CHURCH PLANT PROSPECTUS-SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of PTH 530: Church Planting at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

PROSPECTUS: Freedom Outreach—A Church Plant Movement

by John Caleb Alarid

21 November, 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION WHY DOES THE CHURCH EXIST?

The Glory of God , The Kingdom of God, and Our Missional Assignment

  1. WHAT DOES GOD WANT TO DO?

Mission, Vision

  1. WHO AM I?

Biography, Personality Type

  1. WHAT AM I SENT TO DO?

Demographics, Freedom Outreach, Freedom Center, Urban Training Center

  1. HOW WILL WE ACCOMPLISH THE TASK?

Healthy Church Launch, Healthy Church Life, Connect, Grow, Serve, Go, Worship Missional Helix

  1. WHO WILL DO IT WITH ME?

Prayer Partners, Board, Church Plant Team

  1. HOW WILL WE EVALUATE THE PROGRESS?

ADA and SSSIK Analysis

WHY DOES THE CHURCH EXIST?

The Glory of God: The church exists to glorify God by enjoying Him and calling all the peoples of the world to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The Westminster Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His Kingdom. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”[1]  

The Kingdom of God: The church exists to extend the rule and reign of the invisible Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ over all aspects of life and culture. The church is a tool to advance the Kingdom of God during this “already” and “not yet” period between the first and second coming of Christ. Ultimately the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our LORD and He will reign forever. “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”[2]  

Our Missional Assignment: The Church’s sole purpose for remaining in this fallen world is to bring people into a loving and committed relationship with Jesus Christ. Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Christians are to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all creation. Believers reason for existing is to make disciples. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”[3]  

1. WHAT DOES GOD WANT TO DO? 

Mission: The mission of Freedom Outreach is to evangelize and disciple the hurting and marginalized of Springfield, Missouri with the message of hope and the plan of Jesus Christ through outreach, residential recovery homes, and life-giving worship gatherings. Ultimately, the men and women who are reached, trained, and equipped will be sent out as urban church planters to transform the world.

Vision: Freedom Outreach exists first to reach out to the marginalized of our Jerusalem (Springfield), then to Samaria (the inner-cities of the United States), and then to the world. Our target group is the marginalized of society—the criminal, addict, prostitute, ex-convict, and gang member. Freedom Outreach believes that God will raise up an army of outcasts in these last days to boldly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and miraculous signs will follow. The first daughter church plant coming out of the Springfield Freedom Outreach will be in St. Louis, Missouri. The launch date for the St. Louis church plant is June of 2018—three years after the Springfield Freedom Outreach launch date.

2. WHO AM I?          

Biography: My passion to reach out to the marginalized of society stems from my own struggle with addiction to heroin and crack cocaine. My parents were missionaries to Latin America when I was a child. My father grew up in Mexico, and my mother is from San Diego, California. They met at Elim Bible College in New York. After graduation, they went as missionaries to Costa Rica. After several years on the field, my family returned to the United States, and my parents got divorced several years later. I grew up with my father’s side of the family. My heroes were my uncles, who drove luxury cars and had lots of money. I later followed in their footsteps. Through my affiliation with Chicano gangs and connections in the Sinaloa Cartel, I quickly became a major player in the “dope game” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were responsible for sending large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the Midwest and East Coast. However, like my uncles, I was continually in trouble with the law due to criminal activity and heavy drug use. In 1998 I stabbed a guy who attacked me at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time, I was on probation for other charges, and it was likely that I would be sent to prison for many years.

I fled to Phoenix, Arizona where I heard about a Christian recovery home by the name of Victory Outreach. I went into the rehab with the intention of “kicking” my costly heroin addiction and then moving to Mexico in order to avoid prison time. However, the Lord had other plans. The home was very structured with work, prayer, fasting and teaching. After three moths, I surrendered my life to the Lord in a radical conversion experience. Several months, later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and received my call to ministry at the Southwest regional men’s rehabilitation home conference. To this day, I remember the service. The evangelist’s name was Philip Lacrue, and the title of the message was, “The God of Second Chances.” At the end of the message, the evangelist invited all those who felt the Lord was calling them to full-time ministry to come forward. Although many went forward, I did not. I obstinately told the Lord, “I am not going up there unless you speak to me.” At that moment, the presence of God came upon me, and I began to weep from deep within. Tears rolled down my face like never before. I said, “Yes, Lord,”and stepped out of my seat and began walking down to the altar which appeared to be covered with a gray mist. When I stepped into the mist, I began to speak in tongues for the first time. The tongues came out like a waterfall; I spoke in tongues for three days. This was the early part of 1999, and my life has had many ups and downs since then but I will never forget the night God empowered and called me to the ministry. After graduating the year-long program at Victory Outreach, I became assistant director of the men and boys home. About a year later, I went to the Urban Training Center in Los Angeles. Upon graduation, I was asked to join a missionary team headed to Manila in the Philippines for two years. In Manila, I trained national recovery home directors and served as assistant director of the Urban Training Center, the school of ministry. I also led a church planting team that started a work in the Tondo barangay (neighborhood) of Manila. Tondo is known to be the most dangerous section of metro-Manila. In fact, I mentioned my plan to plant a church in Tondo to Steve Long, an Assembly of God missionary in Manila at the time. He told me not to do it because it was too dangerous. Many foreigners that go into that neighborhood are kidnapped or killed. I took this as a confirmation for me to go and plant a church in Tondo as I want to go where no one else is willing or able to go.

