There Will be No Poverty Alleviation without the Local Church


As you may know, we believe that the most pressing need for those suffering from modern poverty in the U.S. is reconciliation with God through Christ. Why? Because the poverty that plagues our cities today is not a financial problem. Modern poverty’s most apparent symptom may be financial insufficiency, but it is really a cultural problem rooted in the human problem of estrangement from God, self, others, and creation that resulted from sin and the fall.

When these relationships suffer extreme brokenness within a particular society, the inevitable effect is a community bridled with an inaccurate worldview that makes it nearly impossible to flourish or experience shalom. This is why we launched an intentional “missions” emphasis two years ago—to boldly and clearly proclaim the gospel to the unreached in South Dallas.

However, we don’t believe that we are called to operate apart from the authority and mission of the local church. We exist to build up the Body of Christ by offering the local church a platform through which we can, together, serve the poor more effectively by alleviating the conditions that afflict them through the power of the gospel.

Koinonia Christian Church and Senior Pastor, Dr. Ronnie Goines illustrate the way in which this relationship can work best. Dr. Goines has a long-standing relationship with BridgeBuilders. Ten years ago, before Dr. Goines became the founding pastor of the now 4000-member Koinonia Christian Church in Arlington, Texas, Ronnie was on staff with BridgeBuilders as a Ministry Associate. As a young seminarian, Ronnie was tasked with reaching the lost in Bonton. In doing so, Ronnie launched “Ballin’ & Bible.” Through basketball, Ronnie was able to attract men from the community every week where he would serve as their “pastor.” They would play a couple of games, stop the action, and gather while Ronnie explained the Scriptures to them. Many young men came to faith in Christ.

However, what was missing was the second part of the Great Commission: being joined to a local Church through baptism, without which the third phase is severely limited: teaching them to obey all that Christ commands.

God’s strategy for changing the world (and this includes every societal ill) is a simple three-stage plan that has remained unchanged for over 2000 years—the Great Commission—go make disciples (i.e., Christians), join them to or form them into His people: the church, where they are taught to obey all that Christ commands. The result is a new life and hopefully a new worldview!

As an urban missionary organization, we focus on “making disciples” but without progress toward the formation of Christian communities—the local church—these new Christians will likely struggle to grow in their new faith. Old patterns and old ways of thinking will remain dominant and transformation greatly inhibited.

Upon hearing Michael Craven’s vision for BridgeBuilders and our desire to serve the Church, Dr. Goines got excited! He took the idea of partnering with BridgeBuilders to launch an active mission and church plant in Bonton to his leadership team. Their response was overwhelmingly, yes and amen! So, beginning in April, Dr. Goines and members of Koinonia Christian Church, will join with BridgeBuilders to reach the people of Bonton with the gospel, forming these believers into a church where they can grow in their knowledge of the Lord and experience the abundant life offered by the gospel. This is only hope for making poverty history in Dallas!

Our prayer? That the resulting church will ultimately replace the need for BridgeBuilders in Bonton and we can move on to repeat the process in other neighborhoods. This is how an urban mission like BridgeBuilders and the local church can (and should) work together to advance the kingdom in a particular missional context like South Dallas.

Want to Help?

If you or your church would like to learn how you can serve to advance the Great Commission in South Dallas and truly alleviate poverty, contact Josh Conner, Director of MISSIONS.