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The only thing constant is change. Times change, people change, and ministry must change, as well. That doesn’t mean that the message changes, merely the approach. Your ministry must remain relevant to your community before you can reach them with the Gospel.
In 1909 a cutting-edge ministry was one woman, Lou Brisco, starting a church in Park Ridge, IL, and appointing herself president of the women’s auxiliary. Mrs. Brisco brought together people of like minds to start the small Methodist church. She sought out people who would embrace the idea of ecumenism. These are ideals that the Park Ridge Methodist church values to this day. Today, the idea of a woman starting a church is not exactly common place, but it’s hardly noteworthy. One hundred years ago, however, it was unheard of. Nonetheless, Mrs. Brisco recognized a need and catered her ministry to meet the needs of her community.
Now a household name, Josh McDowell started his cutting-edge ministry in the 1960’s when he joined the Campus Crusade for Christ International. A few years later the Josh McDowell Ministry formed to realize the vision of reaching young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It was just the beginning of a ministry that has been a trail blazing maverick. In 1977 he wrote the best-selling book, More Than A Carpenter in about 12 hours. Mr. McDowell has spent his ministry doing whatever was necessary to lift up Christians everywhere. In 2001, four days after September 11, he traveled to Egypt to encourage new Arab coverts in the Christian faith.
What, then, is cutting edge? An emerging trend among churches and ministries is creating service projects that engage their communities. One such example is Jitters, a church/coffee house. When founder Dan Wisniewski realized that many of his ministry opportunities came over coffee at Starbucks, he had a revelation: create a coffee house that would also serve as a church building on Sundays. But Pastor Dan took it one step further. Before the coffee house provided his church with a permanent facility, they met at a local high school’s gym, and while working with the school the church’s leadership became aware of the problem of homelessness among the students. Not only did these teens lack a permanent place to live, but their academics suffered as they didn’t have access to computer equipment away from the school campus.
When Jitters was built, it had ample space for the church and coffee house, but it also had a computer lab and tutoring center for homeless children. Even more, all profits from the coffee house were donated to the local school district to specifically benefit homeless youth. Contractors donated their services and supplies. A local internet service provider wired the entire computer lab for free. The mayor and the media showed up for the grand opening. The school district provided the liaison between Jitters and the youth in need. The entire community rallied around this church as it demonstrated the light of Christ through service to those in need. That’s cutting edge!
Cutting edge means keeping your eyes and heart open to the needs of your community. It is relevancy, effectiveness and impact. How that manifests itself within your own ministry will differ over time, and from place to place. Think outside the box to reach both ministry and community needs. Be like that first century carpenter who dared to buck tradition by declaring Himself the Son of the living God, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead three days later.
About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. Mike Stickler is the founder of The Vision Group, LTD. This organization offers ministries and nonprofit foundations a Christian perspective in overcoming the challenges of raising funds.
Over the course of his career, Mike has published over forty books that have made a difference through thousands of churches, nonprofits and foundations as they serve the world.