Monday, November 20, 2017

What happened to the Penrose Project? Part 2

In order to complete the lease of the property, a law would have to be passed through the Board of Alderman and signed by the mayor. The bill was submitted by our alderman and passed through the board vote. When I got the paperwork, I noticed that the original proposed lease document had been passed and signed. I asked why they changed their minds only to find out they submitted the wrong bill. They quickly submitted a repeal and replace bill (Board Bill 304) which included the correct version of the lease with the shorter term and oversight board requirements. That bill also passed the Board and was signed by the mayor and all required parties.

We were full speed ahead and very excited. We had hundreds of volunteers lined up. It was spring break time and the weather was cooperating. All we needed were the keys. We insured the building, as was required by the lease terms and asked for the keys. We were told it would only take a few days. We started working on the outside of the building. We were cleaning, landscaping and painting. We asked to get let into the building and started removing the trash and debris. The project was on track and looked like it would soon be open.

As we worked with a large volunteer group one day, we were told to leave the premises. Immediately after this my emails and phone calls were not returned. I still did not have keys but I had a signed copy of the lease and insurance on the building. I couldn't understand what the problem could possibly be. Several influential people agreed to look into it for me. Everyone that did would soon stop returning my phone calls and emails. I knew there was a problem but I never expected what came next.

Approximately three months after the lease was signed, over two years since we started the whole process, I got a letter from the city of St. Louis. Are you ready for this? They didn't actually own the building! They had offered an RFP to sell a building that they did not own. They passed two bills through the Board of Alderman, had both signed by the mayor, signed and executed a lease with us, supplied us with copies of all of these documents and did not own the building.

We were floored. We had invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the project. We had weathered all the issues and obstacles. We accepted the restrictions and the shorter lease terms. We arranged for and scheduled hundreds of volunteers. The cost to us was staggering. We had taken on debt expecting to have facilities for expansion. We shut down our woodshop in order to prepare it for the move. We invested labor and money over a 2 year period. All we got was a letter saying the city didn't own the building so the deal was over. The Penrose Project was dead. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

What happened to the Penrose Project?

It was our most ambitious project in our ten year history. We proposed to take a long vacant police station and turn it into an asset of empowerment for the community. The property is located at 1901 Penrose in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis. It sits across the street from Windsor Park. We proposed a facility that would house our woodshop, sewing center, maintenance services and our main offices. We would add to that a computer lab, an audio and video recording studio, a metal shop, an auto shop and common space for the development of art and technology programming for the community by providing the space at cost for other community groups to use.

The City of St. Louis offered the property through an RFP (Request for Proposal) in the summer of 2015. We answered with our proposal and were selected to purchase the building. Over the course of the next year and a half we put hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the Penrose Project. We developed the plans, wrote dozens of grant proposals, lined up hundreds of volunteer hours and spent time and money stabilizing the property. We met with the city building division for the details of the plan. Everyone was helpful and excited for what we were doing.

As the plan came into focus, we took on a couple of private investors to help cover the costs we were incurring through the project. We cleared one hurdle after another. The only hurdle we could not clear was the purchase price of the building. So Plan B was proposed: the city would lease the building to us for 99 years for a dollar a year. We would invest the money needed to improve and repair the building.

Then the obstacles came. The local developer that had written the RFP objected to the lease terms. Then the Alderman changed the terms. Our agreement for a 99 year lease was reduced to a 20 year lease that would have to be renewed every 5 years. Other restrictions were added as people tried to use their influence to take control of the facility. A community oversight board would be required and have say in how we used the building. All of these terms were imposed on the project after we agreed to the 99 year lease.

Our goal was to have a place that would benefit the community. We were taking all the risk. The building was vacant (and still is). We were the ones investing the time and money into repairing the building. There was no guaranty in the new lease that we would retain the building for more than six months. It could be taken away at any time and for any reason with six months notice.

Our Board of Directors considered aborting the whole project. Our desire to empower the residents and rebuild the neighborhood outweighed our concerns over the powers that were souring the deal. We were willing to risk much because we felt the benefit far outweighed the negative possibilities, so we proceeded with the plan.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Origins - Part 4

The first three parts of this series were written in 2006 as I was starting Sun Ministries. Much of what is cited about the condition and operation of the American church is still true today. The decline has increased. Sun Ministries was started in order to facilitate the planting of faith communities (some would call churches). We needed to undergo some training in God's design for the church before we could facilitate others in that work. God was faithful to take us on a great journey that has equipped us to help others find the church that God designed.

The church that God designed has some very unique features. Here are a few.
  1. It is formed, led and operates on the basis of spiritual gifts that God bestows on those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  2. It is led by the operation of spiritual gifts and not offices.
  3. It is unified with other locations through a common bond and dedication to God.
  4. It focuses on making disciples and teaching them to make disciples.
  5. It cares for each other and the community where it is located.
Sun Ministries has planted the first of these faith communities in the Hyde Park neighborhood of North St. Louis. It is called the Church at Hyde Park. It is named simply so that it is easier to interact with future faith communities. It is named by its location because that is the pattern we see in Scripture. This first work is now growing by making disciples and teaching them to make disciples. It is led by spiritually gifted leaders. It shares what it has as we see the early church did in the Book of Acts. 

We now have a functioning model of what God called us to facilitate. We have learned how to make disciples that can make disciples. We understand how spiritual gifts are to operate and leaf the church. We are ready to multiply the movement towards God design for His church.

As we prepare to increase our efforts in the area of our original calling we have discovered that some of our businesses actually hindered our work instead of helping it progress. One example is Sun Cafe. The demands of running the cafe were drawing too much resource and energy away from our ministry goals. It was not facilitating the work we feel is our primary mission. The cafe was also a highly visible expression of our work. We were becoming known by Sun Cafe. So we shut it down. We are looking at ways to make Sun Cafe work for the goals of the ministry. If we can see a way to make that happen we will reopen. If we do not see a way to do that, it will remain closed. All of our businesses are tools to facilitate the spiritual work of Sun Ministries. We cannot invest time and resources into any business that does not support our mission.

