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.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The coming reformation?

Most people are familiar with The Reformation, the historical event that nominally began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to a church door. Even that specific event, and the centuries of consequences, had a long preceding history. Church history is not a simple, linear path. Mostly because it involves real humans and a God that refuses to be put in a box. In any case, it is generally accepted the Reformation started with Luther, “ended” at some vague point in history, and now today we have Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants, with something like 30,000 denominations world wide.

At the same time, there is a growing sense of discontent concerning the church. There are repeated calls for the church to “wake up” or “be revived” or get more truth, better doctrine, more meaningful practice, better art, music, and preaching, have more service projects, engage culture better, conserve traditions and values, progress to get with the times, be more innovative, get back to the book, etc.

Did the Reformation end? Is it over? Is it finished? Can it ever even be finished?

We at Sun Ministries are convinced that God is at work in America today, bringing reformation. He is, as He has always done, calling people to Himself and His ways, to declare His glory and minister to the world. This Reformation is not a collection of right answers, nor a more refined process. It is simply an act of surrender and obedience to the Maker of the universe and choosing to live by His designs.

There isn't much mysterious about this reformation, other than the Holy Spirit who moves like the wind wherever He pleases. God has given us His Bible, and His Spirit, and promised to be with us always to the very end. Along the way, man has corrupted these things. He has invented ways of living out our faith. In fact, the history of reformation is one of a repeating pattern: a person or group of people start to see the corruption of the time within the institutional church, go outside the church in some manner and stress values that have been forgotten (sometimes to the point of inventing new errors), are persecuted by the established, corrupted church system, and either the group fizzles out, or mutates over time to look a lot like the thing it left. Division runs rampant.

We have a deep conviction that God has called us to be involved in this reformation. We are not perfect, nor do we have all the answers. But He has been teaching us, both as we gather and pray, and as we lay down our lives and minister in a real world. Dr. Terry Goodwin, our executive director, has written about this in several books. The first one is “Disciple Driven Church: The Coming Reformation.”

Here are some excerpts from the book:

If you want to see the instructions for what the church should look like, you must first see the priorities of a Christ follower. Once you see the instructed priorities of a Christ follower you can then place the leadership structures of God over these priorities to help individuals to fulfill their purposes in Christ. What are some of these priorities? The greatest two are given by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39 as the things on which all the Law and Prophets hang. You must love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the first goal of any follower of Christ. Beyond these basics we are instructed to go and make disciples, care for the widows and orphans, care for the poor, and use our spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ, which is the church. As you can see, the ministry focus of the church was to be both the world and the Body of Christ. Leadership was established to oversee the administration of these ministries, protect the flock from false doctrine, and to equip the saints for these works of service. Over the course of history, men have grabbed more control and have moved the ministry to places of more control. Many church leadership structures oversee and control things that they are not instructed in scripture to control.”

God sees the church as a living declaration of His glory. It is designed to live in the Holy Spirit, be defined by the Holy Spirit, and declare God’s glory to the spirit realm. The purpose of the church is to meet together to equip the saints for the works of service that express God’s glory. If the people that gather as the church do not possess the Holy Spirit, are not gifted with spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit, and do not understand what they are there to do through the Holy Spirit, then how effective is the church? Only as we gather the disciples together does the gathering declare to the spirit realm that God is God. Only as we teach disciples to obey does the spirit realm believe that we truly believe that God is God.”

The call for the disciple is clear. We are to obey Christ and join Him in tearing down the works of the devil. We are to do what we see in Isaiah 61:1-3. We begin by consecrating ourselves first...The part of our life that we withhold from God is the seat of our future troubles...Once we are free we will go and repair the devastated places. We will repair the damage that Satan and his army have accomplished. Through this, we will declare that God has dominion over all the earth.”

We fall to our enemy when we lean on our own understanding. We fall to our enemy when we fail to rest in the finished work of Christ.”


You can download the book for free at our online store.

You can also purchase a physical copy if you'd like.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Have you considered my servant Job?



Our missionaries have engaged in corporate prayer and fasting on and off over the years. We do it once a month, where we fast together and pray over serious concerns about our ministry, and then come together, pray and worship, and break fast. God has moved greatly though this. He led us to our first building donation this way. He revealed spiritual bondages we had come under. And He's brought clarity and guidance to our vision. Unfortunately, we get distracted from time to time and stop doing it. We get overwhelmed by the physical realities and quit. Or, it becomes too “religious”. It becomes a rote tradition that means less and less each time we do it. Then God brings conviction on us and says, “Did I ever tell you to stop?”

It's encouraging to look at what we have prayed for and what has come to pass. Though Sun Ministries has existed for 10 years, we've only been engaging the Isaiah 61 Initiative since 2009. In that short time we've accomplished a lot. And not without set backs.

For example, we are in the midst of renovating a house for one of our employees. We have owned the house for a few years now, and only occasionally would do some tear-out and clean up, or re-secure the building after someone breaks in. This summer, we bought the lumber necessary and started the hard work. And then a string of thunderstorms came. And then we lost one of our rehab workers. And then we lost several other employees, requiring our remaining rehab worker to switch to other tasks. And then the woodshop got an order, pulling me off of doing anything with the rehab. Then several months passed by. We started work again. More rain. More abundance of work in other departments. I broke my finger. We discovered we had bought the wrong lumber. Our generator died. Our air compressor died. But finally...finally...some progress. Some success.

Or look at our cafe. It is a constant challenge to keep it moving. There is so much personal interaction with customers. Equipment breaks down on a regular basis. Employees have crisis that must be addressed. We run out of inventory.

