Season 8: Innovating for Love | Episode 3
“This place makes me feel human again” is a phrase often heard at Galveston Central Church from people at radically different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Being a part of the community grounds people in the truth that they belong to each other. It is not too much to say that this conversation with Rev. Michael Gienger will make you feel human again. We talk with Michael about the church’s transformation from transactional ministry to relational ministry, the systemic impact the congregation is having on the city’s approach to homelessness, the improbable friendships that are probable at Central, and the fruit of scrappiness that churches are discovering as they try ministry in new ways. What you’ll hear from Michael is not just an inspired vision for being the church; you will also experience his authentic love for Jesus and tenacity for the poor that will leave you filled with real hope for what God is doing right now in and through leaders and congregations. Glory be!
In this conversation, you’ll hear:
The journey that led Michael to Galveston Central Church and his innovative approach to ministry. (7:10)
The challenges of restarting a church that had been around for 130 years, that isn't sure about change, and doesn’t have many resources. (9:50)
Reopening Galveston Central Church with an eye for people they hadn't been in ministry with before. (12:10)
Accomplishing what God had in store for the church required partnering with other organizations and not worrying about who gets credit. (15:19)
Michael’s innovative approach to ministry, including fostering friendships, moving away from a transactional model, and partnering with other organizations. (16:28)
Flattening power dynamics with monthly listening sessions to really understand the community’s needs and following their lead to meet those needs. (17:41)
Central’s innovative clinic where the patients are in charge and the doctors and nurses and social workers and others who come are the guests. (19:40)
Starting by caring for the whole person, weaving together their spiritual lives with their “actual” lives as a way to deepen their relationship with God. (21:11)
Flipping hierarchies by moving from a model of believe first and then you can belong to belong first and the belief will come. (23:28)
How people on all demographic sides at Central have told him that being at Central makes them “feel human again.” (26:01)
The challenge of balancing their innovative ministry with expectations of the denomination and the neighborhood. (27:42)
All the innovative ways they are finding to fund ministry, relying on the ways they are truly embedded in their community and being entrepreneurial. (29:57)
The power of storytelling and how in addition to being pastor he is also chief story collector. (33:32)
Meet Our Guest
Rev. Micheal Gienger
Rev. Michael Gienger, a community organizer and changemaker, is pastor at Galveston Central Church in Galveston, Texas and an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He received his undergraduate degree in Religion, concentrating in Christian Ethics, from Baylor University, and his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Michael is a co-founder of Galveston Housing Plus, a cofounding board member of Galveston CoCare, and a Curricula and Community Consultant for Project Curate.
Galveston Central Church is a hybrid church plant/revitalization that is making space for hopeful skeptics and the spiritually homeless through a generous orthodoxy and focus on justice ministries. Since Michael joined Central in 2014, Central has transformed from a dying congregation to a thriving community. In addition to re-planting the church itself, Michael has been able to establish smaller "new faith communities" within the larger Central structure, including the Couch Surfers - a weekly surfing group. Michael helps congregations think through new ways of engaging with people outside of their community through nontraditional, creative, contextual expressions of "church."
Rev. Michael Gienger is pastor at Galveston Central Church in Galveston, Texas. He is an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He received his undergraduate degree in Religion, concentrating in Christian Ethics, from Baylor University, and his Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Michael is a co-founder of Galveston Housing Plus, a cofounding board member of Galveston CoCare, and a Curricula and Community Consultant for Project Curate.
This podcast is brought to you by the Leadership Ministry team at Wesleyan Impact Partners. Leadership Ministry connects diverse, high-capacity leaders who are courageously doing God’s work in the world, partnering in a Spirit-led movement to bring about human flourishing grounded in love, generosity, and belonging.
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