At the end of two years, I returned to Los Angeles to attend the Victory Outreach world conference in Long Beach, California. After the conference, I intended to Phoenix, to be on the pastoral staff and work as a national evangelist for the organization. Instead, I was arrested at LAX on a fugitive warrant out of New Mexico for the stabbing in Albuquerque years before. I became discouraged and eventually fell away from God for two years. I was sent to prison in 2007. My first year in prison, I was sent to solitary confinement for suspicion of smuggling narcotics into the facility. In a lonely prison cell in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I got down on my knees and asked the Lord to forgive me and come back into my life. I said, “Lord, I no longer have any aspirations of doing great things for you. I just want the peace and joy I once had in you. Would you forgive me and come back into my life?” The Lord gloriously returned. I was in solitary confinement for five months. During that time, waves of what felt like electric liquid love flowed over me. The presence of God was tangible. I read my Bible and prayed eighteen hours a day. Also, the Lord began to restore my call and showed me some things he would do through my life in the future. I said, “No way, Lord! You got the wrong guy. There are people out there are who are more faithful, talented, and holy than I. I am a failure.” The Lord responded from Mathew 20:15, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own things?” I responded tearfully, “Yes, of course, Lord. You are God.” While in prison, I served as the inmate church pastor. God moved in incredible ways, and many came into the Kingdom. Upon my release, I finished my parole in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One weekend, I was speaking at an Assemblies of God camp meeting. After one of the services, an old pastor came up and said, “You need to go to Central Bible College.” I had never heard of CBC nor had I ever been to Missouri. However, the Lord confirmed it, and I came to CBC in 2011. I met my wife Hannah at CBC, a graduate of the Long Island Teen Challenge program. Later, I graduated with a B.A. in Church Leadership and an A.A. in Bible, summa cum laude. I am now in the Intercultural Ministries program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and hold credentials and a correctional chaplaincy endorsement with the General Council of the Assemblies of God. One of the things the Spirit whispered over and over while I was prison was a statement from the book of Judges, “Then the Lord raised up deliverers.”[4] I believe the Lord will raise up an army of outcasts in these last days out of the prisons and off the streets to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with power. These outcasts who were once committed to their addiction, gangs, and sinful lifestyles will be even more dedicated and sold out for the cause of Christ. The Freedom Center will train up men and women just like me to go out and change their world for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. This is not just a church planting assignment. This is a God-given mandate. I have taken several personality tests. The widely used personality test, DISC Profile, identified me as a “D.” This type of personality is a determined doer who is result-oriented and takes authority. According to the Myer-Briggs personality test, I have an ENTJ personality. The ENTJ’s are natural-born leaders whose life motto is “Everything’s fine—I’m in charge” and “Let’s make it happen.” These personality types makes great church planters. According to Myer-Briggs, the ENTJs are efficient, energetic, self-confident, strong-willed, charismatic and strategic thinkers. However, they can also be impatient, intolerant, stubborn and even dominant. I need to be cognizant of my weaknesses and surround myself with a team to make up where I lack.

3. WHAT AM I SENT TO DO?                                        

I am called to plant a church (Freedom Outreach), recovery homes (Freedom Center), and a training center (Urban Training Center) in Springfield, MO. This movement will make disciples of the unchurched and marginalized in Springfield, MO. The church and recovery center will reach and train future pastors, church planters, rehab directors, and church leaders to reproduce the Freedom Outreach model in urban centers across the nation and around the world. Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri. The target communities will be in an area referred to by the locals as the “ghetto square” which includes portions of the 65803, 65802, and 65806 zip codes. The ghetto square includes the neighborhoods north of Grand Street to Kearney Street and west from Glenstone Avenue to Kansas Expressway. For the purpose of demographic study, we will look at Springfield as a whole and the 65806 zip code. Demographics: Springfield, Missouri Demographics:[5] Population By Races

RaceTotal population Population164,000 % of Total100
White Alone 141,526 88.7
Black or African American 6,524 4
Hispanic or Latino 5,851 3
Two or More Races 5,044 3
Asian 3,015 1
American Indian 1,233 Below1%
Native Hawaiian PacificIslander 267 Below1%

Median Age By Sex

Both Sexes 33
Male 31
Female 35

Missouri has held the infamous title of “Meth Capital” of the nation off and on for many years. This is based on the amount of methamphetamine lab busts.[6] Missouri is also number seven in the list of states in the nation for deaths related to drug overdoses.[7] Also, heroin addiction and possession arrests are on the rise in 2014. According to law enforcement there has been a massive increase in heroin on the Springfield streets. Much of the heroin is coming from Chicago via St. Louis. Springfield police have seized more heroin in the first six months of 2014 than in the past four years combined. Captain Millsap says, “Our two major issues we deal with in narcotics right now is still meth– and now heroin.”[8] Violence and property crimes are also on the rise in Springfield, which coincides with the increase of drugs on the city streets. More drugs always mean more crime. In fact, on Saturday, November 15, 2014 three people were shot and killed at a north Springfield hotel.[9] Also, 97% of the more than thirty thousand incarcerated inmates will return to our communities throughout Missouri. “Each year there are approximately 20,000 inmates released back into the community in Missouri.”[10] National statistics show that 50% of those released will reoffend and be sent back to prison within three years. Many of the twenty thousand released prisoners in Missouri will end up in Springfield. Five people were killed in five days this month (November 2014). Springfield was recently listed as number five of the top ten most violent small cities of the world.[11] 65806 Zip Code- Detailed Profiles:[12] Zip code 65806 compared to state average:

  • Median household income significantly below state average.
  • Median house value below state average.
  • Unemployed percentage above state average.
  • Median age significantly below state average (26 years old vs. 38 yeas old).
  • Renting percentage significantly above state average.
  • Number of rooms per house significantly below state average.
  • House age above state average.
  • Number of college students above state average.
  • Percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher below state average.