So today, after ten years of preparation, we are ready. We are planting faith communities that operate by God's design for His church. These communities are based in spiritual gifts and led by Biblical leadership. They make disciples and teach them how to make disciples. They care for each other and their community. They all work together in unity to support each other and serve the world. I thinks things are just getting started.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Origins - Part 3

Larger suburban churches are seeing their growth as blessing from God when in actuality they are losing ground. According to Barna Research only 1% of American churches are actually growing from anything other than transfer growth from existing churches. In his book titled “Planting Growing Churches”, author Aubrey Malphurs points out some startling facts about the American church. He says 80 – 85% of American churches have stopped growing or in a state of decline. There are approximately 350,000 congregations in America. 30, 000 ceased to exist in the 80’s and it is estimated that another 100,000 have ceased to exist between then and now. Why is the church in America dying at such a pace? The eye has told the hand it has no need of it. What will be the result of this? See what the rest of the 1 Corinthians passage has to say.

1Cr 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1Cr 12:27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
1Cr 12:28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, {various} kinds of tongues.
1Cr 12:29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not {workers of} miracles, are they?
1Cr 12:30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Two things are outlined in this section. All the members will suffer when any part of the body suffers and we will miss a more excellent way of fulfilling God’s ministry. It is with all of this in mind that God has brought me to this place today. I see the warning in Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” I look at the church in America today and I do not see the leaders heeding this warning. God did not say be on guard for a portion of the flock or shepherd some of the church.

So I asked myself “what am I to do”? I cannot sit and watch the bride of Christ suffer. This is where Sun Ministries comes in. I must ask you to stop at this point and consider what I have said. If you disagree with me at this point on the condition of, future of, and God’s intention for the church, you may want to stop reading. If God has not convicted you by now that the church needs help and inter-dependency then you will be following the idea for wrong motives. If you have examined the Scripture and your eyes have been opened or your existing convictions have been confirmed, then you should continue.

What is Sun Ministries?

The word Sun here is the Greek word sun {soon}. It means “with”. It denotes union, a companion or to come alongside. The purpose of the ministry is to come along side the local church and help to strengthen it. This will be a challenging and complex undertaking. Remember what I quoted earlier, no one knows how to do this. We are entering uncharted territory. I believe that God will build His church and that He can direct our steps. I have many ideas on how to accomplish this objective but I must remember what 1 Corinthians says.

1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Our basis for ministry will be the unity of the body of Christ around a core of truth. We will outline what we consider to be God's design for the church. Any church that can be dedicated to functioning by God's design can be included in our network of inter-dependent churches. Our goal is to provide all support free of charge. Faith communities we plant can request assistance of the ministry in many forms. We will utilize many different methods to meet the needs of these churches. Some of the support ideas already planned are financial assistance, short term work teams, ministry teams to assist the church in discipleship development, training materials designed with disciple multiplying and biblical church function in mind, and service opportunities with other small churches. 

We will be the organizer and overseer of many short-term mission opportunities. Imagine being able to go to Sun Ministries web page and sign your small group up for a short term mission trip that is within 3 or 4 hour drive from home. You load up the team on Friday night, work all day Saturday, feast with the church on Saturday night and join them in worship on Sunday. Your whole team can be back home by Sunday night. No time off work and the chance to be a blessing to another part of the body of Christ and with very little monetary expense. Now imagine a network of churches using the gifts of the body of Christ in such a manner to organize service events and reach their local area for Christ. When you start to see the picture I am painting here you can only imagine the impact we can have on America for Christ as we utilize the gifts and resources God has given us to reach all parts of America and not just the booming suburbs.

Our ministry will operate through spiritual gifts. At the core of this ministry is prayer. Without prayer we cannot be successful in ministry. It is the power of God. Team building will be an important part of our ministry. The Leadership Center trains and equips our teams and other volunteers for service. They will be responsible for equipping the leaders of our ministry with proper training, materials and opportunity. It will also make and distribute materials made especially for the needs of the small church and our ministry. They will also work with volunteer members to give them opportunity to use their God given gifts to care for the bride of Christ. They will organize short-term mission trips and put into action the priorities of the ministry. It will oversee the daily operations of the ministry



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Origins - Part 2

The model of planting churches today is often to send them out – support them for 2-5 years financially and then break ties with them. Most mother churches do not maintain a long term nurturing and supporting role in the church plant. I do not believe that God intended the church to operate this way. In Romans chapter 12 we find a discussion of how God planned for the church to operate.

Rom 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,
Rom 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Rom 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
Rom 12:7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;
Rom 12:8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Rom 12:9 {Let} love {be} without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Rom 12:10 {Be} devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Rom 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
Rom 12:13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

The picture the Bible gives us is one of an inter-dependent church sharing our gifts, prayers, and resources as God has given them to us. The church was meant to function as an organism that utilizes all the members and all the gifts in an inter-dependent relationship. The modern American church has dissected the body of Christ and turned its focus on itself. Planting new churches will only delay the repeat of the problems we already see. Church planting is not the solution to the problems faced by the American church. If the attitude of the church is not changed then we are still not operating as God designed and our failure will be just as sure to happen in the future.

Can leadership fix the American church? It can help. In order to help it must be Biblical leadership. This leadership is not to be confused with secular leadership. This leadership would examine the Scripture and see the division of the church in America for what it is – sin. This Biblical leadership would step up without fear of consequence and turn the focus outside their walls to the local churches around them. Take for example this passage in 1 Corinthians.

