The Missional Helix is an intentional strategy for ministry formation and an essential component of successful church planting. Developing 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 understandings and a vision of God’s will within their cultural context”. 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. In this paper I will use the Missional Helix to develop a strategy to reach northern Springfield, Missouri with the good news of Jesus Christ through a church plant, residential discipleship homes and community outreach.
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”. 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 church exists to glorify God by enjoying Him and calling all the peoples of the world to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is a missionary book revealing God’s plan of redemption in history through Jesus Christ. The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His Kingdom. The theme of Kingdom is woven throughout the Old and New Testament. “The Bible tells this story of an advancing Kingdom, the mission of the triune God: providing redemption, finding the lost, and then using them to mediate kingdom blessings to those yet lost.” The Old Testament reveals the failures of Israel and the futility of the human race to live for God until Jesus Christ comes to break the power of sin in the believer’s life. Throughout Scripture we see the world is for the favorite, the rich and the powerful; but God is on the side of the underdog.
God’s chosen instrument to bring deliverance to his captive people was Moses.
Moses was born into a Hebrew family but through divine intervention is adopted into the house of Pharaoh as a baby. He grows up as a prince in Egypt and got the best education available at the time— trained at the Harvard and West Point of his day. “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds.” His adopted grandfather, Pharaoh, was considered a god. He was a member of the most powerful family in the most powerful nation of his day. At age forty Moses chooses to be identified with his captive people and knows he is called to set them free. In fact Moses looks like the deliverer; however, God sees a proud, self-sufficient man who needs to have complete dependence upon God. In his zeal to bring justice to his people, he kills an Egyptian. The penalty for killing an Egyptian is death. Pharaoh finds out and tries to kill Moses, so he flees as a fugitive to the desert. He spent the next 40 years on the backside of the desert caring for sheep and goats. This was a humbling situation for Moses, as the Egyptians despise shepherds. God used the next forty years to work out humility in the life of Moses. “God reserves the greatest victories for the vessels that have known the greatest brokenness.” God’s priority in the lives of his people is fruitfulness rather than comfort. Through the prophet Isaiah God said, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” This time in the desert was Moses’ furnace of affliction and training ground.
It is a Biblical principal that God delays His promises and uses desert experiences to prepare His man/ woman for the greatest victory of their lives. After forty years on the backside of the desert, Moses’ dream of being a mighty deliverer had died. Now eighty years old, Moses was not much to look at from a human perspective. After the dream to be a mighty deliverer was not only unlikely but dead, God looks down and sees potential in this underdog. Out of obscurity arises Moses—God’s champion. God uses Moses and by mighty signs and wonders he delivers the Hebrews from captivity. God intervenes in history to preserve the people from whom the Messiah would come.
God chooses the unlikely and unqualified because then he alone gets the glory. Sometimes God’s heroes have gone through much pain in preparation for their call. In his classic work, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer states, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” God’s raising up the underdog is a common theme throughout scripture— for example: Joseph, the prisoner; Rahab, the prostitute; Jephthah the son of a prostitute. God is not necessarily interested in increasing our giftings and abilities to the point where we are fit for the task to which He has called us. He is more interested in getting His servants to the point where they realize their own lack and inability to do what He has called them to do. When Moses was great in his own eyes, God could not use him. However, after forty years of preparation in the “furnace of affliction” Moses comes to an end of himself and only then is he ready.
The promised Messiah and King of heaven and earth did not enter earth in pomp and grandeur. The gospel of Luke portrays the humble surroundings associated with the birth of Jesus. In Luke’s portrayal of the birth of Jesus attention is given to Mary and the shepherds who were told by angels that the Messiah was born. The emphasis upon a woman and despised shepherds would have shocked the reader of that day. The account of Jesus humble birth is consistent with the rest of Luke’s gospel. “For the focus is on those who were least expected to be recipients of God’s salvation: the powerless, the poor, the sinners and the outcasts.” Another example of the emphasis on the social outcasts and the powerless is apparent when contrasting the Beatitudes of Mathew and Luke. Mathew’s gospel declares, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” However, Luke states, “Blessed are you who are poor.” For Luke, the message of Jesus focuses on the economically and socially poor. The first century society regarded the rich as those blessed by God while the poor were supposedly outside of God’s favor. Jesus included those who were excluded by society.