In the 65803 zip code 41.3% of the population had income below the poverty level in 2011 and 17.3% were 50% below the poverty level. Like the rest of Springfield and Missouri, the population is at least 85% white. Freedom Outreach: Freedom Outreach is a Spirit-empowered, disciple-making church for the marginalized of Springfield, Missouri that will have passionate worship services, anointed Bible teaching, and the gifts of the Spirit in operation. Freedom Outreach will unashamedly preach and teach the whole counsel of God in an atmosphere of love and discipleship. Freedom Outreach is an organic movement that multiplies through planting churches, missional communities, and Freedom Centers throughout the urban centers of the United States. We will continually train and equip new leaders for the propagation of the gospel. Our mottos are “Come as you are, but don’t stay that way”, “Let’s do life together” and “You’re a world changer”. Tim Keller has deduced five primary purposes of the church form Acts 2:42-47.[13] Freedom Outreach is committed to these purposes:

  1. Worship/ Prayer- The early church devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread and prayer”.[14] Throughout the history of the church, worship and prayer have been integral parts of the community of believers.
  2. Learning- The early church devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.
  3. Fellowship/ Community- The early church was intentional about devoting themselves to fellowship. Community was natural and organic. They did life together.
  4. Outreach/ Evangelism- People were converted daily in the early church. There was outreach in both word and deed. There was personal evangelism. Also, the outside community witnessed their love, worship and power, which drew in the unsaved.
  5. Mercy/ Social Concern- the first century disciples sold their possessions to distribute the proceeds to members who were in need. This ministry of compassion began among the Christians, but we know from history that the church also shared with those outside its community. In fact, the Roman Emperor Julian noted, “Nothing has so contributed to the progress of these Christians as their charity to strangers.”[15] The church must reclaim mercy-based ministry in obedience to Jesus and in order for our “light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mathew 5:16).

  Freedom Center: The Freedom Center, an urban monastery model, is a residential Christian recovery and discipleship home for the marginalized of the urban centers. The marginalized will include addicts, recently released prisoners, gang members, prostitutes and the criminals in the target community. Of the 20,000 thousand inmates that will be released from prison each year in Missouri, many will come to Springfield. Without a drastic change in their lives, more than half will commit new crimes and be sent back to prison within three years. The Freedom Center will accept men and woman out of prison. This will benefit the community by lowering the recidivism and crime rate. The Freedom Center will be loosely based on a monastic lifestyle and ora et labora (Latin for pray and work) which is associated with the Rule of St. Benedict. The Freedom Center will provide a twelve-month highly structured, Christ-centered environment for men and women. “Historians and scholars have long recognized…the difference between the Greek emphasis on the individual and the Hebrew concept of community”.[16] Discipleship and life transformation happen best in the context of community. Jesus walked and lived with his disciples for three years. The early church grew in the context of community –house churches. In our fast-paced, work-centered, individualistic, microwave and materialistic society, which is only accentuated in the urban context, we do not have time for spiritual formation. Waiting on and hearing from God are not on our list of priorities. The Freedom Center (FC) will provide the balance of work and spiritual formation in the context of community. There will be a fixed schedule of work, prayer, chapel, class, quiet time and evangelism. F.C. is committed to the five purposes of the church listed above. This community will emphasize the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues according to Acts 2.[17] The supernatural aspects of Pentecostalism, the empowering of the Spirit for service and evangelism, and the charismatic gifts will be taught and embraced at the center. By the end of the year, the men and women will have developed an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is vital for victory over sin and addiction. The men and women who graduate will have the spiritual disciplines and life skills needed to lead successful and godly lives. A Biblical picture of this model is David’s cave of Adullam as recorded in 1 Samuel 22. This was a bandit’s hideout where the marginalized of society gathered around David, while he was on the run for his life. These men were discipled unto God in a community with David, a man after God’s own heart. These outcasts were later renowned throughout Israel as mighty men of valor. Discipleship happens best within a community. Some things are caught not taught. The prerequisite of home directors will normally be that they have been delivered from deep darkness, set free and on fire for God. Home directors will preferably be ex-convicts. This may be the only position where checking the “prior felony convictions” box could actually be beneficial. The F.C., like the cave of Adullam, will be a training ground where outcasts are turned into world changers. The Freedom Center operates on the foundational belief that God raises up the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”.[18] There are many examples of this happening throughout Scripture. In Genesis there is the story of Joseph who is taken out of prison to become the prime minister of Egypt, enabling him to save the lives of many including his own family– the line of the coming Messiah. Rahab, a prostitute, is the hero of Joshua 2 and shows up in the family tree of Jesus in Mathew 1. In the Book of Judges, Gideon is found scared and hiding from the Midianites in a wine press when the Angel of the Lord calls him a “Mighty Warrior”. After much encouragement and many signs, Gideon leads the Israelites into victory over their enemies.[19] In modern times we see gang members, like Nicky Cruz, whose lives are transformed by the power of God. Nicky has been used powerfully for many decades in bringing thousands of people to the feet of Jesus. This author, John Alarid, a former heroin addict and drug dealer, was affiliated with a Mexican cartel but now preaches the gospel.[20] God likes to empower the weak and unlikely ones of this world to do great exploits so that he alone gets the glory. The Jews expected their Messiah to come as a Warrior King to destroy their enemies and reign on an earthly throne. Instead He was born in a manger and died a criminal’s death. Yet by His death and resurrection he saved all those, who would receive Him by faith, from judgment and death. God says through the prophet, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”[21] God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called. It is a pattern in Scripture and life that God uses the unlikely in ways the world would not expect. The Freedom Center is not just a rehab or halfway house; it is a training center for future world changers—urban evangelists, church planters and Freedom Center directors. God is preparing an army of outcasts, out of the prisons and off the streets, to go across this land boldly preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with signs and wonders following. The marginalized will be the unlikely deliverers in these last days. An individual that comes out of a gang and/ or addiction understands how to be totally dedicated to something. When God reveals His love and mercy to one of these outcast, they will be bold and fully committed soldiers in the Lord’s Army. God is able to turn a negative attribute into a positive for His glory. Truly, those who are forgiven much are that much more grateful and loving.[22] Furthermore, someone who has been marginalized by society for years and even decades is not afraid to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God despite opposition. The culture may attempt to silence and intimidate them in the name of political correctness or relative truth. However, a person who has been marginalized by society and/or spent years in prison will not fear speaking the truth in the face of verbal attacks and even threats of prison. Like Paul, they understand, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”[23] These world changers have nothing to lose and only heaven to gain.  