1Cr 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1Cr 12:12 For even as the body is one and {yet} has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1Cr 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1Cr 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

It is clear here that church walls do not separate the body of Christ. I am not promoting an ecumenical approach or a one church movement. There must always be unity around essential truth. What is clear today is that very little concern is shown from one church to another, even within the same denomination. God says He sees the church as one entity not as individual churches. If we only take care of one part of the body, have we really cared for the bride of Christ? Look further in 1 Corinthians.

1Cr 12:15 If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body.
1Cr 12:16 And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body.
1Cr 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
1Cr 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
1Cr 12:19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?

1Cr 12:20 But now there are many members, but one body. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Origins - Part 1

What follows is based on the original vision document I wrote in 2006 when starting Sun Ministries. As I look back over the last ten years I have realized that I have gotten sidetracked a bit with the physical realities of ministry. These realities are a necessary part of our ministry but they are not the essence of what we do. Sun Ministries was being defined by these physical expressions of our work. To some we were the Cafe run by a ministry and not the ministry that was planting faith communities by multiplying disciples. Sun Ministries is now  correcting course to be true to the calling that God placed on my life, the calling that started the ministry. God is calling His people to live by His design. Sun Ministries is here to facilitate that work.

Dr. Terry M. Goodwin

Build up the family of God by supporting the local church. Building community among the church with truth at the core.

Twenty years after graduating from high school I returned to my old hometown. It was a town like thousands of other small American towns. In the time since I left, the town had grown a little. Including the surrounding area the population had almost doubled. I had visited several times since I left but this time was different. I was returning there to live. Since my graduation, God had become a central part of my life. As I looked at the local churches in this town I noticed something. None of them looked any different than they did 20 years earlier. One had even closed its doors and the building was now a day care. I had been living in large metropolitan areas and attending large growing churches so I wondered why were these so “dead”?

Over the next few years God began to open my eyes to some problems with the church. These problems have now become to me what Bill Hybel’s refers to as “holy discontent”. That is best described as the thing that bothers you that also bothers God. When you meet with God at your Holy discontent your emotions are stirred. You become choked up and overwhelmed. Your passion is stirred to the point that you cannot sit by and watch it go unnoticed. You want to run headlong into the problem yelling to everyone “Can’t you see it? This thing is breaking God’s heart.” That is where I am today with the condition of the American church. I am going to now ask you to open your hearts and minds to the plight of the American church and what is being done about it.

The consensus among large churches and large church movement leaders is that a lack of leadership is what’s wrong with the local church today. George Barna has identified this as the number one problem facing the church. I agree in part. The leaders of large churches have turned their focus internal and overseas neglecting the local church. Since Christ is the head of the church we have the best leadership possible if we do things His way and we have not. The buzz for today is to have an Acts 2 church. This is used to talk about the community that a church should have among believers. No where does the Bible indicate that this community is only within each individual church. Let’s look at a portion of Acts 2.

Act 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; Act 2:45 and they {began} selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Act 2:46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, Act 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The word all is used in this passage. As you look through the book of Acts you can see that the churches were very inter-dependent with each other. Inter-dependency is the battle cry of many small group ministries today. The idea of community and inter-dependency has been reformulated and turned to an internal focus in the church. The early church had built inter-dependency between the churches in other locations. The church today has lost that quality. We see churches supporting inner city churches and we see churches supporting churches with other racial make up but nowhere have I found where the church is inter-dependent like the church of Acts.

Take this simple test.
  1. How many churches are there in your own denomination within 100 miles of your church?
  2. How many does your church work with and support in ministry?
  3. How many are struggling under what the church today has deemed poor leadership?
If the only question above that you can answer accurately is number 2 and the answer is none then you can start to see where I am coming from. The modern church in America has answered the plight of the church in two ways. They look to building leadership and reform the church through church planting. Denominations will concede that it is easier to plant new churches than it is to strengthen the ones that remain. The reason they prefer this model is that they believe no one knows how to revive a dead church. I am going to test both of these solutions according to Scripture and see if the Bible tells us how God would have us minister to the church. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Interview with Alex Betts



We love creative expression.  Especially art that is honest and authentic, that connects us to the artist and the world around us.  Many of us at Sun Ministries are musicians, and we have written our own testimonies into songs, poems, and novels.  We have published 4 podcast episodes exploring creative expression.

This year, Sun Cafe has been hosting a lot of music.  One artist has stood out.  Her name is Alex Betts, and she is a resident of Hyde Park, the same neighborhood we work and live in.  She has written incredible songs that tell stories of herself and those around her.  She has a great voice and plays piano.

We want to encourage local artists, especially those we feel are expressing good things in a good way.  We interviewed Alex Betts to get some background to her art.


Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in St. Louis in Hyde Park. I've lived here my entire life.

What was it like growing up?
Growing up was good for me. I got the full experience. I have a big sister and a twin brother that I got to grow up with and I had a mother who taught me well and a father that was there when I needed him. I had lots of friends and I've almost never met a stranger. I loved talking to people and meeting people. I was a little wild but that was just my charm :)

What shaped who you are? Was it your neighborhood, community, education, family, an individual, faith, etc?
I believe all of those things shaped who I am. My neighborhood isn't the best in St. Louis but it's a relatively good neighborhood in my eyes. Church and community always went hand in hand for me because my church is very active in my community. Family was important because no matter what, you always have each other (my mom always tells me that I was born with a best friend). And education was also important. I was never bored in my house because everywhere you look there's a book or a magazine somewhere (my house was like a library). Speaking of libraries, my mom always took the 3 of us to Central Library. So knowledge was never a chore, it was always fun to learn something new. All of those things pretty much shaped who I am.

What is your earliest/clearest music-related memory?
My earliest and clearest memory of music is not really just one memory, it's more like a collection of fragments. I remember singing in the Angel Choir at my church (which was like preschoolers singing), I remember watching my mom sing and play piano nearly everyday, when it was time to wake up for school in the morning, my mom would sing a special song that she came up with herself. Playing music with my family in our living room together in a family jam session, dancing around the kitchen all the time with my sister listening to radio Disney.

