Ministry Offers New Model to Service Churches, Nurture Youth

November 8, 2016 | | GNJ News

Young pastors and small churches have much in common.  They both are important to the life and future of our church and can flourish when coupled together for ministry.

Mosaic Ministry strives to do just that.  The ministry pairs together two seminary students with complementing skill sets to each work 20 hours a week pastoring their appointed churches. Bright, young communicators, administrators, vision casters and leaders from seminary are sought after and recruited to expand their theological education with practical management practice.  The churches benefit with innovative leaders who can challenge congregations in new ways.

Pastor Laura Steele of East Millstone UMC and Mt. Zion UMC says the program has been an “unbelievable” experience thus far.

“God is truly at work through the students and leaders of this program,” said Steele. “Not only do we have an opportunity to learn practical and valuable components to pastoral ministry, we automatically have an amazing cohort of pastoral friends and colleagues built into the Mosaic connection.”

Steele’s first Sunday serving was full of both excitement and anxiety. She was overwhelmed with happiness and cried tears of joy on her drive home from her second service.

“I knew that this was God’s plan for me and that serving was what I was meant to do,” she declared. “I couldn’t feel more blessed to be a part of this growing ministry, and I look forward to discovering what the future brings through Mosaic.”

In 2013, three congregations were selected to pilot a Small Church Initiative, which later became known as Mosaic Ministries. In 2015, the ministry expanded to four campuses, with a leadership staff of three campus pastors and two student interns. A shift in vision and strategy for Mosaic Ministries has resulted in the expansion of thirteen churches and fifteen pastors working in partnerships of mutuality and trust in sharing resources, leadership, and a vision for ministry that’s vital, relevant, and mission driven.

“Young pastors feel called to ministry but might not know how to balance a budget, build a church website or maintain a blog,” said Trey Wince, Director of New Disciples who heads up the ministry. “This creates space to free up these students to pastor by learning organizational leadership, how to write and manage calendars, databases, technology, navigate difficult meetings, track attendance and just the overall business end of running a church.”

Pastor Zach Wooten, who’s in his second year serving the First UMC of Mount Holly, is a senior M. Div. student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Hungry to serve the church while pursuing theological education, he got the opportunity through Mosaic Ministries to link hands-on learning with theological reflection.

“Serving as a co-pastor has given me amazing experiences in pastoral leadership,” said Wooten, who expressed his gratitude of Wince’s mentorship. “Trey challenges us to be innovative leaders who care not only about the rich tradition of Methodism, but also the rich resources already given by God to the congregants we serve.”

Empowering lay leadership and building on the gifts of those in his church has been one of Wooten’s focal points. In his brief time as a co-pastor, the church’s adult Bible study, small groups, overall attendance, and youth ministries have all experienced growth.

“Most importantly, I have seen God moving powerfully in the lives of United Methodists of all ages,” said Wooten. “Whether that be in our seventeen-year-old who led his own confirmation service to the members in their 80’s and 90’s who have a passion for witnessing in our neck of the woods, there is no denying the Holy Spirit in this community of disciples.”

Becky Joslin attends First UMC of Mount Holly and has praised the ingenuity of both Wooten and co-pastor Donald Kirschner.

“These pastors seemed to have brought the place back to life,” Joslin said. “Their ambition and creativity is exhilarating. Even our older folks appreciate the new life that these two breathe into the church. I think the word is getting out that we are a fun place to be. We are trying all sorts of new things to attract potential worshipers.”

The goal is to respond to the pulse of the surrounding communities with impactful, Christ-centered ministry, programs and outreach opportunities that directly address the needs of the communities they serve.

“Small churches who may have felt neglected are getting special attention from people with a lot of energy that genuinely want to lead great ministry,” said Wince.

For Wooten, Steele and the thirteen other Mosaic pastors, the responsibility of shepherding their congregations, envisioning ministry and leading the church staff and volunteers falls solely to them. Mosaic pastors build community relations and lead their church in engaging with their community through mission and meeting identified needs while increasing their church’s presence and relevancy. The pastors lead their churches in making disciples through weekly worship and engaging in preaching opportunities throughout the year. Participants develop and provide a plan for leadership of small group ministries and Bible studies and lead their church in creating and or strengthening ministries to families. They participate in regularly scheduled church council and other ministry team meetings according to their discerned needs and level of involvement while leading their churches in growing stewardship.

A major component of Mosaic Ministries is team building and mentorship. Pastors participate in regular team meetings about pastoral leadership and vision-casting as well as reflection with conference staff and leadership. With three major retreats a year including a preaching boot camp and a church finance gathering, the Mosaic team benefits from sharing personal experiences and stories; doing life together and learning from one another.

To be a part of Mosaic Ministries, a person must be between 22 and 30 years old, have a heart to serve God and a desire to explore how they can serve God and be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. The ministry seeks men and women who are emotionally, cognately, and ideologically flexible with a willingness to pursue unconventional and innovative ideas. Patience, perseverance, a heart of service, mission-focused passion, and an open, self-starting spirit are desired traits.