BridgeBuilders is an urban missionary organization that breaks the cycle of poverty by confronting the
spiritual needs of the “poor” and resolving the material realities that prevent them from flourishing.
In 1990, Mike Fechner enjoyed the material comfort of a millionaire entrepreneur; white, affluent, healthy, educated, and married. He attended church regularly, tithed faithfully, loved his family, and led the kind of upright life expected of good Christian men. Most would say Mike had it all—spiritual and tangible blessings in abundance—yet he knew something was missing. When he met Velma Mitchell, he encountered the missing "something" he longed to experience.
Velma was, in many ways, Mike's opposite; black, poor, a single mother struggling physically and financially. Yet, for all her difficulties, Mike saw in Velma a trust in Jesus Christ that defied her circumstances. Velma possessed something that Mike desperately wanted for himself.
While Mike and Velma shared a common bond in Jesus Christ, a centuries-old cultural divide stood between them. Fortunately, a teenage boy helped bridge the racial and economic chasm. As Mike began mentoring Velma's son, Romon, a bond of trust began to form. As the months passed, Romon became like one of Mike's own children, and Velma like a sister. Soon, the two began to see opportunities to bring blessing to their respective communities—affluent North Dallas and impoverished South Dallas.
On September 5, 1992, Romon was shot and killed in a random drive-by shooting. Romon's death became a catalyst. The tragedy galvanized the resolve of Mike and Velma to see South Dallas restored and lives renewed by the power of Christ and his kingdom. In 1995, they formed the ministry known today as BridgeBuilders with a singular compelling desire: to join God in His mission to transform urban communities for His glory.
The ministry has grown steadily over now more than 20 years of operation. In 2013, Michael Craven, our current president, reconnected with his long-time friend and former mentor, Mike Fechner, the founder and then president of BridgeBuilders. It was at this time that Mike sought Michael’s counsel as a former businessman/CEO and theologian. BridgeBuilders had, at that time, launched a series of “social businesses” for the purpose of creating jobs for those trapped in inner-city poverty. The concept was struggling to succeed so Michael agreed to take on the challenge as a friend and consultant. The result of their collaboration was “The Good-Works Company,” a for-profit subsidiary of BridgeBuilders that was grounded in a robust theology of work and economics.
Sadly however, Mike Fechner would succumb to his five-year battle with Cancer on April 9, 2014. At the recommendation of then interim Executive Director, Kevin Kyser, along with the strong support of the Board and the Fechner family, Michael Craven was asked to carry on the ministry of BridgeBuilders in September of 2014.
The years following have seen BridgeBuilders evolve into one of the nation’s most effective and innovative ministries in the area of contemporary urban missions.
S. MICHAEL CRAVEN, President of BridgeBuilders
Through a long and often painful process, the Lord led Michael to follow him out of a successful career as a corporate CEO into vocational ministry in 2001. Michael would go on to found the Center for Christ & Culture where he worked for more than fourteen years, challenging the spiritual apathy and theological vacuity of the church through serious research, writing, teaching and speaking. His thoughtful commentaries on the intersection of faith and culture reached more than two million readers each week through syndication on Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, The Christian Post and numerous other media outlets.
In addition to Michael’s weekly commentaries and thoughtful essays, he published his critically acclaimed book, Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity with NavPress in 2009. Uncompromised Faith has been used to help countless Christians experience freedom from the prevailing cultural influences that have diminished the magnitude and power of God’s life-giving grace in the late 20th Century American context.
Michael has appeared as a public Christian intellectual at numerous universities, including UC Berkeley, and various national media outlets such as NBC, Fox News, and CNN, on matters ranging from same-sex marriage to free market economics.
Today, Michael leads the ministry of BridgeBuilders where he continues to challenge the church to think and act Christianly on matters of poverty, urban missions, and the church’s ultimate mission and purpose. Michael also serves as a paid contributor to the Acton Institute, a leading think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty that is sustained by religious principles.
If you’d like Michael to speak at your church or event, please click here for booking info.
We acknowledge one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ, the love, mercy, and grace of God are made known to us and all people. From this overflowing abundance of God’s love, we find our call to ministry.
We proclaim together, “Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus is Lord.” We desire Him to be central in our individual and corporate life.
We seek to follow Him — in His identification with the poor, the afflicted, the oppressed, the marginalized; in His special concern for children; in His respect for the dignity bestowed by God on women equally with men; in His challenge to unjust attitudes and systems; in His call to share resources with each other; in His love for all people without discrimination or conditions; in His offer of new life through faith in Him. From Him we derive our holistic understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which forms the basis of our response to human need.
We hear His call to servanthood and see the example of His life. We commit ourselves to a servant spirit permeating the organization. We know this means facing honestly our own pride, sin, and failure.
We bear witness to the redemption offered only through faith in Jesus Christ. The staff we engage are equipped by belief and practice to bear this witness. We will maintain our identity as Christian while being sensitive to the diverse contexts in which we express that identity.
Many believe that modern poverty in the West is strictly the result of economic deprivation, educational deficiency, or lack of opportunity. However, we believe that material poverty, specifically within the inner city today, originates from a cultural condition and that this cultural condition is a result of the extent to which four foundational relationships, essential to human flourishing, have been broken: relationship with God, self, others, and creation.
The state of these relationships form the basis of an individual’s worldview, which directs their choices. The result of those choices form the culture by establishing what the community will accept or reject, i.e., its “values.” In much of South Dallas, these values are predominantly those of entitlement, dependency, and victimization.
We believe that the resulting culture is oppressive and diminishes the dignity of human beings made in the image of God. We further believe that the mission of God, or missio Dei, is centered on the restoration of these four foundational relationships through the atoning work of Jesus Christ and that it is only by the redemptive power of God applied to these relationships that human beings can experience shalom (the proper ordering of their lives). Therefore, every program or initiative that we undertake must include as its goal, the restoration of some or all of these relationships.
BridgeBuilders is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Membership in the ECFA is your assurance that we adhere to the highest standards of financial stewardship and ethical practices.
BridgeBuilders is a Gold Participant with GuideStar, the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.