Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reproducing Leaders and Locations

We have been actively engaging our community with the gospel for nearly two years and are beginning to see some fruit. We knew coming into this that there might be slow growth in the beginning stages. For one, we are planting a church among poor and marginalized people, in the midst of an economically and physically depressed neighborhood. Secondly, the church building we inherited from the former Sixth Avenue Baptist Church is in much need of renovation and repair. The building is structurally sound, but it is showing its age at nearly a century old.

We have obeyed and gone to the place God had shown us, even though we had no idea how all of this would turn out. Two years ago I returned to Troy (the city I was born and raised in) with nothing more than vision from God and faith a little bit smaller than a mustard seed. Over the past two years the Lord who sent us has also supplied us with so much more than we could have ever asked for or imagined (Eph. 3:20).

With all of that said, we are now seeing the real fruit of our labors as new people are coming into our community of faith. One in particular, a 40-something year old man named Ron, we are now training to be our first small group facilitator. Ron has a deep love for the word of God and a burden for seeing lost people find their wayback to God. We are blessed to have him and his family with us. Up until now it has been me, our associate pastor Ron Blanchette (not the same Ron as above), and another member of our leadership team, John, who have been leading our small groups. We are now beginning to reproduce leaders.

Additionally, we have had a few college guys coming to our fellowship gatherings. One in particular, a young man named Aser, has "Student Ministry Leader" written all over him. In the coming weeks I will gather up enough nerve to ask this young man to consider joining our leadership team as our leader of student ministries.

God has also given me vision for reproducing locations. I have had a burden for Schenectady, N.Y. for some time now. My wife and I lived there for twelve years. We still own a home there which we are renting out.

Additionally, I am thinking about North Troy, also known as Lansingburgh. This is a neighborhood 26 city blocks in length and nine blocks deep that is 90% residential. It is mostly comprised of middle class working families (much like my own family). There are the usual mainline denominational churches present in Lansingburgh, along with a fundamental, KJV only, Baptist church, with a pastor who either scares people into making salvation decisions or scares them away, mostly the latter. The Lansingburgh community is a bit different than the neighborhood the CORE Church is targeting.

The people living in this north end of the city of Troy are more financially stable, yet many of them don't know Jesus Christ personally, and there's not one church or church planter among them that has a burden and/or passion for seeing them experience a true, personal relationship with the living God. Well, that is until now.

So, please keep us in prayer as God gives new vision