When did you start making music?
I started making music at 11. I can't really remember why, but I know before writing songs I was interested in poetry. I liked writing poems that rhymed and had rhythm a lot and I played piano almost everyday. So one day I wrote a song and them I started plunking out notes on the piano to go with it.

Why do you currently make music?
I make music because I love it. It's never a chore to do something you love. I do it because it makes me happy and because it makes others happy. I like seeing smiles on other people's faces and I like when people see what I see (and vice versa)

What inspires your music? What do you most often write about, or what kinds of songs are you drawn to?
I like songs about love. Not the crappy kind, but the real kind you used to hear in songs from before money and sex. I like feeling and sincerity. I like the feeling you get when you've found that song the makes your heart wrench because you know how that feels or because you can feel what the artist feels. I like songs that are fun or crazy but still have a meaning behind it. Like 90s music. I like 90s music. Or anything before 2010 to be honest.

Are you involved in any other forms of creative expression?
I like to dance, but only when I'm by myself or being silly with people, I like to draw. I love to draw, I used to paint, too, but I had to let that go. It gets everywhere. I like making people laugh, and I still like poetry (I need to go back to writing it though), I like acting (but that's once every blue moon). And I love to cook. And read. A lot.

Can you recommend 3 artists or albums?
Listen to Brian McKnight. Just any album. Pick one. Pick all of them. Leslie Odem Jr's Simply Christmas album is wonderful. I love it. La'Porsha Renae's Already All Ready. I've been hooked on that album for weeks.

What do you want to accomplish with music?
I want to open people's eyes and let them see from another perspective. I want people to know that I see them and that other people see them. I want to help people in the way I know best, and that is my gift of music.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Called to Serve God

Are you feeling called to plant churches? Do you feel hindered by the church system from fulfilling your calling? This was me in 2006. I am Dr. Terry M. Goodwin and I answered God's call outside the traditional church system. What I found was eye opening. God took me on a journey and placed me in a position to help others find His design for life, ministry and the church.

I was not raised in the church. I was a thief and a drug dealer as a teen. I met Jesus on the back porch of my grandmother's house after I was released from the hospital for a drug overdoes at age 13. I pursued God in the only way I knew how, through the church system that I saw on every street corner. I became aggressive for the Word of God. I consumed it. I raised my family in the "church". I went to bible college until I got my PhD. in theology. I felt a call deep inside me serve God with all my life. I interpreted this call as a call to plant churches.

In 2006 I found myself facing an unsupportive system of church hierarchy. I began to question everything. God led me through a journey of discovery that opened my eyes to the corruptions of the modern American "church". I left my church of many years and was ordained in a denomination that wanted people to "plant churches" outside the system. That sounded good but the system wouldn't let go so easily. I soon found myself entangled in long standing quarrels that I had no part in. I turned in my ordination and continued on my journey to find the church that God died to start.

In the years since then God has opened my eyes to see His design for His church. It looks very little like the man made religious organizations we see dominating the landscape of America. The church that God designed is led by spiritual gifts not offices. It empowers and releases people to use those gifts and transform broken lives. It starts with people not programs. It is a powerful supernatural force.

Over the last decade God has trained and equipped a small group of dedicate disciples to live by His design. Our calling is to plant faith communities that follow the teaching of the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit to live and minister by God's design. We have been placed in a unique position to have the resources and training needed to facilitate this work in America in this generation. We are now placing that call publicly to any that feel that call, as I did, to plant churches, but do not want to answer it in the current church system. The call I received to plant churches was really a call to make disciples that can make disciples. This is how God plants churches. If you feel a call such as this, we need to talk.


The first church has birthed from our disciple making efforts. It is in the Hyde Park neighborhood of North St. Louis. It is simply identified by its location. The Church@HydePark. We believe it will be the first of many as God accelerates His work through us. The foundation has been laid and God is ready to build on it. I invite you on a journey that will ignite your faith and grow you spiritually in ways you have only dreamed about. If you would like to learn more please email me terry@discipledrivenchurch.org

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Origin of Our Bags

A simple Google search for Coffee Bag Totes will net you over a million results. There are thousands of people making and selling coffee bag totes, purses and messenger bags. So who should get credit for the origin of the idea to make tote bags and messengers? The first tote bag traces its origin back to 1900. This style was popularized in the 1940's. The messenger bag design was used throughout history in such famous ways as by Pony Express riders. It became popular in the US mainstream during the 1950's. All current variations of these styles of bags owe their inspiration to unknown designers that are long dead. They are what is know as public domain. No one can claim ownership or rights to their design.

What was the inspiration for our bag designs? Early in our journey we were approached by a coffee shop that asked us to start making bags for them. We were looking for a product that would help us empower and employ people. My wife is an accomplished seamstress, so she began to research design ideas. She developed a design that was unique in structure and assembly. She made it so that unskilled workers could take part in the production and gain skills as they learned. The new venture was up and running.

Over the last 8 years the design has been modified for improvements and efficiency. The bags we sell today are much different and much better quality than what we started with. We have added products as the venture grew. We now have a small messenger, 2 sizes of journals, wallets, clutches, and have made many custom items over the years.

The reuse of burlap coffee bean bags not only makes for a great unique gift idea but also helps to curb a huge waste problem. Thousands of empty coffee bean bags are thrown into landfills every week. We can only play a small part in the solution to this problem. I am excited to see so many people making bags and other products from old coffee bags and helping to reduce, reuse and recycle these products.

