In an age when many thriving churches have abandoned organs, pews, and neckties, Church of the Resurrection has held fast to traditional hymns and acolytes—and built the nation's fastest- growing United Methodist congregation. But one thing that is not traditional at this church is its fundraising program. The urgent need for expansion has led this church into uncharted territory.

At Resurrection's inception in 1990 in this suburb of Kansas City, Kansas, Sunday meetings were held at a local funeral home's chapel. The church now boasts nearly 6,000 members, many of them successful individuals in Leawood, a prosperous suburb. As a 25-year-old budding preacher in 1990, Pastor Adam Hamilton planted a vision in the minds of a few people. "We called ourselves Church of the Resurrection, really tongue-in-cheek," Hamilton remembers. "We wanted to say, 'We're not afraid to worship in a funeral home because Jesus rose from the dead and we're not afraid of death.' "

Church of the Resurrection can hardly keep pace with its own growth. It holds six services each weekend. The current sanctuary, built two years ago, seats 1,600 people, not nearly enough space for a projected attendance that could reach between 15,000 and 20,000 within the next 10 years.

Members become investors

Resurrection's goal is to cultivate a deeper Christian community in Kansas City area and to help rejuvenate struggling Methodist churches around the nation. Members recently formed a steering committee that has produced a bold financial strategy to assist the church's ongoing growth. Instead of passing the plate, the congregation is staking its future in the world of real- estate development.

The 47 undeveloped acres surrounding Church of the Resurrection are among the ...

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