GNJ Resource “Breakthrough Worship Series” Goes Global 

April 19, 2022 | | Deepen Faith, GNJ News, The Relay, Laity Leadership

Breakthrough Worship Series are created by Greater New Jersey (GNJ) staff and leaders for GNJ churches. When you’ve got a good thing going, why keep it to yourself? All over the United States and even into Canada, churches of different sizes and denominations are discovering how the GNJ resources, replete with sermon outlines, small groups, and worship resources, can transform their worship and ministries.  

When the resource of Breakthrough Series was originally launched, the idea was to provide consistent worship and small group experiences across our GNJ conference, while also freeing up time for clergy and congregational leaders to do more hands-on ministry. Existing as a large time-saver, Breakthrough was expected to be most useful to smaller churches with part-time pastors in GNJ.  

Little did we know that churches across the country would be picking it up. In the South, Beulah UMC in Valley, AL, pastored by Rev. Katrina Paxson. In the Mid-West, Rev. Trevor Vaughn’s two United Methodist churches outside of Des Moines, IA. In the Pacific Northwest, Trinity UMC in Wenatchee, WA, pastored by Rev. Julie Price. Breakthrough is making its way across our United Methodist connection, largely by word of mouth and the magic of Facebook support groups for clergy! 

Yet, it is not only United Methodists who deeply appreciate the sharing of resources. Breakthrough is currently being used across several denominations, including churches that belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the United Church of Canada.  

The foundation of the series is strong enough that, as noted by Rev. Debora Rolls of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario, “They help to spark creativity in us and then we make it our own.” This Lent, Rev. Rolls’ church is working together to create a mosaic from broken pottery. The idea was inspired by the Breakthrough 2022 Lent series Drink from the Fountain of Grace 

When asked about using a United Methodist resource in a Lutheran church, Rev. Paul Block of New Song Church, NV says that while occasionally he needs to make tweaks for his context, the series provide a good starting point and help tremendously with planning. The Rev. Paul Hutchison of Eglinton St. George United Church in Toronto, Ontario likes Breakthrough because, he states, “most ‘packaged’ worship bundles do not honor inclusivity and diversity of individuals and images of God. Rather than invest in something with a poorly laid foundation, I often throw it away. Breakthrough resources speak well of the world and life of faith for me.” Both Rev. Block and Rev. Hutchison pastor medium to large multi-staff churches, demonstrating Breakthrough’s versatility across churches of different sizes.    

When asked about why they like Breakthrough, one of the most common responses from pastors across various places and denominations was the small group resources. Rev. Katryn Heintz Dougherty, pastor of the Lutheran Church of Guam, says, “We really love the small group lessons and going deeper into the series with them. It definitely helps save time with the materials ready for you.” Likewise, Rev. Block noted using the small groups alongside the worship series makes the service more meaningful. Rev. Rolls appreciates how the small groups can be easily led by laypeople– an important design feature in all Breakthrough series.  

With the changing demographics of churches all over North America, it seems that churches of all sizes and denominations are hungry for ways to share new, creative, and high-quality materials with one another. As Rev. Block says, “No church would have the resources to develop something like this on their own. It is incredibly helpful.” We are blessed that Breakthrough is serving that need for many.   

Breakthrough Worship Series is available on the GNJ website at https://www.gnjumc.org/breakthrough/ with updates throughout each year.