Urban Training Center: Freedom Outreach will start a school of ministry for members of the church and Freedom Center graduates. The training center will offer theological training, mentorship and hands on ministry. The students will take Berean ministerial courses through a Global University on-site study group. Once the students finish level one of the ministerial program, they will apply for credentials through the local Assembly of God district. Students will work closely with the pastoral team in doing the work of the ministry. Upon graduation the students will be launched into an area of ministry in the local church or sent out as part of a church planting team to reproduce the Freedom Outreach model in urban centers across the nation and around the world. The Urban Training Center will train and equip pastors, church planters, and church leaders to lead on mission.  

4. HOW WILL WE ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION

Healthy Church Launch: The public launch of Freedom Outreach will be Sunday June 14, 2015 with two hundred people in attendance and a launch team of fifty people. In January of 2015 we will find a property and start the Freedom Center for ten men with life controlling issues and/or those being released from prison. From January to June the core group will continue to build our network and let the city of Springfield know we are here! I will personally visit local pastors, city planners, the chief of police, local rehabilitation centers and news reporters. I will set up an appointment in January with Ken Chapman, the Re-entry coordinator for the State of Missouri Department of Corrections. Ken and I have met at several conferences in Missouri related to my position at Prison Fellowship Ministries. He told me he would allow inmates to “home plan” (parole) to the Freedom Center and to inform him when it is open. My wife, Hannah and I will need to attend two Association of Related Churches (ARC) conferences to finish the application for funding. My brother Brian Alarid, lead pastor of Passion Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has offered to be the sponsoring church for the funds. We expect to receive $50,000 for the public launch in June 2015. The money will be dispersed three months before the launch date. Another important aspect of our network will be to find an “Antioch” to partner with. Antioch was the sending church for Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. City-Reach Network is a possibility. Brian Bolt, who met the Lord at Victory Outreach in southern California (as did I), utilizes their model of planting recovery homes with the church plant. I have spoken with Brian many times and my wife and I have taken the personality test with the City Reach Network. Another possibility is partnering with Victory Outreach. Victory Outreach would be a natural fit, as this is the ministry where I met the Lord in 1998. I was in full-time ministry as a missionary and church planter with this ministry for four years. I recently spoke with my former pastor, Tony Garcia, who is the regional director for the Southwest Region of Victory Outreach. He offered finances and manpower if I decide to launch a Victory Outreach Church in Springfield. If I go with Victory Outreach, I will have to surrender my credentials and chaplaincy endorsement with the AG, as it is against the policy to be ordained in two ministries. I have also met with several other local networks including Pastor Ted and Leo of Life360 and Darlene Robinson at the national office with Missionary Church Planters and Developers. I will continue to fast and pray each week for specific direction in this area. We will continue to be intentional about connecting with the unchurched in North Springfield. My wife and I have a list on our phones that includes the people we come into contact on a daily basis that do not know the Lord. We pray each night for the city and the people on the list. It is important not just to know their names but also their stories in order to develop a relationship. Building relationships and meeting people must be intentional. We will use the Healthy Launch Funnel, which includes four different levels of a funnel. From the bottom up there is the launch, relationship, networking and awareness. The rule is that one will need be in relationship with two times the launch goal number, six times the launch goal in networking and sixty times the launch goal at the awareness stage. Hence with a launch goal of two hundred, we will need to be in relationship with four hundred; in network with twelve hundred and twelve thousand will need to be aware of Freedom Outreach. We will use many different approaches to get our name out in the community. The men’s and women’s recovery homes will be utilized to go street witnessing three times a week. They will hand out flyers and put up posters advertising the Freedom Center as a free recovery home. The advantage Freedom Outreach has in its evangelism is that we can offer prayers and a place to go. The homes offer a safe place free of charge, where people can go to get off drugs and out of their destructive environments. They can immediately get off the mean streets and enter a loving home. The most important marketing tool will be the lives of men and women in the center whose lives have been transformed. We will have “Rock the Block” outreaches every week at different neighborhoods in Springfield’s “ghetto square”. This entails having various activities for families in the neighborhood; such as, face painting and jumper rooms for the children, free haircuts for the men, free manicures for the ladies and BBQ for everybody. Also, there will be live music and rappers, testimonies and a clear presentation of the gospel message. The weekend before the public launch we will hold a large, live evangelistic drama at the Gillioz Theatre. A friend of mine in California, Tony Velasco, has much experience writing evangelistic dramas for Victory Outreach. I have also assisted in writing several dramas. Tony has agreed to assist in writing a drama called “417” (Springfield area code). The drama features a young man who moves to Springfield from Baskerville, California to live with his mother. He starts using methamphetamines occasionally but eventually he starts pushing drugs and addiction takes over his life. After a friend is murdered at a local hotel, he surrenders his life to Christ. We will promote the drama with flyers, outreaches and social media during the entire month leading up to the event. I will contact my friend T-bone, a famous Christian Hip-Hop artist, to see if he can fly out to be a part of the event. We expect to fill the Gillioz Theatre with one thousand souls each night, Thursday through Saturday, leading up to the public launch on Sunday June 14, 2014.