So with over a million search results making totes and messengers from old coffee bags, why should you buy ours? Our bag business has helped numerous single moms get a second chance. All of the proceeds go to our non-profit and are used to rebuild our community. Your purchase helps people in a very real way. With millions of bags hitting the landfills every year we encourage you to pick up some bags from your local roaster, look at what is being sold out there and start sewing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Talents


In the beginning...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

I think God had something big in mind when He created man. Mankind must be some kind of special thing, some unique part of creation. It is the only creature that is made in the image of the Maker. It is the only creature that was told to subdue the earth and rule.

The LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed...The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Man is the only creature that gets life breathed into it. And in this verse, man is given a job – to work in and guard the garden. We come to see that mankind has a very special relationship with the Creator. They walk together and talk together. They share this special garden. Man gets to name other parts of the creation. God does not relate to the oceans or cattle or mountains the same way He relates to mankind.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

King David is rightfully astounded at this realization. This is from Psalm 8, a psalm that follows 7 other psalms that wrestle with the idea of God rewarding righteous men and punishing evil men, and how that doesn't always seem apparent. How can this prized creation be both wicked and righteous? How can God allow for such inconsistent and destructive behavior?

Not only that, but we are told that mankind – this wonderful unique creation – is so important that God clothed Himself as one. He gave up His glorious throne and humbled Himself, to walk in flesh and blood, experience pain, loss, discomfort, and rejection, only to be ultimately abandoned, tortured, and killed – for man. For man who hated Him. So that we could come to know Him fully, truly, as we did in the beginning, when we shared a wonderful garden together.

One day, Jesus, this God-as-man, tells a strange story. It is popularly known as the “Parable of the Talents.”
The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last – dividing it in proportion to their abilities – and then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it. The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money. But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money for safekeeping.

Jesus goes on to describe the master's return and how he responds to the servants. The servant with one bag of gold says, “Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.” Funny that he uses cultivation, mankind's job, to accuse his master of taking things that weren't his, while defending himself of neglecting to cultivate the master's riches that were given to him. I don't think burying the money in the ground like a seed was going to achieve the growth the master was looking for.

Rightfully so, the master turns the insult back around on the lazy servant and then says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away.” And the servant is thrown out into the darkness.

God created mankind in a unique way. We were made to resemble our maker, and filled with His breath; Jesus made the way for us to be filled with His very Spirit. We were commanded to rule over this world and the creatures in it. We are to use well what we are given. We are capable of remarkable acts of wickedness and breathtaking acts of righteousness. Mankind has immense power, authority, and responsibility given to them by their Creator. We have the ability to crumble mountains, to wage wars, to create ghettos, to cheat workers, to destroy millions of lives. We have the ability to save lives, to invent medicines, to care for the poor, to comfort the hurting, to build homes. We can create desolation, or go and repair desolation. We can cultivate the garden, or we can poison it and burn it down. We can use well what we've been given, or we can bury it in the dirt and neglect our God-given ability to increase the Master's riches.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mission Trips


Sun Ministries is rewriting the book on urban ministry. We are setting a new paradigm that will impact the way the church lives and works in the USA. We are looking for like-minded people that feel called to minister in the most devastated and hurting areas of our country.


Sun Ministries is now booking mission trips for Summer 2017. We are working in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis, MO, ministering in a way we call “Pastoring the Community.” We are creating businesses, rehabbing housing, and taking care of the neighborhood in a variety of ways. In addition to work projects, our mission trips will also include teaching and training on ministering in the inner city. Our missionaries will provide testimonies, songs, and stories, along with teaching on being the Church and walking in faith outside of buildings and structures. We are welcoming people who know the Lord and want to use their skills to rebuild the ancient ruins and their spiritual gifts to rebuild destroyed lives, as outlined in Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

The Details
We are booking groups for the following weeks:
May 21-27
June 4-10
June 18-24
July 16-27
August 6-12

Ages 18 and up are welcome. Due to space limitations and the nature of the work we'll be doing, children are not allowed. Volunteers do not need to be part of any sort of organization. All skill sets are welcome-- we have plenty of general labor, as well as projects for mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, artists, etc.

walking and talking. giving some context for the work.

Sun Ministries will house volunteers in our Leadership Center and provide meals through our Sun Cafe. Volunteers will arrive on Sunday, and dinner will be provided. We will provide 3 meals each day of the work week. Most days will be a mix of working and teaching, with free time scheduled in. Volunteers will leave Saturday, after breakfast. You are welcome to bring additional snacks and drinks (no alcohol).


Tools and safety gear will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own safety gear (please leave your personal tools at home; we don't want them lost or damaged). Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are recommended. Come prepared to work outside in the heat (water bottles, hats, etc).

Costs
Sun Ministries will supply lodging and all meals for the trip.

Meals: $115 per person for food (total of 17 meals, and endless supplies of coffee)
Lodging: Lodging cost varies depending on how much personal space you want on your trip. We have several rooms in our Leadership Center and other options for lodging.
2 to a room - $75 per person
3 to a room - $60 per person
4 (or more) to a room - $50 per person

Sun Ministries might be hosting multiple groups and individuals in the same week. The largest single group we can accommodate is 12. The smallest is one (but the individual will share a room).

If you are interested, please contact Jason Calahan at 314-437-3861 or jason@sunministries.org

To learn more about Sun Ministries and our work, please look over our website and blog. You can also download our podcast, The ResistanceRadio Show.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Focus

We have talked a lot about vision in our blog. It is essential to what we do. It is the “why behind the what,” as some people have said. It establishes our core values and directs all our decisions. It affects everything from how we run a business to how we interact with the homeless guy on the street.

So it's very important for vision to be clear. So what happens when you lose focus? Does the vision get blurry?

Ask any one of us, and we will likely agree that this past year has been rough. Our businesses have suffered, our health has suffered, we've had attacks on property and have lost much of our staff. In the midst of all that, we are still trying to run 6 businesses and keep the lights on in the middle of one of the most desolate areas of our city.

