Imagine the sounds of kids swinging on a giant new playground set, sliding down a spiral slide, vacation Bible school outdoors, and families enjoying community with each other. Imagine giving and interacting with folks you normally wouldn’t meet. These are just some of the recent scenes that have been supported with the help of Breakthrough Ministry grants in the Dakotas Conference.
Breakthrough Ministry Grants are intended to be seed money to launch new ministries or expand existing ministries to reach and impact new people as a response to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Dakotas United Methodists. The Dakotas Methodist Foundation has been awarding Breakthrough Ministry grants to churches throughout our Conference and watching programs and congregations flourish.
One of the most recent grant recipients is the small, but innovative Broadland, South Dakota UMC. For a while this small community church in east-central South Dakota has been wondering how they could re-invigorate their church and reach out to their neighbors.
During the pandemic, the Broadland congregation moved their worship services to zoom, and then outdoors for a time, using an elevated platform and an FM transmitter for their pastor, Rev. Tim Vorlage, to bring worship to folks in their cars.
As the church’s admin board had a brainstorming session with input from long-term and new members alike, they realized they had plenty of green outdoor space, but most passersby could only see an aging building. They saw a need to be more visible.
Broadland member Louise Bauman said, “We thought, ‘What could we do? How could we attract new families to join us?’ That’s when the idea of a castle for children was born.”
The Connect with Christ at the Castle concept was to install a large “Monster Castle” playset as a centerpiece for outdoor church gatherings that would be inviting for families with small children.
The idea was met with some resistance, as is common in groups facing uncertain economic times, so it was shelved for a while, until the board learned about Breakthrough Ministry grants. With the prospect of grant assistance and some generous gifts from within the congregation, the project became more feasible.
The project became a priority, and a Breakthrough Ministry grant took a big bite out of the price tag. A Monster Castle playset was purchased and after some delay, was installed by mid-November next to the church in Broadland. It has already become a focal point for new people, and is being enjoyed by kids from all around. The local 4-H Club meets at the church, and has also donated two picnic tables.
Volunteers from the church also made extensive renovations to the Sunday School rooms, which had not been altered in over 40 years. With these new additions, some new faces have started to appear at church events, and one new family has already become active in worship as well.
“The Broadland church is remaining consistently focused on kids being reached," said Loiuse Bauman. “Through the Sunday School room renovations, we are hoping not only for external growth from new worshippers, but also internal growth for our long-term members. This project has even inspired some families to make substantial gifts.”
The Broadland UMC is looking forward to inviting even more families and children as the weather gets warmer. They have annual events, such as Easter, VBS, Halloween, and Christmas, that draw 30-40 children and parents. They are focusing on being inclusive and welcoming, sharing the love of Jesus with neighbors near and far.
If you can imagine a way to grow your church’s ministry, consider applying for a Breakthrough Ministry grant to help your vision become a reality. The next deadline to apply for these quartely-awarded grants is January 31, 2022. You can find more information and an application here.