Rethink Church Launch Events Set for NYC, DC

April 22, 2009

Conferences, churches urged to participate locally


An eight-foot tall red door now stands in greeting on the lawn of the United Methodist Center in West Sacramento. The door is emblematic of Rethink Church, the next evolution of The United Methodist Church's "Open hearts" welcoming campaign, which kicks off May 5 and 6 with major events in New York City and Washington, D.C. Local churches and annual conferences are encouraged to hold events to benefit their own communities in conjunction with the campaign launch.


"If we are to Rethink Church, we must rethink what it means be a servant community," says the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications.


Many United Methodist bishops from around the world, including Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, will mark the launch on May 5 when they visit day laborers at three sites in and around Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Council of Bishops meeting. The bishops will serve breakfast to the laborers, and will offer conversation and prayer.


On May 6, more than 100 United Methodists will take to the streets of New York City to perform random acts of kindness: hailing cabs for others, opening doors, and more. Those street teams also will give away iTune cards - good for one song download - that promote, a new website to which The United Methodist Church is directing persons who are unaffiliated with the denomination, via Rethink Church advertising.


Local churches and annual conferences may participate in launch events, as well. The North Texas Annual Conference, for instance, has aligned a housing renovation project with the Rethink Church launch.


Resources for conferences and churches are available at, a website that offers tools to United Methodists for the Rethink Church launch. Just added to the site's "Getting Started" area is new information on how congregations can get involved, including tips for launch-date activities.


(A link to the Rethink Church website is located under "Resources" on the green navigation bar near the top of the California-Nevada Annual Conference Home Page at


The website also offers a Rethink Church 101 guide; an FAQ; downloadable tools, such as videos and graphics; a lectionary resource with thematic ideas, Scripture verses to use in exploring those themes, and ideas for illustration; and Rethink Church training opportunities.


Also accessible through is UMCom's Igniting Ministry Team, which, in addition to coordinating advertising content and training, continues to manage the matching media grant program.


There also is a conference- and church-level strategy for staging random acts of kindness events, similar to the event scheduled for New York City. Ideas range from cleaning up graffiti to bagging groceries.


Rethink Church launch events seek to make tangible the messaging found within The United Methodist Church's Rethink Church advertising, which began on April 20. 


Rethink Church seeks to redefine the church experience beyond the church doors and invites people to become engaged in the world.


"We hope Rethink Church will cause people inside the church to reassess what it means to be people of faith," says Hollon. "This campaign is an invitation to a revolutionary conversation about what it means to be people in mission. It's more than rethinking. It's a radical return to understanding what the Gospel is for us in our day."


United Methodist Communications (UMCom), the communications agency of the denomination, oversees the Rethink Church advertising and welcoming program, and provides Rethink Church training, media, and public relations support services to United Methodist congregations and conferences worldwide.


Rethink Church products are also available at, including free Rethink Church brochures and DVDs. Red Rethink Church T-shirts are available for $10 in sizes small to 2x. Rethink Church buttons are available in quantities of 20 for $10.


"Many churches are already outward focused and inviting people to become engaged in the world as an expression of faithful discipleship as a follower of Jesus," Hollon concludes. "The church is a base of operation for expressing faith. Rethink Church extends an invitation for all of us to consider moving out of the doors and into the world and being a part of the co-creation with God - who is transforming the world."