God started trying to get our attention about 6 months ago. He generally begins with restlessness – with a sense that something isn't quite right. Initially, we usually chalk that up to a failure to perform. Maybe there's just too much chaos with our employees, maybe we didn't plan well enough, maybe we need to manage better, maybe we forgot too much. But God kept applying pressure. Business would not turn around. Our personal interactions involved more friction. Our worship gatherings became lifeless.

As we became more aware something was wrong, we became more willing to listen to God's direction. He began to tell us that we had lost our focus. At first, it was the focus on spiritual warfare. So He turned our eyes back to the real spiritual battle that we are in every day, and the fact that we must be engaging it with great intentionality. And not just on our own, but together as a Body, as a united group of soldiers following one Lord into battle.

Through this, God was able to turn our eyes to other concerns. We had tried to escape the burden of constant physical tasks. Which is absurd, since God called us to start businesses so we could work next to those in need of hope. So He started showing us how to manage better and how to minister better in a work environment. Then He showed us that we had lost our first love – the making of disciples.

All the work of Sun Ministries began with a call to go outside the structured American church and make disciples that make disciples; to obey the Great Commission and set captives free. But this wasn't a call to add members to a church. This was a call to obey our Lord Jesus Christ, to walk in the same manner He did, to disciple people because that is God's design of reproduction. That's how He wants His church to bring transformation to others. It is a very costly form of relationship, but one that also creates life-giving environments. This seems to be God's pattern. “Give up everything so I can give you life more abundant.” We often fail to see how all the things we hold on to are small, temporal, and meaningless. The holy things of God are immense, eternal, and full of real goodness. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Jesus will find it.

So what does disciple-making have to do with running a cafe in north city? Nothing, if your goal is to run a cafe in north city. But EVERYTHING if your goal is to bring any amount of lasting transformation. And this goes for anyone, whether they are a middle class college kid raised in the church, or a fifty-year-old homeless man who hasn't had a license in 15 years. God was intentional of His design for the church, and from the very beginning, Jesus was calling disciples. He then instructed His disciples to make disciples. And we see this play out in the midst of a church that was sharing all things, mourning and rejoicing together, and utilizing spiritual gifts together in order to build up the body in love.

Man has looked for many solutions to pain and evil. Conquest, Pax Romana, genocide, large-scale behavior modification, social welfare, education, fascism, socialism, communism, democracy, legislation, amendments, and a cornucopia of non-profit organizations. Though well-intentioned, these often disregard God's design for His creation. So what does this mean for us? Providing a job does not change a person's heart. Providing a space to live does not destroy the works of satan in their lives. Picking up trash, rehabbing houses, and publishing blogs does not transform areas long bound by oppression. And if you're just focused on trying to alleviate the chaos around you, you will do little to reform the church.

Discipleship is God's creation, His people, these little image bearers, taking the gifts they've been given and using them to help others come to know the Good Shepherd. It is laying down your life for your brother. Discipleship isn't a sunday school class, or a seminar, or weekend retreat. It is a way of life that unites you with others through the Spirit, and leads people to the goal of becoming Spirit-transformed followers of Christ.

Are you making a place for this in your life? Keep in mind that you are not meant to be alone. The Body needs to make a place for the “least of these”, to build each other up so that we can be united in the mission to make disciples and teach them what Christ has taught us.

As we move forward in 2017, we will be intentional to remain focused on the vision – to bring Good News to the afflicted, to share with them the good things the Father has given us, and to teach our disciples to obey Jesus and go and make disciples of their own.

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If you'd like to know more about making disciples, you can download our free book (or order a physical copy), “The Disciple-Maker's Handbook” here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sacrifice


Has the Gospel of Jesus caused you to sacrifice? In what ways?

Jesus is God. He lacks nothing. He has all power and authority. He has all this in ways we can't begin to understand. And He gave it all up. He humbled Himself. He let go of all of His rights and privilege, His immense power and transcendence, to appear here on earth as a baby. A baby born in poverty, in a stable, and laid in a feeding trough built for animals. Just after that, his family had to flee an abusive government murdering thousands of innocent children.

And then He had to grow up. And feel pain. And experience loss, frustration, disappointment. And we all know how His story ends. Ridiculed and challenged by authorities. Betrayed and abandoned by His closest friends. Humiliated, tortured, and executed.

His disciples had similar experiences. Ridicule, persecution, and martyrdom. Paul himself shares an impressive list of hardships that all came as a result of the Good News (for a quick pick-me-up, you can read it in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

And the Bible leaves us with daunting messages concerning our future and the sacrifices awaiting us:
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first.”
“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”
“...none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
“The one who says he abides in Him ought to himself walk in the same manner as He walked.”

So if we're walking the same path as Jesus, it's safe to assume our destinations will be similar.

The Good News of the Kingdom is inherently selfless. It removes our selves from the center of our universe, and replaces us with the will of God. The Good News is a message of giving up of your self for the sake of others. It is laying down status, rights, privilege, power, for the sake of those who have none of those things. For the sake of those who ignore you, mock you, abandon you, betray you, and persecute you. Like Jesus, we must remove our outer clothes, get down on our hands and knees, and wash the feet of Judas.

So, has the Gospel of Jesus caused you to sacrifice? In what ways? Please share in a comment below. This isn't an opportunity to pat yourself on the back, but to share your story with others so we may celebrate together how God is bringing Good News to the world.



Friday, December 16, 2016

The Disciple-Maker's Handbook



In the beginning, God made mankind and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28).”

Does this still apply to you? If so, how do you do it?

Much later, after Jesus rose from the dead, He said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Does this still apply to you? If so, how do you do it?

We see these two sets of instructions as being vitally linked. When God made man and set him in His good creation, He instructed them to increase in number and to steward creation. When the work of Jesus created the New Humanity, washed clean by His sacrifice and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given new instructions for being fruitful and multiplying. Because this New Humanity is not simply one of flesh and blood, the result of human reproduction. This is a humanity united in the Spirit. Not simply sons of man, but children of God.