Jesus begins His ministry by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 which expresses that His ministry would include the poor, the prisoner, the blind and the oppressed. Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth, the city where he was raised, and stood up to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He deliberately found a specific passage and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus touched the leper and paralytic. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He offered the free gift of salvation to those who were least expected to receive divine favor—a sinful woman, a tax collector, and a criminal that was executed next to him on the cross. “The world of the 1st century, like the world of the 21st century, based its security on certain things: human commodities, social status, family and ethnic ties, power and human accomplishment. Jesus challenged the human tendency to find security in such things.” Reliance on wealth and social status is the problem. Some wealthy and powerful people were also followers of Jesus. The Lord’s offer of forgiveness and salvation was for all regardless of their social or economic status.
In Luke 15 Jesus offers a defense of His gospel to the outcast. This follows after the parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24 which speaks of the entrance of the outcasts into the kingdom and the exclusion of the religious elite. In Luke 15:1-2, the religious leaders of the day ridiculed Jesus because He sat down to eat with the outcasts of society. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Table fellowship is a serious matter anywhere in the world and this is especially true in the Middle East. To invite someone to a meal was a great honor. “It was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood, and forgiveness; in short, sharing a meal meant sharing life.” In the East at this time, much like today, a nobleman may pay to feed the poor and hungry but he would not sit down to eat with them. The religious leaders were scandalized by the fact that Jesus sat down to eat with blatantly immoral people. The religious leaders thought, “If He (Jesus) is who He claims to be, he would be with us instead of these scoundrels because we are the religious leaders of this community.” Jesus shares three parables in response to the complaints of the Pharisees: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the gracious father. “Jesus underscores the joy of finding something precious that has been lost.” Jesus attracts sinners while the Pharisees are too self-righteous to associate with them. According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.
In the first two parables, Jesus uses the examples of a shepherd and a woman— two of the second class citizens of the day. “Together the three parables form a tightly knit unit with a single, strongly Lukan theme—God’s love for outcasts and sinners.” The first parable deals with a shepherd who lost a sheep. In the Old Testament the figure of a shepherd was a noble symbol. Moses and King David were shepherds and God is considered a shepherd in Psalm 23. However, in the 1st century Jewish society shepherds were part of a proscribed trade. They were considered unclean. “For the Pharisee, a ‘sinner’ was either an immoral person who did not keep the law or a person engaged in one of the proscribed trades, among which was herding sheep.” Jesus addressed the parable to the Pharisees and states, “Which one of you?” This would have been offensive to the Pharisees to be referred to as a shepherd. Jesus points out that a shepherd will search for a lost sheep until he finds it. The lost sheep of Israel are being found. The second parable deals with a woman who loses a coin in her house. The village woman searches diligently until she finds the coin. Again there is much rejoicing over the lost coin that is found. Jesus intimates that the Pharisees should rejoice that lost sinners are found. In both cases there is much rejoicing just as there is much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.
The third parable is about a loving father and two lost sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father grants his request. The younger son converts his inheritance into cash and heads for a distant land. Once there he squanders all his money in reckless living. Then a famine comes to the land and the young Jewish boy is forced to work for a Gentile who sends him to feed swine. The boy comes to his senses, repents, and goes back to his father. The father receives the prodigal son back and restores him to full sonship. However, the older brother vehemently objects to his father’s love toward his outcast brother. Unlike the other parables this one ends with the older son outside the house refusing to rejoice in the lost that has been found. Jesus uses this parable as a defense of his ministry to the outcast as well as an invitation for the grumbling Pharisees, like the older brother, to join in the celebration for the lost that has been found.