Healthy Church Life “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”[24] A healthy church is a growing church. This includes the numerical growth of the church, growth in the amount of active volunteers, and spiritual growth of the individual believers. A healthy church’s is environment will excel in these five areas: Connect, Grow, Serve, Go and Worship. Connect: “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”[25] Freedom Outreach is a church that is intentional about community. Connection with each other and the lost in our city is at the core of our DNA. Our name says it all. We are a church that reaches out and stays on mission. We are a community who does life together. We connect and grow together through Sunday worship services, small group discipleships (Life Groups), recovery groups (Living Free), community outreach, and by serving on the Dream Team, which is the name of our volunteers. There will be a new members dinner with the pastoral team once a month. New members will be encouraged to be baptized in water, join the Growth Track and serve on the Dream Team. Grow: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”[26] Freedom Outreach is intentional about discipleship. We are a disciple-making church. Steps to Becoming a Mature Disciple: Step 1: Nonbeliever to Believer Step 2: Believer to Church Member Step 3: Church Member to Growing Christian (Sprit-Filled Christian) Step 4: Growing Christian to Serving Christian (Spirit-Gifted Service) Step 5: Serving Christian to Witnessing Christian (Spirit-Empowered Witness) Step 6: Witnessing Christian to Multiplying Christian (Disciple-Maker) As soon as someone makes a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, they will be encouraged to do three things—be baptized in water, join a life group, enter the Growth Track. The Growth Track is based on the Church of the Highlands model. The Growth Track is a catalyst to help new believers become fully-devoted Christ-followers. The Growth Track leads people from their initial decision to accept Christ to healing and growth into a fulfilling role on the Dream Team at Freedom Outreach. The four classes are Church 101, Essentials 201, Discovery 301, and Dream Team 401. Church 101 will start each first Sunday of the month and will introduce the history and mission of Freedom Outreach. Essentials 201 will take place the second Sunday of the month. This class takes the class through the essential beliefs of Christianity. The Sixteen Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God will be covered in this class. Discovery 301 will help participants discover their unique personality, gifts, and God- given purpose in life. Dream Team 401 is a training session in an area of ministry of the participants’ choice. Serve: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[27] Freedom Outreach is a serving church. We emphasize the importance of gift-oriented ministry. Each member serves in an area of service on the Dream Team, serves the community through missional activities and allows the God-given gifts of the Spirit to operate in their lives for the building up of the church. The Dream Team is a group of believers that have discovered their gifts and passion and are actively serving in them.[28] Go: Jesus “said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”[29] We are all called to do the work of an evangelist. Every believer is called to be “salt and light” in their area of influence. Also, church members are fulfilling the Great Commission by serving in a missional church. Freedom Outreach exists to reach and disciple the lost and hurting of our city. We are intentional about this mandate. Our goal is not to develop a church for people who are already Christians. We are committed to doing the arduous task of reaching the marginalized of Springfield, Missouri and eventually the world. It is important to note that Jesus’ command includes preaching the gospel and making disciples. Evangelism and discipleship are two sides to the same coin. The Freedom Center is a place where the lost and hurting can come join a family, be healed and transformed into fully devoted Christ -followers. Also, as a church we will be involved in various outreach and compassion ministries in the community; including, street witnessing, Rock the Block, prison/ jail ministry, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree outreach, gang intervention, and poverty relief. By participating in the personal evangelism and discipleship, church services and outreaches our members are fulfilling the Great Commission. Worship: “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.”[30] We worship God because He is worthy of our worship. Freedom Outreach is filled with people whose lives have been radically set free and transformed by the power of the gospel. In Luke 7, we see the differing attitudes of Simon, the religious leader, and a sinful woman. Simon did not even give Jesus water to wash his feet, but the sinful woman wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her worship of Jesus was extravagant. Truly, those who have been forgiven much also love much. This passion and love for God is expressed in our worship services. Freedom Outreach creates an atmosphere where people can connect with God in community worship. Worship is not a once a week event. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul encourages believers to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, for this is our spiritual act of worship”. It includes every aspect of our lives. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”[31] Believers should not compartmentalize their lives into the sacred and secular. Daily devotional times are important. We should also be cognizant of the presence of God throughout the mundane and even the spectacular aspects of our daily lives. Worship is a lifestyle of obedience.

