Centers of InfluenceBy Dan Vis
September 23, 2018
In 2017, I did a three part series on lessons I gleaned from my time in Brazil, including one on small groups and another on church leadership. This post was part two, where I talked about an amazing church I visited, designed from the ground up for ministry. It's a perfect supplement to the Unleashed class we're featuring this month...
In some ways, evangelism is becoming more difficult. People are gradually becoming more secular, more alienated, more resistant. Traditional ways of reaching people are not working as well. Therefore, new methods must be explored. Or old methods, perhaps.
The classic book, Ministry of Healing, on page 143, contains this well known quote:
Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, "Follow Me."
Several points stand out. First, we must develop ways to interact with the people in our community and build relationships. Barricading our ministry solely within the security of the church is not an option. Second, to unlock hearts, we must identify real problems, and offer real solutions. There's power in genuine service. And third, our witnessing will be most effective, when we share truth with those whose confidence we have already won. Finally, it seems clear that this approach to witnessing is the only method that will give true success.
“Evangelism is becoming more difficult. New methods of reaching people must be explored. Or old methods, perhaps.”
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During my trip to Brazil, I had the chance to see one of the most amazing churches I have ever visited. It's located on a busy road immediately between the city's port and the downtown area ensuring thousands of cars drive by every day. Above you can see a picture of the front of the building.
Rather than looking like a traditional church, it features a center for classes on healthy living on the right side, and on the left a vegetarian restaurant. Farther down there's a small health food store as well. The center entryway opens to a park-like courtyard area that's generally open to the community. Here are a few more pictures.
In addition to this room for cooking classes there are two other classrooms.
The restaurant serves delicious food!
The health food store was converted from an old garage.
Notice the various stations around the courtyard. Each has a small sign promoting one of the eight laws of health.
Also off the courtyard, there is a beautiful sanctuary where the church members meet. There are also additional classrooms for the various children's divisions.
The community classrooms are busy throughout the week, with cooking schools, exercise classes, courses on English, guitar, various crafts, and whatever else members or friends of the church feel qualified to teach. Whenever a new class is offered, registration fills up in hours. This, combined with a steady flow of customers at the health food store and restaurant, ensures the church has ample relationships with people in the community.
These people are then invited to special events and programs in the church. Because the church members have followed the basic steps of rubbing shoulders with them, showing a desire and willingness to help them enjoy a better, more healthful life, serving them in practical ways, and over time won their confidence, these people are often open and receptive to spiritual truth.
Since their launch 18 months ago, the church has nearly tripled in size from about 70 members to more than 200.
While not every church can replicate the exact implementation of Christ's method that this church has, we can all work towards pursuing the basic principles of Christ's method. Hopefully, this brief report will help inspire us to move in that direction!
CommentsHow can we do more to build bridges with our communities through ministering to people's needs? How important is it that our churches be centers of influence in our communities?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/02/19|
|That's exciting Ruth! I pray God gives you special wisdom to find ways to reach your community, and just as important, to involve your church family. For more ideas, be sure to take the Unleashed class. That gives a whole framework for building out these kinds of ministries. Keep us posted!
Oh, and if you have Lab access, post a prayer request in the Prayer Chapel. This is the kind of ministry-focused request I love to see our members praying for!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/25/19|
|Sounds exciting Cathy! If you can, take our Unleashed class. It will give you even more ideas. If you can find ways to build stronger relationships with these individuals you will be able to do far more for them than just provide a meal. It's a difficult group to connect with in some ways, but seeing a life rescued from such a situation would be so very rewarding!|
|Posted by Emmanuel Ajiroghene on 09/23/19|
|This is amazing. If only we commit time and energy is doing the right things, we will get things right. I hope I can assess this memo anything?|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/19/18|
|You are right Barbara, that the more important key is having the right focus! But a great facility can help. Perhaps some kind of small community outreach center in town that could double as a location for a church plant. See what happens, and things may just grow!
Great timing then, Carlota! Hope it sparks some thoughts...
My pleasure, Carla! It really was a pretty impressive place conceptually. Great pastor leading there as well--very godly, and determined to follow the counsels...
You are very welcome David! Glad you found this inspiring. :) And thanks for sharing about Unleashed. Be sure to point them to the website! :)
Sounds exciting Tyler Crouch. If you ever need a guest speaker I could probably be persuaded to come visit you in Hawaii! :) It's already getting cold here in ND. Expecting a freeze over the next couple days. And then it just gets colder from there...
|Posted by David Grabe on 09/18/18|
|Greetings all my Fast Friends in our Lovely Saviour's Name!
Wow, Pastor Dan! What an INNOVATIVE-yet Unassuming church plant that is literally thriving by attracting people from all walks of life by-as you have said, "providing intersections of needs & solutions" for many groups of people! I have shared the initial article "Valentines" from the "Unleashed" Series just begun this month, at our church last Sabbath, and will follow up this week with "Mousetrap" segment.
The pictures are such a big help in seeing how a church can become what the Lord our God seeks us all to become in the world:
"...a word in season to him that is weary" Isaiah 50:4The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
"...an house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
"...all things to all men, that (we)might by all means save some." I Corinthians 9:22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
"...will very gladly spend and be spent for the (souls of men);even though the more abundantly we love, the less we are loved." II Corinthians 12:15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
"withholding not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of our hand to do it." Proverbs 3:27Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
And most of all, following our Lovely Saviour's example:
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power, Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him." Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
And I believe He will be with each one of us-with His church, "which is His body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all." Ephesians 1:22,23And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, . . . Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Thank you again, Pastor Dan & everyone, for your insightful thoughts!
You have given me MUCH to think about, SHARE, & Plan for!
I Thessalonians 2:19,20For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? . . . For ye are our glory and joy.
|Posted by Carla Phillips on 09/18/18|
|A lovely church, very smart ideas with the restaurant and cooking and exercise classes. The pictures were great , thank you for sharing .|
|Posted by Carlota Belmo on 09/18/18|
|I love this idea, especially since we’re in the building stage of our church, it’s in the right location and community. I will share this with my group.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/17/18|
|Actually, that thought crossed my mind too, Laurie. Outer court, holy place, most holy place. :)|
|Posted by Laurie Wissink on 09/17/18|
|Yes. This 'model' is a great example to use with the 'unleashed' class and even reminds me a little of the "Moral Machinery" book.|
|Posted by Laurie Wissink on 09/17/18|
|What an inspiring group of people, all united on ministry, using their individual talents, to unitedly reach out to their community and its needs!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 08/24/17|
|It was quite an inspiration to me also Blessing. All the best as you look for ways to implement ideas from this church in yours!|
|Posted by Nora on 08/21/17|
|Thanx Dan for sharing this wonderful stories and pictures. This is God's
Blue Print that we should follow to hasten Christ coming.
|Posted by Qing Ling on 08/21/17|
|Amen! Great to see a church impacting their LOCAL community. Definitely an inspiration. May God multiply centres of influence like this one.|
|Posted by Jacqueline on 08/21/17|
|It seems wonderful to have it in one location. A learning and teaching a practical place where people are the difference in the way we eat and ministering to the needs of the community.|
|Posted by Danetta on 08/21/17|
|I think I heard of these through Jesse Zwiker who helps set up these centres of influence :) Praise God for the encouraging happenings in South America!|
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