Morris hoping for new partners in the 2015 Giving Tuesday campaign
By Connie Faber
Two USMB church plants—Lighthouse Church in Denver, Colo. (photo right), and South Mountain Community Church (SMCC) Lehi Campus in Lehi, Utah (photo below)—launched Oct. 25 thanks in part to funds donated to Mission USA last year on Giving Tuesday. This year, the USMB church planting ministry hopes to raise $60,000 on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving founded in 2012 that is fueled by social media and collaboration.
Mission USA’s commitment to a new church plant is typically $15,000 per year for the first three years, so the funds raised last year on Giving Tuesday gave Mission USA a head start in planting the five new USMB churches that were born in 2015: Lighthouse Church and SMCC Lehi Campus as well as Neighborhood Church, Fresno, Calif.; Assemblies of Trinity International, Alexandria, Va.; and Pacific Keep Church, Spokane, Wash.
“We need significant financial resources to be able to plant churches,” says Don Morris, Mission USA director and USMB interim executive director. “As people all across the U.S. give (on Giving Tuesday) all of these dollars go directly to plant new churches, reaching more people with the good news,” says Morris.
Individuals who want to support U.S. Mennonite Brethren church planting can make their Giving Tuesday contribution Dec. 1 at www.usmb.org/givingtuesday. They can follow #Together on Facebook and Twitter during the day for updates and watch the progress toward meeting the $60,000 goal.
“We had people give from $5 to $5,000 last year,” says Morris. “Every donation is important.”
More than 70 individuals participated in the 2014 Giving Tuesday campaign.
“We’re praying for more partners this year,” says Morris. “Not so we can get a bunch of money for Mission USA, but so we can have the funds we need to plant more churches and help more people find Jesus.”
The hashtag #Together was chosen to emphasize that USMB church planting involves partnerships—between individuals, churches, districts and USMB—all working toward the goal of planting more churches.
Morris says that in 2014 congregations as well as individuals made Giving Tuesday donations.
"Although our Giving Tuesday #together campaign is largely built on the concept of many individuals going to the USMB website to make their personal donations, last year we also had churches come together to collectively give a church-wide donation, one that was over and above any other conference giving they had made,” says Morris. “Both kinds of donations are huge for us—those of partnering individuals who have a passion for helping us plant new churches and our local MB churches that provide a church-wide gift.”
Supporting USMB church plants brings the good news to new neighborhoods and expands the kingdom of God, says Morris.
“Twenty or 30 years ago, Mennonite Brethren planted churches to provide a place of worship for Mennonite Brethren that didn’t have a church near them,” says Morris. “Now we plant churches to be a part of Jesus’ building of his church. There are millions of lost and hurting people in America. We’re simply going to the places where God is calling us to go to reach as many people as possible, to introduce them to Jesus.”
Two of the places where God called USMB church planters to serve in 2015 are the communities in which the two USMB church plants were launched on the same October Sunday. Utah County, home to SMCC Lehi Campus, is a place where fewer than 1 percent of the county’s 560,974 people are evangelical in affiliation while Lighthouse Church is located in Denver where only about 7 percent of the population attends church on Sunday.
Morris says the two church plant launches held Oct. 25 were successful. Lighthouse Church had 168 attendees while SMCC Lehi had 269. Both had numerous new attendees and both had common elements of inspiring worship, great connections with people at the door and after worship, tremendous messages from Josh Shaw and Eric Nelson respectively, and overall very positive atmospheres, according to Morris.
“Both churches see Sunday morning worship gatherings as just one aspect of ministry, helping to provide a foundation for other ministries like fellowship groups, missional activities and programs in the community and encouraging intentional discipleship,” says Morris.
The two church plants face challenges unique to their worship settings, says Morris.
“Lighthouse Church has the job of setting up and tearing down every Sunday as they meet in a high school auditorium,” says Morris. “The setting is great, but it’s a huge commitment of work by the core team every Sunday. Lehi has the advantage of having a lot of space that was created out of a warehouse, but they have monthly payments that have to be met in order to have that space. They have plenty of room for kid’s ministries and for worship, at least at this point.”
Morris invites those who want to make an “eternal donation” to support Mission USA on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. Matching donations will double at least the first $10,000 given on Dec. 1, says Morris.
“Giving Tuesday is a fun day as we partner #together to raise funds for church planting,” says Morris. “It’s fun to go to our website during the day to watch our scrolling tab as the amount of donations grow. The amount is updated every hour.”
Photos provided by Mission USA.
Thumbnail: Members of the worship team at Lighthouse Church in Denver, Colo., are taking down the stage following Launch Sunday in October. The church plant meets in a high school gym, which requires the core team to commitment to weekly setting up and taking down their church setting.
Story photo 1: Worship at Lighthouse Church on Launch Sunday.
Story photo 2: SMCC Lehi meets in a renovated warehouse and is offering a full list of ministries for children and adults on Sunday and during the week thanks to being a satelite campus of South Mountain Community Church of nearby Salt Lake City.