Translate Page

Curating the community

Change agent.



Bridgewater (N.J.) United Methodist Church and its strong mission ministry greatly influenced Baughman, who grew up in Manville, N.J. He sought to respond to how God was shaping him and to what the church had contributed to his spiritual growth.

So it was that after graduation from Duke University, Baughman answered God's call to ministry. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary for his Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees.  

Now the United Methodist elder serves in an unconventional niche ministry in Dallas.  Innovation and pure guts undergird his "coffeehouse church," planted primarily to reach young people wary of church. Union is considered a research and development arm of the church. 

"I sometimes refer to it as 'change your pants ministry,'" he explains. "I don't know whether to pee myself with excitement because we get to try new things, forge a new path and not be constrained by 'the way things have always been done' or poop my pants in fear because there's no road or safety map and a lot of uncertainty at every turn."

Flexibility and freedom make his ministry successful as does his embracing the challenges that come from doing a "new" thing.

"We didn't start Union in order to bring God to our neighborhood or Jesus into the lives of our customers," he says. "We assume that God is already at work in their lives. Our job is to see what God is doing in their lives and try to become a part of that activity."

The pastor spends significant time connecting with the community, creating partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits and student organizations.

"In two years of working at Union," Baughman says, "I've never had a moment where I've thought, 'Well, that was a waste of time.' It's great to be a part of something that so clearly matters to our community and the broader church."

His greatest joy in starting a coffeehouse church?

"Seeing God-inspired dreams come true. Through it all," he says, "I see God at work on a daily basis. I've got one of the best seats in the kingdom."

Celinda J. Hughes, freelance writer, Nashville, Tenn.

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

©2023 United Methodist Communications. All Rights Reserved