Missional Helix            

Freedom Outreach will use the Missional Helix, which is an intentional strategy for ministry formation and an essential component in successful urban church planting. Developing a practice of ministry is “understood as a helix because theology, history, culture, and strategy build on one another as the community of faith collectively develops understanding and a vision of God’s will within their cultural context”.[32] In defining ministry formation we may look at it as a spiral made up of the local church and the Holy Spirit. As the spiral moves upward it crosses four distinct points—theological reflection, cultural analysis, historical perspective, and strategy formation. The spiral grows to new heights and repeatedly crosses the four points, as ministry understanding and experiences develop. The first and foremost for any ministry formation is theological reflection. All ministry decisions must be rooted in sound biblical theology. Many church planters are more concerned about being culturally relevant than biblically accurate. “Too many church planters, while acknowledging the Bible as the Word of God, allow culture rather than Scripture to shape their core understanding of the church”.[33] Theological reflection will cause the ministry to be focused on the mission of God in the world rather than the latest fad of popular culture. We must do the hard work of biblical exegesis and the application to our cultural context. The principles will remain the same but the application may change. We must always start with and return often to Scripture in the task of ministry strategy formation. The second element along the Missional Helix is cultural analysis. “Cultural awareness enables missionaries and ministers to define types of peoples within a cultural context, to understand the social construction of their reality, to perceive how they are socially related to one another, and to explain how the Christian message intersects with every aspect of culture (birth rites, coming of age rituals, weddings, funerals, etc.).”[34] The urban church planter must understand the worldview of the target culture. Many times church planters will superimpose their worldview unto the target audience and interpret reality from their own perspective. “This intellectual colonialism results in transplanted theologies, reflecting the missionaries’ heritage, rather than contextualized theologies, developed by reflecting on scripture within the context of local languages, thought categories, and ritual patterns”.[35] The first step is to analyze the culture form a worldview perspective. There are at least four different worldview perspectives: secularism, animism, pantheism, and theism. Worldview analysis is only one of the ways to analyze the culture. The landscape of cities is constantly in flux; therefore, urban church planter must be cognizant of the changes and careful not to analyze the cultural in strictly general terms, such as, modern or post-modern. “From now on, nearly all ministry will be cross-cultural amid the urban pluralism caused by the greatest migration in human history from Southern hemisphere to the North, from the East to West, and above all, from rural to urban”.[36] The urban church planter must realize that in one city and even just one neighborhood there will be multiple cultures and languages represented. By understanding the different influences upon the target culture, the church planter can develop a strategy for communicating the gospel in a manner appropriate for the specific city or neighborhood. Historical perspective is the third component of the Missional Helix. It is common for North Americans to ignore this aspect because of their short national history. However, this is a mistake, as an understanding of the history will provide many insights that will assist in the development of the church planter’s strategy. For example, a young Bible School student went out and purchased a tattoo of a spider’s web on his elbow in order to reach out the “tattoo sub-culture”. However, unbeknownst to the seminarian, the web on the elbow represents more than art to this subculture. It represents the amount of years one has been incarcerated. Instead of being relevant, the tattoo ended up being an insult at worst and a joke at best. Those who had spent many years in prison did not accept his ministry. Furthermore, people have been killed for having tattoos they do not “deserve”. The student should have studied the history of the tattoo before putting it on his body. Also, the historical perspective will assist the church planter in understanding the syncretism of his target culture. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean, there is a mixture of Catholicism and the native religions. Many forms of witchcraft, like Santeria, will use Christian symbols but they are demonically influenced. The modern cultures in North America have syncretized Christianity and secularism, which has caused many to abandon the revealed truth of the Bible to embrace relative truth. In the West, we have sacrificed Truth on the altar of political correctness. To appease the culture, many Christian churches have succumbed to this syncretism. Last year the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Rev. Gary Hall, came out in support of same sex-marriage. Rev. Hall hailed the Supreme Court ruling that found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.[37] On November 14, 2014, the National Cathedral, for the first time, “invited Muslims to lead their own prayers” in the cathedral.[38] This is reminiscent to Manasseh, the wicked King of Judah in the Old Testament, who took an image “he had made and put it in God’s temple”.[39] Within two years the National Cathedral went from supporting same-sex marriage to allowing the worship of demons in the sanctuary. Allah is not the Christian God Yahweh of the Old Testament. The apostle Paul makes it clear that anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus has is God come in the flesh is of “the spirit of the antichrist”.[40] The claims of Jesus and orthodox Christianity are exclusive, as he claimed to be the only way to heaven. The lead pastor of the largest Assembly of God church in the United States, Wilfredo de Jesus (affectionately known as Pastor Choco), recently stated, “We are called to change the culture not to become like the culture. We need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be bold and courageous.”[41] We are called to transform and lead the culture. Some people are offended by his straightforwardness. For example, he truthfully states that homosexuality is a sin at a time when the culture is adamantly stating the opposite. Many church leaders would rather remain reticent than take on the hard questions of the day. In fact, many Christian denominations are sanctioning gay marriage and even appointing homosexual clergy. The Hispanic community is growing at incredible rates in the urban centers of the United States and the world. In fact, the Assemblies of God owes its statistical growth in the United States to its Hispanic churches. In 2012 the white adherents decreased while the Hispanic churches grew.[42] According to Ray Bakke, the largest cities in the world are no longer having a white and black problem because they are brown and yellow.[43] Maybe church planters should consider adopting this transparency and boldness into their presentation of the Gospel in the cities of the world. At the moment Springfield, MO is 86% white. Freedom Outreach exists to boldly proclaim the gospel and reach the marginalized of Springfield, regardless of race, culture, language, or social status. When Christian leaders are unable to say with certainty what the moral standards are according to Scripture, everything else we attribute to Scripture will also be questioned. The church planter will need to investigate the historical perspective to understand the nature of the syncretism he or she will be facing and discover the most effective and Biblical way to present the Gospel of the Kingdom to his particular urban context. Recently, Brian Houston, the leader of Hillsong, one of the largest and most successful global megachurches, declared in an interview that his church is in “an ongoing conversation” about same-sex marriage. [44] After much criticism from the evangelical community, he released a press report stating he does believe the teachings of Paul regarding homosexuality. Christians are commanded to tell the truth in love. Boldness was an attribute of believers in early church. The same disciples, who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested and crucified, were bold unto death after the resurrection and coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Peter denied he even knew Jesus to a servant girl. However, on the morning of Pentecost, Peter courageously proclaims to a crowd of thousands that they are responsible for killing the Messiah. Peter commands the multitude to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and three thousand surrender their lives to Christ. If we accept the book of Acts as normative and prescriptive for the church, than boldness should be a characteristic of Spirit- empowered believers throughout the church age. The final aspect of the Missional Helix is Strategy Formation, which is the ministry praxis for the given environment. The strategy is “the practice of model formation for ministry shaped by theological reflection, cultural analysis, and historical perspective and by the continued practice of ministry.”[45] In order to develop solid ministry strategies that work with the particular context, the church planter should continuously return to the four elements of the Missional Helix. The question should not be, “Does this work?” but rather, “Does this model “reflect the purposes of God within this historical, cultural perspective?”[46] The four elements will work together to inform our ministry practice. The Helix Metaphor forms an intentional model for making decisions and forming ministry patterns. The Missional Helix process will eventually become instinctive, as the church planter bridges the gap between theology, theory, and practice. The pastoral team of Freedom Outreach will utilize the Missional Helix as an organic aspect of our ongoing strategy formation and self evaluation.  

