Nearly four years ago, we realized that in order to make any real progress in the war on poverty, we would have to first change the culture of poverty through the power of the gospel, so we launched an active “missions” strategy.
We started with outside missionaries living or working in the community. Then we raised up indigenous missionaries from within the community. We then issued a call to the Churches in Dallas to raise up, commission and send missionaries to work with us in South Dallas. In all of these efforts we saw either limited impact or received no response at all. We don’t count this a failure, merely necessary to the development of an effective missiology.
In the twenty-four years since our founding, we have served a countless number of people through job training, employment, medical services, provision of food and clothing, after-school programming, and sports to name a few. In many instances these programs served as our most effective evangelistic efforts. Many individuals came to faith in Christ but without churches into which we could place them we also saw many struggle and/or fall away. Furthermore, the culture of poverty that responsible for so much suffering remained largely unchanged.
What wasn’t happening was the completion of our “disciple-making” efforts. New converts weren’t being joined to the local church and as such they weren’t being taught “to obey all that Christ commands.” Neither were they learning how live as a new creation in Christ Jesus. Old habits and patterns of thinking remained predominant. A new worldview never emerged and thus people failed to experience the promised freedom in Christ, much less, transform their surrounding culture. Faith may have been undertaken inwardly but the outward person remained largely captive to the world.
What was missing was the local church! Being Christian is a profoundly corporate reality. Without entry into Christ’s Body, there is no accountability, an ever-present danger of error and misunderstanding, and limited spiritual growth. If the gospel is the message, then the Great Commission is the means.
This is why we are so excited about our new partnership with Koinonia Christian Church in Arlington. Koinonia is committed to not just providing opportunities for their congregants to “serve poor people” but to building up the Church among the poor thereby building for the kingdom. This means going to “make disciples,” followed by baptizing them into the community of God’s people, where they can learn in community to obey all that Christ commands and history demonstrates that this is how God is changing the world!
If your church is interested in partnering to truly serve the poor in South Dallas then let’s talk!