In the most recent GNJ Leadership Survey, 71% of respondents said they have participated in Breakthrough, and it has helped their congregation become more vital. Additionally, 40% say their congregation uses Breakthrough for one or more of its resources such as preaching, small groups, stewardship, and/or social media. With such a high rate of use, what kind of impact is Breakthrough having on churches’ ministry?
The most consistent answer to that question is “time.” Breakthrough worship series save clergy and congregational leaders time in worship planning, sermon preparation, and small group preparation. However, that’s not the entire benefit of Breakthrough materials. Time saved has had a ripple effect in all areas of ministry. The Rev. Jennifer Williams of the Susquehanna Annual Conference says because of time saved using Breakthrough she is “able to spend more time in mission.” Danny Clark, lay leader of Trinity UMC of Tansboro, says “[Breakthrough] has given us so much more time to do ministry in the field and with the people instead of just planning Sunday for the entire week.”
Extra time is always needed; a 24-hour day or even the standard window set aside for pastoral work never seem like enough time. The Rev. Joe Monahan, lead pastor of Medford UMC, noted how his church, which “traditionally developed all its own stewardship materials,” (including graphics, logos, customized letters, and commitment cards) found it difficult, especially during the pandemic, to “mobilize people to create all of those resources.” He says, “Having a ready-made package that could be quickly and easily tailored to our congregation was incredibly helpful.” Ohio pastor, Amy Gruber Ochier, said Breakthrough helped her manage being a ¼ time pastor while also working extra shifts at the hospital through COVID-19. Now that she is beginning a full-time appointment, she plans to use that time learning about the needs of the community where her new church is located.
Breakthrough also impacts the quality of ministry– from preaching to small groups to community outreach. The Rev. Scott Clifton, pastor of Groveville UMC and Debows UMC, says the series have, “helped bring inspiring and applicable messages to the people,” and “given me a tool and outline for sermons in times when I am not using a Breakthrough series.” Pat Smith, Certified Lay Servant and member of Titusville UMC notes how the Breakthrough small group materials have enriched her weekly Bible study. “It is eye-opening and remarkable to dig deeper into the Bible passage that was preached on the preceding Sunday,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot from the people [at the Bible study],” she says, “and it makes you feel closer [to your community].” In Pastor Gruber Ochier’s last appointment, the Summer of Love series sparked an incredible community outreach event that included worship, an ice cream social, a tie-dying activity led by college students, and the dedication of a new “blessing box” where community members can give and receive food and other needed items.
These are just a few of the bright spots of doing ministry using Breakthrough materials. If you haven’t explored GNJ’s Breakthrough resources yet, check them out now on our website, www.gnjumc.org/breakthrough and find out how Breakthrough can impact ministry in your church.