5. WHO WILL DO IT WITH ME?

The first step is prayer for the right team. The next step is to find three to five intercessors that will pray throughout this process. My brother Pastor Brian Alarid (founder and lead pastor of Passion Chruch in Albuquerque, New Mexico), Pastor Tony Garcia (founder, lead pastor of Victory Outreach in Phoenix, Arizona), and Jane Bailey (Placer County Chaplain in California) have agreed to be intercessors and advisors for Freedom Outreach. Also, I have begun to make a list of twenty-five potential prayer partners and a list of ten potential team members. “It is essential to note that the gathering process has a huge impact on the formation of the DNA of the church.”[47] It can be challenging to develop a church plant team because there is not much to offer them except vision. It is important to be led by the Spirit in selecting the team. This launch team will set the DNA for the entire organization for years to come. Team members must be in step with the vision and mission of Freedom Outreach. Not everyone is called to work with addicts, criminals, prostitutes and the like. Team members must view those we minister to as future world changers not just another charity case or personal project. This is not negotiable. For this reason, many of the team will come from rough backgrounds; however, this is not a prerequisite to be on the team. In forming a church planting team the temptation is to draw as many people as possible. However, “The secret of any organization’s success is choosing the right people to play key roles…. One of the most important aspects of successful leadership is putting together a group of people to carry out the mission.”[48] Getting the right people in the beginning will prevent many problems in the future. Freedom Outreach can’t afford to have people with wrong motives, pride, unresolved issues, immature Christians or those that do not have an intimate relationship with the Lord. This is true for any church plant team but specifically for Freedom Outreach because we are going into the front lines of the battle where the spiritual warfare is the most intense. Jesus prayed all night before he chose his team of disciples. In Acts 13, we see the believers as a group of apostles and teacher praying, fasting, and worshiping. Then the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”[49] Prayer, fasting, and listening to the voice of the Sprit will be the manner in which the team is chosen for Freedom Outreach. In order to serve on the Freedom Outreach church planting team one must know that they are called to this type of ministry. Also, they must be faithful in at least these three areas: faithful to the Lord, faithful to the church planting team, and faithful to the Great Commission. These three areas are interrelated. Potential members of the team must have a proven record of faithfulness to the Lord. “It is extremely important that teams consist of members who will be faithful to the team, who have a history of being faithful in their commitments and serving with others, and who, like Barnabas, have proven themselves time and time again to be faithful to their brothers and sisters.”[50] Finally, the team member must be fully committed to the Great Commission. This will keep the mission in the cross hairs in times of opposition and difficulty. The essential roles that need to be filled on the church plant team are a worship leader, men’s home director, sound person, financial administrator (with knowledge of grant writing), and a media/ public relations person. There are several specific people who are great possibilities. Dave Vernon is the kitchen manager at Cross Pointe campgrounds. He comes from a background of addiction and in the process of becoming licensed with the Assemblies of God. He is a potential men’s home director. The worship leader must be someone who is able to recruit a band and motivate his or her team to attend practice and serve faithfully. At this point, there are a few possibilities for a worship leader but nothing is certain. We will continue to pray for direction in finding the rest of the team. May the Lord of the Harvest send in the laborers to His Harvest field.  

6. HOW WILL WE EVALUATE OUR PROGRESS?            

The benchmarks for evaluating the church plant in the first year will include whether or not we stuck to our mission. Freedom Outreach exists to reach and disciple the lost and hurting of Springfield, Missouri and eventually the urban centers across the nation and around the world. If the lost are not coming to Jesus each week—we have failed. If our church consists mostly of transfer growth from other established churches—we have failed. There should be an average of at least three people coming to Christ each week. This translates into 156 souls saved each year. This is not unreasonable and should be the low-water mark. At the end of the first year, at least 50% of the people in the church will be new believers or those who have rededicated their lives to the Lord. Other evaluations will include the lives transformed by the Freedom Center, community transformation and outreach. At the end of the first year there should be seven men on track to graduate the one-year men’s home program. Also, many will have come in and out of the home during the first year. At the end the first year Freedom Outreach will be a household word. People will begin to send their friends and loved ones to the men and women’s home to find victory over addiction. Many inmates will begin to use the Freedom Center as their home plan. We must evaluate the state of the Freedom Center often. The Freedom Center is not a halfway house or a mission. The structure must remain rigid and the atmosphere conducive to life transformation. Tough love is absolutely necessary. Men and women who are not serious about going on with God or are causing dissension or confusion will be dismissed from the program. The goal will be to do one “Festival of Hope” per month. This will be a church wide event to help establish a missional culture. The men and women’s home will do street evangelism two to three times a week. The women’s home and women’s ministry will go out once a weekend to search for Twilight Treasures—women of the night who are in bondage to prostitution and/or drugs. Each of the outreaches will be evaluated. If they are not bearing fruit we will fine-tune the outreach until it is successful. The launch team will meet every Tuesday to evaluate the previous week. Evaluations will include the Sunday worship service, the Freedom Center, and the outreaches. When the door closes for the weekly Tuesday morning staff meeting, people are invited to speak their whole heart and be painfully honest. The only requirement is that others be treated with respect and when the meeting is over—we leave the disagreements at the door. Nobody is allowed to have an attitude, gossip, or complain once we leave the room. We are on a mission to snatch souls out of the Kingdom of Darkness. The mission trumps our individual issues. Every three months we will implement the APA Analysis and the SSIK Analysis.