So how do these children “reproduce”?

Jesus made disciples. He did not plant a church. He instructed His disciples to make disciples, to teach them to obey Jesus, and to baptize them, and then reassured them that He would always be with them. We are to make disciples. But how? Have you been discipled? Have you made a disciple?

Discipleship is at the core of what we do and how we do it. We know that no amount of money or programming will change a person's life. But personal investment, a costly love, a real relationship, all directed at observing what Christ as commanded, will bring significant and lasting change.

Because this is so important to us, we have thought a lot about it, and written about it. The third book written by Dr. Terry Goodwin is “The Disciple-Maker's Handbook.” His first book, “Disciple Driven Church” could be summarized as “what not to do”, and the second book, “Being the Church” could be summarized as “what to do.” This book could be summarized as “how to do what to do.” It is a guide for how to prepare yourself to make a disciple, and teach that disciple to make a disciple. It realigns our focus concerning “church growth” away from increasing numbers of attendees, and puts it on to our responsibility to obey Christ's commands to make disciples, teach them, and baptize them.

You can download a free pdf of the book, or buy a physical copy, in our online store. What follows is an excerpt from the book.

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What is the Christian Life? It appears that the farther we get from the death and resurrection of Jesus, the more difficult this question has become to answer. Modern teachers and evangelists have distorted and maligned the basic purpose of the work of Jesus on the cross. The work of Jesus stands as the means to reconcile man to God. There is no other way to make this happen. Jesus paid the price to repair what was broken.

Once we realize this and accept His sacrifice by faith, we obtain the right to become children of God - John 1:12. What is often missed in today's church circles is that God is building something that only He can build. God is building a bride for His son Jesus. This bride does not consist of those that attend a service on a set day of the week at a building we call the church. This bride is built through the power and presence of God's Spirit. This bride must operate by God's design. This bride must be built by God's design.

What is God's design for building the church, Christ's bride? God has given us ample instruction of how the church is designed to gather, function and be led. In today's modern organized religion, many rely on the structure of the organization to make disciples. No such structure is outlined in scripture and the responsibility for making disciples is only commanded of the disciples. When we delegate the task to others, we miss out on God's chief means by which He builds the bride of Christ, His church. Only by returning to God's design for making disciples and building the church will we ever participate in the goal of redemption.

We must study the Great Commission in order to understand this process and apply it to our lives. We will never accidentally make disciples. We must prepare ourselves to make disciples. We must discipline ourselves to make disciples. We must first learn to be a disciple if we want to make disciples. This can all sound like hard work and it may be. This might be why the modern religious institutions focus on making converts or church members. We are never commanded by Christ to make converts or church members.

In Matthew 23:15 Jesus condemns the Pharisees for making converts and teaching them to be like themselves. God wants us to make disciples His way. He has not given us the green light to teach them whatever we want. We are to teach disciples to seek and follow Jesus, not our leaders or ourselves.

In order to go and make disciples we must first "BE" a disciple. Whose disciple are you? Are you a disciple of Jesus or someone else? Many people have accepted Christ by faith but have never been discipled. You teach what you know but you reproduce what you are. Do not fall into the same trap the Pharisees fell into. Don't convince yourself that you are making disciples and end up making them into followers of man.

What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? You must define what a disciple is before you can make one or even be one. The best place to find the definition of a disciple is by looking to the one that commanded you to make them. This is what Jesus said about being His disciple.

[Luke 14:26] "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

[Luke 14:27]27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. ...

[Luke 14:33] "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

By Jesus' own words, we must love nothing above Him, even our own lives. We must be willing to suffer for His cause. We must also give up all of our own possessions. Do you meet His requirements? If you do then He says you will bear much fruit and prove to be His disciple - John 15:8.

In order to be a disciple of Jesus we must sacrifice. To become like Christ is to do what He did. Jesus had everything. He gave it all up to come here to people that had nothing and no hope. He served us and died for us so we could live forever with Him and share in everything. This is what Jesus did. We should do as He did. This is the Gospel.

The Goal of disciple-making is to bring believers to spiritual transformation and full maturity in Christ as they learn to follow Him in obedience and love. This must result in believers gathering together and living sacrificially together for others. These gathered disciples must learn to walk in both the physical and spiritual realms. This will result in the church being the supernatural, self-sacrificing, manifestation of God on earth. This is the bride that Jesus will return to claim! Disciples are meant to live like Christ, act like Christ, love like Christ and value what Christ valued. The church will display Christ to the world when this happens.

Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus gave a task to the remaining 11 disciples. This task is referred to as the Great Commission. In it, Jesus was giving instructions to His followers as to what they were to do after His departure. They are His final words to them and have great significance for us, especially as those who are called to continue their apostolic work (John 17:20-21). To study the Great Commission is to study the task to which we have been called by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you agree that the Great Commission is the mission of the Christ follower? Do you believe it is as relevant today as it was in the days in which He spoke it to the eleven?

If we really believe the Great Commission is the mission given to the Christ follower by our Lord and Savior, and if we believe it was not an option but a command, then we must commit ourselves to know it, understand it, own it, preach it, live it, and above all do it. Anything less dishonors it and the One Who gave it.

Therefore, a vital question to ask yourself as a Christ follower is: “Do I have a personal, specific, and intentional strategy to make disciples in my own life?”

Jesus not only laid down the challenge of what we were supposed to do in order to win the world, He lived it out personally. Notice how He spent His three years of public ministry.
  • He preached and ministered to the crowds (the multitudes).
  • He taught and deployed the convinced (the “seventy”).
  • He trained and challenged the committed (the “twelve”).
  • He focused on and mentored the core (the “three”).


