Eds: This is the first of a four-part series on new church starts in one region.
12:15 P.M. EST Feb. 23, 2010 | KANSAS CITY, Mo. (UMNS)
The Rev. Curtis Huffman is pastor of Northland United Methodist Church, a new congregation that meets in the Parkville Athletic Complex.
UMNS photos by Fred Koenig.
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The Rev. Curtis Huffman, a former Air Force chaplain, is a dreamer. The title on his Northland United Methodist Church business card is “chief dreamer.”
It is difficult enough to go into an area and start a self-sustaining worship community.
Huffman, however, has a vision of Northland United Methodist Church becoming a large-membership congregation that will start other churches that also start new congregations.
“I’m not here to start a church. I’m here to start a movement,” he says.
The adventure begins
Part of Huffman’s faith in the future of Northland comes out of necessity. He has seen the numbers. United Methodist worship attendance and membership fall a little each year across the United States, and the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference is no different. The bright spots in the numbers are new churches, which statistically show the greatest potential to grow and bring new people to Christ.
North Kansas City, the area he picked for Northland, is a logical place for a new church start. Upscale developments are under construction, and there has not been a new United Methodist church in the area for many years.
The congregation started last September with 23 people in Huffman’s living room. Earlier this month, 112 people attended a Feb. 7 service in the Parkville Athletic Complex, the church’s current home.
As a former coach, Huffman feels right at home in a gym. The main room is larger than two gymnasiums, and there is a balcony. The facility can hold about 1,800 people.
The closest United Methodist church is Platte Woods. Huffman has an office there, but never uses it. Instead, he spends his days working out of his car. The new church is a project of the Missouri Conference, and Huffman is on his own.
“This is the adventure of my life,” he says.
Huffman is not targeting people of any certain age. He is trying to reach all “pre-Christians.”
“We’re normal people, and we want our church to be a place where you can talk intelligently about your problems, and know that your best days are still ahead,” Huffman says.
He is excited about having Kenny Gamble, a well-known Christian musician in the Kansas City area, as his worship leader. He also feels blessed to have Lyndy Elmore, a public relations professional, marketing the church.
The new church, which will officially launch March 7, also recently received an anonymous donation of $100,000.
“This is an amazing blessing that will allow us to move forward and grow as a new church,” Huffman says.
Dream on, chief dreamer.
*Koenig is editor of Missouri Conference publications.
News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Tomorrow: Urban church starts new congregation in coffee shop.