And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
“Instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads, sometimes God wants us to keep our eyes open for people in need, do something about it, and bow our whole lives to Him instead.”
About seven years ago, our church started partnering with an incredible missions organization called Awe Star ministries. What this ministry does is take students on 7 day, 14 day and 35 day mission trips to share the Gospel all over the world. It has made a tremendous impact on the life of my family and the life of our church. I remember talking with Walker, president of AweStar ministries, and I asked him, “Why don’t you take what you do in foreign countries and do that here in the states?” A fair question. His response, “It’s the church’s responsibility.” At first, I thought it was kind of an odd statement, but the more I thought about it, he was right.
It is my responsibility, our responsibility as the church to be the church to the communities that surround us. Sure, it’s great to a once in while mission trip in our community, but what about 24/7 being the church to our community rather than expecting people to always come to our church? Why not go to where the darkness is and one by one be light to communities?
At this same time, our church started doing ministry in mobile home communities. What this consisted of was an occasional cookout. In 2008, we took our first mission trip to Mission Arlington in Texas with our students. I was not expecting anything other than a great experience for our students, but what God did was birthed a hunger and desire to reach our community–especially those who most churches were not willing to reach. Mission Arlington/Metroplex has over 300 house churches and provide Jesus, food and many other things to those in their community. They go after the hurting and those who may not necessarily darken the door of a church.
Soon after returning, we went to a mobile community two miles from our church and asked if we could use a home for ministry/after school. At first we were turned down, but about a month later, we were allowed access. From here, we started an after school program and another church started a lifegroup at the community. We didn’t see a whole lot of fruit for about two years and during these two years, we were tempted to give up, but the Lord never let us give up. Through the faithful and consistent ministry of Jennifer Grant and my family, God started opening up doors as new managers, who were believers, came on the scene.
As a result of all of this, the doors are opening for us to be a presence in these communities. We have access right now to three communities. We are the first one’s to call when people need prayer or salvation. We are the first to call when people need help. This summer we had PowerCamps in each of these communities each week to share the Gospel. We have seen many come to know Christ. Our 4th-6th Graders, incredible adults and students have led the charge in this ministry. We were able to also host an evangelistic soccer camp. Now, after a successful summer of ministry, the Lord asked me, “What Now? Are you going to just wait until next summer to get re-connected again?”
We are starting an after school program in an East Tulsa mobile community along with starting a church on Sundays. We are in the process of getting mobile homes to house the events/activities for this community. What I am finding is the managers of these properties want to change their communities for the better and we are able to help make that happen. We also have just received the go ahead to start a church on Sunday mornings at a mobile home community down the street that we have been serving in over the past four years. Included in the after school program will be a leadership program that will help kids/students learn to take pride in their neighborhood and lead out in their communities to improve it using our Leader in Training material.
Up to this point, I have been waiting for everything to line up and wait on circumstances, but as Peter had to put his feet into the water in order to walk on the water, I need to get out of the boat and stop waiting for the perfect circumstances and that is the reason for this blog post. It’s time to move forward. God has used these last 5-6 years to prepare us for now. There has been a team of people praying and seeking the Lord for next steps and I believe God is honoring that.
So, what does this look like?
1. BE the Church.
People won’t listen until they know you care. This step will take resources. As of right now, we are helping through providing furniture, food, and activities for the communities. Through this we are able to share the Gospel. We are in the process of starting to remodel one of the homes in one of the communities for a Clubhouse that we can do after school programs/PowerCamps in.
Resources we need right night now are: manpower(church groups) to fix up mobile home for a community center in a community(materials are provided for); funding for cookouts and events for the communities; funding to encourage the managers at each location; people to start praying what there role will be: After School Power Camps/Church/Leading lifegroups/Pastoring Communities; mobile homes to fix up to be community centers in each community($5000-$10000 each to buy and repair)
We have been so blessed by the people of these communities that we are a part of.
We encourage people to read the book, “Toxic Charity”, though in preparation for the opportunities that present themselves. We want to empower the people and communities, not them rely on us for spiritual welfare.
2. Start LifeGroups.
As we gain the opportunity through caring, we want to provide Bible studies that will help people start their spiritual journeys. Through the initial phase of opening doors, we are praying for people of peace who can open their home for LifeGroups or help lead in the community centers/churches to be opened in each community. We also want to provide life coaching through Financial Peace and Family iD.
3. Start Churches.
Our goal is to train up people who would desire to pastor these communities. These pastors will need a hub of spiritual support and recovery, hence the need for them to have a strong church home to be fed either through starting our own church or connecting with their home church.
They will then through the week provide opportunities for their church to come together for worship, fellowship, discipleship and missions. Our goal isn’t necessarily for people to come to one of our established churches but to be the church in their community and come together as a church to change lives through Jesus. But if they do come to established churches then great! We still want to partner with churches where the people can benefit the most in regards to spiritual growth.
We are open to starting churches in more than just mobile communities–anywhere the church is not going and the Lord leads us, we are willing to go.
Training of these pastors will come through bi-weekly or monthly gatherings of teaching, worship, and testimonies.
We have opportunities NOW to start these churches.
Resources needed: funds for lunches before church service (possible name 11:28 church-“come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest”); willing people to give their time to mentor children and students/adults.
4. Host In-State and Out-of State Churches.
We have the capacity to house mission groups that will be able to do construction, PowerCamps, Soccer Camps and more in these communities. Not just in these communities, but we want to resource churches in our community with these groups coming from in-state and out of state, so how can we partner with other churches in bringing Jesus to their communities?
We already have one group committed for 2015 and possibly two more.
Resources we need for this to be accomplished: 6-8 person Shower Trailer (approx. $20,000. This would also double as a disaster relief shower trailer that can be used across the country when disaster strikes); Churches that need groups to come in to help them evangelize their communities.
5. Plant Churches.
We want to see pastors come out of these communities. My goal would be to see a church in every mobile community in Creek County and Tulsa County. The good thing about planting churches is it’s not going to take a lot of funding to maintain these sites once established. The churches in these communities will not look like a typical church that we experience on Sunday mornings.
I like how John 1:14 is phrased in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
John 1:14 speaks to what we have to become in order to reach those that aren’t being reached. God took drastic measures to reach the people he created by moving His Son into the world.
Again, I am reminded that the ingredient that Peter needed to walk on water was His feet…..Jesus did the rest. His feet demonstrated his faith. He had to get out of the boat and the first thing that had to come out of the boat was his feet and that is where I am. I have waited for the perfect situation and circumstances, but also need to realize that when Peter stepped there were not perfect circumstances, but in Matthew 14:24, it says, “… the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” If I wait until the circumstances are perfect, I will never step out.
In this context of Peter taking the step of faith, Romans 10:14-15 becomes clearer:
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say,
“How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
It takes prayers and FEET to be the church.
In closing, this is is ultimately what this ministry is about (possibly name it Serve Tulsa Metro) is all about….
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God :made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[a] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
Are you interested in taking the church to our communities? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if your are interested in making a difference. Many of my friends go on mission trips at least once a year. How about going on missions weekly or 24/7?
Maybe for you it’s time to get out of the boat.