Jesus knew that though there was a time and place to teach and preach to the larger numbers of people, the success or failure of His movement would be in the hands of the smaller numbers. This strategic investment in individual people through organic, lifestyle discipleship was the key to the continuation of Jesus’ message and the establishment of His kingdom.


Question: If this was the strategy that Jesus used, commanded, empowered, and authorized, why would we use any other? 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Being the Church



So what do you do when your experience and observations of faith don't add up to what you see in Scripture, or what you hear about happening overseas, or on the “front lines” of ministry, or the stories involving “heroes” of the faith? We have found ourselves in that place at one time or another, which is what led us on the path of looking for something more. That path finally led us to living the Gospel (to the best of our ability) here in north St. Louis.

In answering the call to live by God's design, make disciples, and minister in broken places, our flesh has been challenged and our understanding stretched. We have come to the place where faith is necessary, where we are truly interdependent, where our reasonings and strength consistently prove to be insufficient. This is a good place to be. You can't accept a gospel of grace by striving to be good. You can't love if you are not humbled. You can't know an invisible God by memorizing His biography, but only by walking with Him, listening to His voice, and obeying.

While we know we don't know everything, we are sure that God has called us to this work, and that part of this work is rediscovering God's patterns for the church – this supernatural body present here on the earth. We've been trying to find ways to communicate this, and so we started writing books. Dr. Terry Goodwin, our executive director, has written three books. The first we've already covered. The second is called “Being the Church: Planting faith communities in a post-modern world.” While “Disciple Driven Church” is a book about history and a discussion of hurtful practices, “Being the Church” is a guide to what we can start doing. It is also a collection of stories and vision from living this out in a place that has long been abused and oppressed.

Below are some excerpts from the book. You can download it for free, or purchase a physical copy, in our online store.

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There is a movement happening during our current age. Look around you. God is calling people out of the man made structure of religion that calls itself the church. The structured church organization maligns, labels and ridicules the movement. They don't see what God is doing. They call some of them the "Dones" and others are labeled as bitter or church haters. Don't be fooled by the name callers. This movement is a work of God. He is setting His children free from a religious system born out of pagan practices. He is returning them to their rightful place as stewards of His creation. It is in this position of God-given authority, working through God-given methods and power, that the church of God will once again transform the known world.

When the church functions by its design, it is the most powerful force on earth. It can correct every problem and thwart every kind of evil. The idea of a group of people laying down their lives for the common good of society may seem like fantasy. The truth is that even small groups of people throughout history have had huge impacts on society by living as Jesus did. The goal of every Christian should be to become more like Christ. You cannot do that if you do not follow God's design. Jesus knew this and communicated it in John 5:19 - "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner."

I am a full believer in a simple Gospel of sola scriptura - sola fide - sola gracia. The truth I see in Scripture is that works are not required for our salvation. I also see the truth that our Salvation is not the only goal of the Gospel. There is a much bigger result desired by God. He designed the Gospel to produce His desired result. If we lose sight of the desired result, we will settle for a weaker, partial Gospel. God desires the Gospel to produce a royal priesthood zealous for good works. He desires the Gospel to produce a functioning body of believers that lives together by His design, set apart from the world and united by the Holy Spirit. This priesthood will fulfill the covenant of Adam as it is fruitful, multiplies, stewards and rules over God's creation.

In order to "Be the Church" we must be seeking the things of God. If we seek His ways we will find His ways. The hard part about finding God's ways is that He expects us to live his ways and obey His commands. Consecration is the process of setting ourselves apart from the things of the world and the ways of the world. One visible quality of the church should be that it lives differently than the rest of the world. It lives supernaturally. It does not live under the same priorities as the rest of the world. It does not seek the same things as the rest of the world. Its value system is God's value system. Jesus instructs His disciples to seek the Kingdom first. In order to "Be the Church" we must be set apart. The primary method that is outlined in scripture to accomplish this process is discipleship. If you go back to scripture you will see that we are never instructed to go and start churches. We are commanded to go and make disciples.

We didn't have to go start a church or grow a church. We had to Be the Church! We had to do for others what Jesus did for us. We had to give up everything and lay down our lives for others. What a great concept. Think of the greatness of this Gospel. As Jesus is proclaimed and people place their faith in Him, they will sell all they own, move to the desperate places and care for the oppressed. If you are the oppressed in this picture you will fully grasp the goodness of this news. Who else but God can compel people to do this?

We had no idea where we were supposed to do this thing God had called us to do. We began by seeking the Lord. We prayed and fasted and responded when God prompted us. It was a very strange experience when compared to how I had done things in the past. It was an exploration with God. In the end, God made it very clear where we were supposed to start. He prompted someone to give us a wood shop in the neighborhood He had been drawing us to for over a year. Once we were there, we continued to walk and pray and fast and listen. God had prepared a place for us to go and "Be the Church". I did not pick the place. In fact, I objected to His choice at first. I wanted to go somewhere else.

When we walk according to God's design we are powerful. We have the ability to change things. We can lift physical oppression through our own sacrifice and commitment. We can suffer and endure for others. We can intercede through prayer and fasting. We can use our spiritual gifts to bring to light the lies of the enemy. All of this is within our power.

Too often, we as Christians place our attention, time, resources, energy, dreams, gifts, and hopes on the growth of a church and doing things the church's way. When that is so, we face the danger that our focus will be on ourselves and we will use the community to grow our church instead of the church to bless our communities and show them how to follow God's ways. When we embrace God’s design to bless our communities and show them His ways, our focus will be outward rather than inward.


People are hungry for the supernatural things of God. They are leaving the institutional church by the thousands. God is preparing to receive this remnant by raising up groups of people that are dedicated to living by His design. The inner cities of America are prepared for revival and renewal. These places represent the worst of Satan's attacks on America. They are filled with neglect, racism, oppression and poverty. These places need God's people to come into them and live sacrificially for the sake of the residents that have suffered in them for generations.