The mission of God is to seek and find the lost. Many times the ones that are most receptive to the good news are the outcasts of society. God uses the foolish and poor of this world to do great things in accomplishing the Missio Dei. When God uses the outcast and the marginalized, He alone gets the glory. Proper orthopraxy (i.e. ministry to prisoners, addicts, the poor, and other marginalized groups) should and will flow out of an orthodox Christology. Know and believe who Jesus is and then do what Jesus did.
Every believer has been brought out of darkness into the light of Christ and is commanded to go back and share the good news with those still lost. “The concluding commission of Mathew 28:16-20 places the Christian mission firmly within an eschatological framework: mission is the church’s primary task between Christ’s first coming and his return.” Our only reason for being in this “already and not yet” time period is to make Christ known. In western Christianity many are more concerned more about their family, career, comfort, and hobbies then reaching the masses of lost and dying humanity that they see every day. This is not the model for Christianity that we see in the New Testament. The priority for the church and theology is mission. There is much work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard.
The preceding theological reflection gives the basis for reaching north Springfield. North Springfield is the poorest and most crime ridden of all neighborhoods in the area. The focus of this church plant, a CityReach Network church, will be to reach the unchurched and marginalized in this zone. This will be a church deliberately geared toward reaching the addict, ex-convict, prostitute, poor and other marginalized groups that are sometimes overlooked in Springfield. The CityReach church plant will reach this demographic and then train and equip these new disciples to be agents of change in this community and beyond. God uses unlikely people, in overlooked places to do extraordinary things.
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.).” Springfield, Missouri is in the Bible Belt. Statistics show that 56% of the Springfield population is affiliated with religious congregations. More than half of the adherents belong to large evangelical denominations—Southern Baptist Convention (39%) and the Assemblies of God (14%). Although many residents claim to be Christians, their daily lives do not bear witness to this profession. There has been just enough religion to inoculate from a genuine encounter with Christ. The world view of most residents of northern Springfield is theistic; however, a secular world view is on the rise.
The drug and crime culture is dominant in north Springfield. The culture has been conducive to production of illicit drugs since moonshine was cooked in the Ozark Mountains during prohibition. Now methamphetamines are cooked instead of moonshine. 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. Missouri is also number seven in the list of states in the nation for deaths related to drug overdoses. Also, heroin addiction and possession arrests were 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 or directly from Mexico. Springfield police seized more heroin in the first six months of 2014 than in the previous four years combined. Captain Millsap says, “Our two major issues we deal with in narcotics right now is still meth– and now heroin.” Meth labs in the area have nearly disappeared as “Mexican meth distribution has grown exponentially.” Federal authorities say that addicts prefer buying the more potent and less expensive meth produced in Mexico’s super labs then producing it themselves. Mexico drug organizations are flooding the Springfield streets with their better, cheaper product in an attempt to completely take over the market.
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. This past year on November 15, 2014, three people were shot and killed at a north Springfield hotel. Also, 97% of the more than thirty thousand incarcerated inmates will return to our communities throughout the state. “Each year there are approximately 20,000 inmates released back into the community.” 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 will end up in Springfield. Springfield was recently listed as number five of the top ten most violent small cities of the world.
Since my arrival in Springfield nearly five years ago to attend Central Bible College, I have seen a drastic rise in violence on the streets of Springfield. There have been dozens of violent deaths in that past few months due to domestic violence, drugs, and crime. I have lived in Northeast Springfield, specifically the Midtown Neighborhood in the 65803 area code, since my arrival in town. 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. Also, childhood hunger is higher in Springfield than any other city in Missouri. More than half the students in the Springfield public schools receive free or reduced lunch. There are actually seventeen elementary schools where the statistic is over 70% and seven elementary schools above 90%. According to Byran Klaus, president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, “The unholy trinity of meth, poverty, and domestic violence is in intense form in north Springfield.” The mission of City Reach Church is to engage and transform the culture in north Springfield.
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 a church planter’s strategy. There is much to the famous quote of Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Springfield was founded in 1830 by a Tennessee homesteader, John Polk Campbell. In 1838 Cherokee Native Americans were forced off their homelands onto reservations. The infamous Trail of Tears passed through Springfield, Missouri.
