Bob Farr and Jim Ozier had been getting a lot of questions from their colleagues around the country. Many Conferences were dealing with all of the aspects of closing churches that had faded, while trying to start new, vital churches, and trying to put those two things together in a way that is both effective and efficient. As the people who relate to this process for the Missouri and North Texas Conferences, Farr and Ozier had seen examples of this working very well, and sometimes not working at all, when the closing church becomes a second campus of a vital church. It was a topic that needed discussion.
“We put together the New Wine Skins conference to convene the beginning of a national conversation around this idea,” Farr said.
A national conversation it was, with people showing up from every jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. About half of the attendees were district superintendents, in some cases nearly the entire appointive cabinet of a Conference was present.
The location of the Conference in St. Louis supported the underlying theme of the meeting.
“The Clayton campus of The Gathering was a great place to have it, because they have the facilities to host it, and it’s an example of one church becoming the second campus of another that has gone very well,” Farr said.
The church in entering an era when most large churches will be multi-campus church, Farr believes.
“Multi-campus churches will be the primary way we start new churches, and we restart fading congregations,” Farr said.