The APA Analysis asks three questions:

  1. What do we need to achieve?
  2. What do we need to preserve?
  3. What do we need to avoid?

The SSIK Analysis asks four questions:

  1. What do we need to start?
  2. What do we need to stop?
  3. What do we need to improve?
  4. What do we need to keep?

Finally, each member of the launch team needs to continually ask the question, “Is our church culture based on the Miseo Dei? Are we the missional church we are called to be?” This mission includes reaching and teaching the lost and intentionally raising up leaders to transform the world. Freedom Outreach is an end time harvest movement that will stay on mission until Jesus Christ splits the sky. At that time, the One whose opinion really matters will evaluate us. May He say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

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Boorstein, Michelle. “In a first, Washington National Cathedral to host Friday Muslim prayer service”. Washingtonpost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-a-first-washington-national-cathedral-to-host-regular-friday-muslim-prayer/2014/11/10/53d3425e-6916-11e4-9fb4-a622dae742a2_story.html (accessed November 14, 2014)

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Thompson, Allan. What Salvation Is. Bradenton, FL: Booklocker.com, Inc., 2014. Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. http://healthyamericans.org/reports/drugabuse2013/ (accessed November 12, 2014).

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Rheenen, Gailyn. “MR #25: From Theology to Practice: The Helix Metaphor.” Missiology.org. http://www.missiology.org/?p=203 (accessed November 10, 2014).

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Judges 2:16 (NIV) [5]

U.S. Census Bureau. “How Many People Live in Springfield in 2013 and 2014”. Suburbanstats.org. (accessed November 14, 2014). [6]

Mike Landis. “Missouri Will Likely Remain Nations ‘Meth Capital’ in 2013”. Ky3.com. (accessed November 16, 2014). [7]

Trust for America’s Health. “Missouri has the Seventh Highest Drug Overdose Mortality Rate in the Nation”. Healthyamericans.org. (accessed November 12, 2014). [8]

Lindsay Clein. “Heroin Use on the Rise in Springfield”. Ozarksfirst.com (accessed October 7, 2014). [9]

Stephen Herzog. “Police identify victims in triple homicide”. newsleader.com (accessed November 17,2014). [10]

Missouri Department of Corrections. “Missouri Reentry Process”. doc.mo.gov. (accessed November 17,2014). [11]

McCormack, Simon. “The Most Violent Small Cities In America: Law Street.” Huffingtonpost.com. (accessed November 21,2014). [12]

Onboard Information. “65806 Zip Code Detailed Profile”. city-data.com. (accessed November 15, 2014). [13]

Tim Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012). 135. [14]

Acts 2:42 (NIV) [15]

Missio Dei Life 2014. “Philosophy of Ministry”. Missiodeilife.org. (accessed November 15,2014). [16]

Ray Bakke, A Theology as Big as the City (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1997), Kindle location 533. [17] Acts 2:4 (NIV). [18] 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV). [19] Judges 6-8 (NIV). [20] Allan Thompson, What Salvation Is (Bradenton, FL: Booklocker.com, Inc., 2014), 135-45. [21] Isaiah 55:9 (NIV). [22] Luke 7:47 Contemporary English Version [23] Philippians 1:21 (NIV). [24] Luke 2:52 (NIV). [25] Luke 2:52 (NIV). [26] Mathew 28:19 (NIV). [27] Mark 10:45 (NIV). [28] Church of the Highlands. “Dream Team”. churchofthehighlands.com (accessed November 12, 2014). [29] Mark 16:15 (NIV). [30] Psalms 71:8 (NIV). [31] I Corinthians 10:31 (NIV). [32] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” Missiology.org (accessed November 2,2014). [33] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [34] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “MR #25: From Theology to Practice: The Helix Metaphor.” www.missiology.org (accessed November 10, 2014). [35] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [36] Ray Bakke, A Theology as Big as the City (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1997), kindle location 67. [37] Meredith MacKenzie. “Washington National Cathedral Bells Peal Today in Celebration of Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Rulings”. Nationalcathedral.org (accessed November 14,2014). [38] Michelle Boorstein. “In a first, Washington National Cathedral to host Friday Muslim prayer service”. washingtonpost.com (accessed November 14,2014). [39] 2 Chronicles 33:7 (NIV). [40] 1 John 4:3 (NIV). [41] Wilfredo De Jesus, interviewed by Mark Hausfeld and seminary class, Chicago, IL, October 22, 2014. [42] Rodgers, Darin. “Assemblies of God 2013 Statistics Released.” Virtueonline.org. (accessed November 2, 2014). [43] Mark Huasfeld, “Christ’s Missionary Method” (lecture, Maranatha Assembly of God, Chicago, Illinois, October 20,2014). [44] Michael Paulson. “Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage.” nytimes.com (accessed November 11, 2014). [45] Van Rheenen, “MR #26: The Missional Helix: Example of Church Planting.” [46] Ibid. [47] Martin Robinson, Planting Mission Shaped Churches Today (Monarch, 2006) 67. [48] Fred Smith, LearningtoLead: Bringing Out the Best in People, Carol Stream, IL:Word, 1986) 93. [49] Acts 13:2 (NIV). [50] J. D. Payne, The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012), 64.

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