Oct 26, 2023 | John W. Coleman

Breakthrough, the increasingly popular worship resource, is breaking through our over-reliance on ordinary worship themes and patterns, as many churches now enjoy its extraordinary approaches to preaching, teaching, learning and celebrating our faith. The easy-to-use, time-saving worship resources include liturgies, sermon ideas, small-group study and activity guides, plus high-quality promotional graphics, videos and templates.

Breakthrough is also breaking through Greater New Jersey’s conference borders. Eastern PA churches are using Breakthrough’s resources; and Eastern PA writers are participating in creating resources for 2024. Meanwhile, pastors and churches beyond our region are letting Breakthrough coordinator Emily Wilton know how much they are using and appreciating the various series as well. (See some testimonies below.)

The current fall series, Everybody Tell Somebody confirms for all that “our faith grows as we share it, and the Bible teaches us how to do that.” The series acknowledges that faith-sharing can seem difficult and feel intrusive at first. But it can also feel gratifying and exciting when we embrace Christ’s Great Commission—especially his promise to always be with us. We soon learn that a faith worth having is a faith worth sharing. Learn more. Watch and use the video.

Next up is Prepare, a worship series perfect for Advent and Christmas, useful from December 1 through Christmas. As we make holiday plans and preparations for Christmas, this series bids us to ask, “Who are we really preparing for?” Use these resources to help your congregation hear God’s call to prepare for the one who came and will come again.

The weekly themes, inspired by the Gospels, are: “Keep Awake!” “Get Ready!” “Testify!” “Be Courageous!” “Go!” And finally, “Worship and Bless.”  Hear these imperatives as an invitation to strip away all the fuss and ready your heart and life for the change that is coming when Jesus gets here.

Breakthrough’s non-seasonal series offer more

While Breakthrough’s series are typically created and used for Christian and regular calendar seasons—Lent, Easter, Advent, Summer, Fall and so on—we have broken through that pattern, too, by adding two series that focus on special discipleship and mission opportunities for our churches.

The Generous Stewardship & Generosity Campaign Series is ideal anytime, for any church that’s planning to launch a stewardship campaign, as many do in the fall. It teaches us to focus less on having the “good life” externally, which can leave one unsatisfied, and focus more on living Christ’s good news internally, which teaches us to seek first the Kingdom of God to find true contentment, freedom and joy in abundance. And Jesus shows us the way there, which is through living a generous life. Use this series to help your church members learn lessons that will last them a lifetime.

The timely For Tanzania series can engage churches in worship and small-group studies to enhance their participation in GNJ’s ambitious fundraising campaign to support our United Methodist mission partners in Tanzania. The “For Tanzania 2024” campaign, set to run until December 31, 2023, seeks to raise $100,000, which will aid in constructing a new, much-needed church in the capital city of Dar es Salaam (for $60,000) and also provide the gift of a year’s worth of living wages to all Tanzanian pastors (for $40,000). Our hard-working but low-paid clergy siblings there are building a United Methodist presence that is still new but growing fast.

These creative, comprehensive, well-constructed and adaptable Breakthrough worship series can bless any congregation’s worship experience and unburden any pastor’s busy schedule. That’s why they are so popular among churches near and far. They also offer mission and community outreach ideas to fit many different contexts.

‘An amazing resource for all of our churches’

“Breakthrough is such an amazing resource for all of our churches; the small-group resources take minimal prep time, and can easily be led by laity,” wrote the Rev. Schuyler Berdan, pastor of Calvary UMC in Dumont, in his Breakthrough testimony. “I’m so grateful to Emily and the entire team for taking on this tremendous task of giving us top-of-the-line resources that help us relate to our people, and that have brought us closer to God than ever!”

For the Rev. Mia Crosthwaite, pastor of Kuna UMC near Boise, Idaho, it felt “God-inspired” when she used the very popular Questions to God series for Lent. “People who hadn’t been coming to church started attending every week because they found the questions so relevant. Online viewers and sermon podcast downloads increased dramatically. Holy week attendance, which is usually about 30 percent of regular worship attendance, increased to above 50 percent.”

Pastor Crosthwaite attributes this increase to the real-world questions that the series focused on. One week, when she had a medical emergency and a last-minute guest preacher deviated from the series, church members reached out to ask when they would be addressing that week’s question. “We don’t skip questions!” they said.

Crosthwaite uses Breakthrough’s series regularly. She says they increase engagement by giving her congregation something to look forward to. She has seen a 17 percent increase in average worship attendance since last year and attributes that, in part, to how Breakthrough is working for her church.

Wilton is receiving more glowing testimonies about the use of Breakthrough from church leaders in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky and elsewhere. “Earlier this year, I even heard from a church in Singapore who wanted to use it!” she reported. “As coordinator, I am excited to see the growing usage of our worship series resources across the United States and the world.

“Since our new website launched in April 2023,” she adds, “our resources have become more accessible and easily searchable for those outside of EPA&GNJ.” The new Breakthrough website is receiving about 1,500 clicks per series, five times the number of clicks received before its launch; and it’s getting more than 2,000 unique visitors per month.

“Churches can use or change as much or as little of a series as they want, or simply use it as inspiration,” Wilton explained. “Users have also expressed their appreciation for the Wesleyan perspective from which sermon outlines are written, unlike many other popular sermon resources.”

Breakthrough is also gaining traction and helping more churches break through the ordinary because “it is more than a resource,” she said, “it is a community. Our Facebook groups have become a place for sharing ideas, collaborating and asking questions, both about Breakthrough and about doing ministry more generally.”

Visit the new Breakthrough website