During the Civil War much of the Missouri population was divided in its sentiments. Missouri was a border state which had two state governments during the Civil War, one seceded and joined the Confederacy while the other remained loyal to the Union. Missouri supplied soldiers to both sides—at least forty thousand joined the Confederate South and over one hundred thousand joined the Union North. In April of 1906, only forty one years after the American Civil War, three innocent African American men were lynched on the square.
Horace Duncan, Fred Coker, and Will Allen were forcibly taken from the jail by a lynch mob, including thousands of people, despite the attempts of the sheriff to stop them. The men were dragged to the square where they were hung and burned, as the elated crowd watched the savage murders. The next day, Easter Sunday, brought thousands of onlookers in their Sunday best to view the remains of the slaughter from the night before.  Racial tensions culminated at the 1906 Springfield Town Square lynching. Prior to 1906, many prominent people in the region were black; including, lawyers, doctors, minister and police. However, after the lynching much of the black population left changing the racial makeup for years to come. The black families that stayed stuck together. The Hispanic population in Springfield is less than 3%. Although there is still a lack of racial and ethnic diversity there has been progress in recent years. In Revelation, John states that he saw “a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.” Christ-followers should lead the way in and be a model of racial harmony and diversity. In this way we make earth look like heaven.
The Assemblies of God and several other Pentecostal denominations emerged from another happening in 1906—The Azusa Street Revival. The revival took place at a little mission on the poor side of Los Angeles. It was led by a one -eyed, African-American by the name of William Seymour, a student of Charles Parham. The distinguishing mark of this movement was the belief in tongues as the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The revival went on for three years with incessant meetings, day and night. “The revival transcended all boundaries and brought together men and woman form diverse religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Asians worshipped God together in complete unity. This revival led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in Hot Springs, Arkansas in April of 1914. Evangelism and mission has always been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. “The second General Council, held in Chicago in November 1914, resolved to achieve ‘the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.’” Today the Assemblies of God is the sixth largest international Christian group and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, with over sixty-six million adherents. Pentecostals were historically outcasts of religious and secular society. “One reason for this rejection was that most of the first Pentecostal churches were planted among the poor and disinherited classes.” The other reason is the Pentecostal belief in Spirit Baptism with speaking in other tongues and the supernatural aspects of the gospel; such as, divine healing and prophecy. Today the Assemblies of God in the United States has great racial diversity. “Its Hispanic percentage of over 21 percent is greater than the nations, and its black membership, nearly 10 percent, almost equals the national percentage.” There is also four percent of the fellowship which is Asian. In fact forty percent of the denomination is non-white.
The prophetic history of the Assemblies of God is nothing short of amazing. Rachel Sizelove came to Springfield in 1913 to visit her family. One day as she was praying she had a vision of “a sparkling fountain in the heart of Springfield. The fountain sprang up gradually and began to flow to the east, west, north, and south until soon living water covered the entire land.” The following year the Assemblies of God was formed in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The headquarters was first started in Ohio, then moved to St. Louis, Missouri until it finally moved to its permanent location in Springfield. This year the Assemblies of God celebrated one hundred years of existence. It is one of the few denominations that is growing in the United States with twenty four years of continual growth.  Rachel’s vision has indeed come true. By the grace of God the next one hundred years will be even greater (if the Lord tarry) and the fellowship maintains its historical dependence on the Holy Spirit and manifest presence of God.
In this section I will use the first three elements of the missional helix on myself. A church planter must know himself/ herself as much as he/she understands the place in which they will plant. As was stated in the Theological Reflection at the beginning, the Bible describes a loving and seeking God who reaches the most despicable of sinners and transforms them into vessels of honor to mediate salvation and Kingdom blessings to those yet lost. God humbles the lofty and raises the lowly—saving both. However my passion is for the unchurched and marginalized of society.
