being smarter than the skeptic—I’ve found that lots of skeptics are much smarter than me—and honors both the other person’s objections and the claims of Christ.

At Munger (and in the future churches that Highland Park will be starting) we approach our community with a “come and see” spirit. We can do so with confidence and humility, because we know that we have a “come and see” God. It’s not up to us to convert or convince—it’s just up to us to carry the message of Christ into the world.

And that message is about a God who reaches out to us: at Sinai, in the Bethlehem manger, eating with tax collectors and sinners, stretched out and suffering on the Cross, in the twilight of Easter morning, and in the power of Pentecost. Our God is a “come and see” God, which is why we can be confident in our message.

A Guarantee

Jesus says:

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8.]

When we invite the skeptical to “come and see” we are just offering them the guarantee that Jesus made on the Sermon on the Mount: when you seek the Truth with honesty and openness, you’ll find it.

Or, to be more precise, he’ll find you.

HPUMC's Core Values

For nearly a decade Highland Park United Methodist Church has been in the business of starting new churches.

Since 1939 the church has helped to start over 30 new church plants across north Texas and beyond, the most out of any church in the North Texas Conference.

The latest church revitalization project for HPUMC took place in East Dallas, at what was once one of the largest and most influential churches in Dallas. The Sanctuary for Munger Place Methodist was built in 1925, 12 years after the church was originally founded in 1913.

In 2009, Munger Place, now struggling to stay afloat allowed the United Methodist Church, along with Highland Park United Methodist to step in and help bring them back to life. In 2010 HPUMC officially assumed responsibility for Munger Place and began raising money to renovate the building and plant a new congregation.

Over the past four years, Munger Place has quickly become one of the fastest growing church plants in the country. The beautiful neighborhood church has succeeded in not only honoring and preserving the legacy of the original Munger Place Church, it has also helped to transform the surrounding area in East Dallas.

Author: Rev. Andrew Forrest
Category: Starting New Churches, Church History
Decade: 2000's


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