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 in the Southwest portion of the United States and Mexico. 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 with 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, methamphetamines, and marijuana to the Midwest and East Coast. However, like my uncles, I was continually in trouble with the law because of 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 structured with work, prayer, fasting and teaching. After three months, 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 the director of the men and boys home. 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 there, 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 planned to go 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 righteous 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. In late 2010, 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 twelve credits from completing the MA in Intercultural Ministries Master of Arts program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
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.” 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 unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ with great boldness and evidenced by signs and wonders. 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 CityReach church plant and Hope Homes 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 another church plant—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.
When everyone had given up on me, the Lord came to my rescue. After the Lord met me in prison, He began to speak to me about an army He will raise up out of the prisons of the world to preach the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness and power. Vincent Vangogh, the post-impressionist artist had applied to be an evangelist among poor and depraved coal miners. His application was denied. Van Gogh said, “One of the roots or foundations not only of the Gospel, but of the whole Bible is, ‘Light that rises in the darkness.’ From darkness to light. Well, who will need this most, who will have ears for it? Experience has taught that those who walk in darkness, in the centre of the earth, like the miners in the black coal mines, are very much impressed by the words of the Gospel, and believe it too.” Those who have been marginalized by society: the poor, the prisoner, the addict, and prostitute are often more receptive to the gospel message. Sometimes you don’t know that God is all you need until God is your only option. “The common people heard him gladly.” Truly he that is forgiven much— loves much. My own struggle with addiction and search for the Divine and meaning in life has developed in me a compassion to reach out to those in the same position I once was. Although, many of my friends from Bible School and seminary have taken positions on staff at affluent churches with a large base salary, I am compelled to reach the addict, criminal, prostitute and other hopeless people. I was a hopeless dope addict, but now I am a dope-less hope addict.
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.” In order to develop solid ministry strategies that work in Springfield, Missouri, the team at CityReach Church will 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?” 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 we bridge the gap between theology, theory, and practice. The pastoral team of CityReach Springfield will utilize the Missional Helix as an organic aspect of our ongoing strategy formation and self-evaluation.
In light of the theological reflection, history and culture our strategy formation will focus on three areas: recovery houses (Hope Home), community outreach, and life giving worship gatherings. The mission of CityReach is to reach the one who is far from God and to help them become a passionate follower of Jesus. The Hope Home will provide a place of hope and freedom for people dealing with life-controlling issues and/ or those recently released from prison. The focus is spiritual discipleship and life disciplines. We are currently raising funds to start the home this summer (2015).
The Springfield Hope Home is not just a rehab or halfway house; it is a training center for future world changers—urban evangelists, church planters and Hope Home 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. 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 in the face of 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.” These world changers have nothing to lose and only heaven to gain. My personal testimony is evidence that these homes work.
Community outreach will also play a major role in the success of this church plant. CityReach Springfield (CRS) exists to reach the ones that are far from God. We do not want to grow through transfer growth. The church can’t expect lost people to come to church. We must engage our communities. CRS will impact the community through outreaches: Rock the Block, Live Dramas, Day of Hope.
The most important aspect of strategy formation is to have a relationship with the Lord that is vibrant and active. Guidance comes in our times of prayer and meditation. We must have discernment and hear from God in the formation of any strategy. My journey to start this church began seventeen years ago when the Lord set me free from aN intravenous heroin and rock cocaine addiction and called me into ministry. The Lord led me to come to Central Bible College. In 2010, after speaking at an Assemblies of God camp meeting, an old pastor came up to me and said, “You need to go to Central Bible College.” I had never been to Missouri but the Lord confirmed that this was his will. I came to CBC the following year. At CBC I met and married the love of my life, Hannah-Rose. Several years ago we began to feel a burden for the north side of Springfield, Missouri where we now live. God has opened the door for us to plant a new church here.
I am partnering with CityReach Network (CRN) and the local Assemblies of God district to plant a church in north Springfield, MO in March 2016. My wife and I are fruit of Christ-centered recovery homes. In 1999 I graduated from a Victory Outreach men’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife is a graduate of the Long Island Teen Challenge. We know from personal experience that the Hope Home can transform broken lives. We are excited to see what God will do in the next few years.
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