Our property maintenance has all the same problems. And so does the more spiritual aspects of our ministry. We struggle to produce training because we are constantly overwhelmed by physical obstacles. Terry, our executive director, gets pulled into all kinds of things that prevent him from organizing, planning, writing books, etc. We know things we should do and want to do that keep getting put on the back burner because a car got stolen, or someone called in, or a motor died, or the roof is leaking...


There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. God had blessed him and protected him. And satan thought this was the only reason that Job bothered to honor God at all. Not that he feared Him, but because he had it good. Job never had to want or worry.

Satan turned out to be wrong about Job. I certainly don't envy Job's sufferings. Nor do I think I am as righteous as he or have lost as much as he did. But I do think there is something to be said for persevering through obstacles.

A while back our sewer line broke. It was annoying, gross, and costly. I clearly remember complaining to God, asking Him why He didn't just mend the line and protect us from all this hassle. He essentially said, “Everyone else here has to deal with aging, decaying sewer lines. Why do you get a pass?” Later, our cars were broken in to. I again brought the question to God, and He again brought the same response. Even later, someone broke into our yard and stole a stroller. In my arrogance, I repeated the exchange with God.

There is an aspect of trials, obstacles, problems that are just the result of living in a fallen world. There's an aspect that is our fault, dealing with the consequences of our choices (or lack of diligence). And there is an aspect of it all that is real spiritual warfare. Real attacks from real enemies, that God allows. Why? Because it declares who He is.

God didn't fail Job. He didn't stop being who He was simply because satan questioned Him. He didn't suspend His heart so that He could perform a cosmic experiment. And for us, God has continued to guide us and move us forward. He has brought correction and blessing and vision. He has brought last minute provision. He has brought strength and healing. He has brought much conviction so that we may turn more emphatically towards Him. He has taught and disciplined us, all the while being gracious and faithful. He has, in His sovereignty, shown what He can do through our weakness.

Had we engaged this work with all the needs met – endless supplies of cash, perfect equipment, all the necessary skills – it would hardly be impressive. It's like the Yankees getting to the World Series. Of course we would be successful. Of course we would be joyful and content. Of course we would praise God. We would never have had to want or worry.

As I've gone through each day or hour of the past month, I've been consistently discouraged. Mistakes, sickness, wounds, breakdowns, delays. But looking back now and seeing what has been accomplished despite all those things...I am amazed. Despite my ignorance, exhaustion, forgetfulness, and distraction, God has done what I could not. And He has given me a chance to work more closely with Him by reminding me that He is still here and doing what He has always done.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-4

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Second Chance Bazaar



Sun Ministries has opened it's sixth social enterprise: The Second Chance Bazaar. Since 2009, we have opened a wood shop, sewing center, cafe, maintenance services and lawncare, as well as engaging our own rehabs (3 complete and about 7 in the works), hosting dozens of work groups, assisting in and then running the Hyde Park Festival, and facilitating training for missionaries. No wonder we drink so much coffee!

The Second Chance Bazaar is a unique retail space. We offer a selection of second-hand items, including clothes, appliances, furniture, baby items, and other unique finds, as well as a great selection of our local, hand-made, repurposed goods, like coffee bag messenger bags and clutches, coffee bag wall art, pallet wood furniture, and children's furniture made from upcycled counter-top material.

for that bird-loving, coffee-drinking, glassware collector in your life

So why open Second Chance with so many other things going on? We have been making and selling items from day one with no real space to sell them. We've tried craft shows, earth day festivals, and online retailers with limited success. Once we opened Sun Cafe, it gave us a place to show items. But still, that's a cafe first, and a market second. Most people come in to buy a burger, not a table. We've also brought items to trade shows, but that limits us in both items offered and the audience. Having a dedicated retail space allows us to experiment with different items and get real-time feedback. It also allows us place to sell the numerous items we've been donated that have not found a home. We use items for our businesses, our missionaries, and our employees. But sometimes we get useful things that no one has need for. With The Second Chance Bazaar, we can turn those items into income, which means jobs and more ability to minister.


The Second Chance Bazaar is also a realization of our desire to repurpose, rebuild, and restore. We're repurposing burlap coffee bags, pallet wood, counter-top cut-offs, as well as fabric, yarn, and thread that has gone unused. And now we're giving new life to unwanted items, keeping them out of the landfill and using them to build a business and create jobs. We're rebuilding economy in our neighborhood. We've created 6 businesses, employed dozens of people, including over a hundred participants in SLATE's Summer Jobs League. We're rebuilding lives by offering opportunity through employment, encouragement, and training.

The Second Chance Bazaar is now open, but our grand opening celebration will be Thursday, November 3. Please visit our facebook page and give it a like. Stay tuned for give-aways in the coming months. Also, you can subscribe to our email newsletter to stay informed of developments and receive the occasional coupon.


If you'd like to donate items, please see our donation policy first. We simply aren't able to accept all items. To donate, you can contact Suzette Goodwin at 636-544-2152 or Suzette@sunministries.org
donation policy.  click to enlarge.


The Second Chance Bazaar is located at 1500 Salisbury Street, St. Louis, MO.  It is 2 blocks off I-70, across the street from Sun Cafe.  If you can't make it in, you can always check out our online store to see a limited selection of our handmade items.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bricks


St. Louis is a city of bricks. It's famous for them. Here on the northside, we have some remarkable brickwork. The best in the city, in my opinion. However, this is not about those bricks.

Bricks are what the Jews were forced to make in Egypt. It was the fruit of their slavery. Bricks were formed out of blood, sweat, and tears. They were formed in the heat, at the demand of brutal men, to build an empire for the slave-owners. The bricks were made from the same stuff as we are – the dust of the ground.

Bricks were also the invention that led men to so proudly construct the tower of Babel. They built a whole city, and a tower that reached into God's domain, all to make a name for themselves. They made it waterproof. They burned the bricks thoroughly to remove all the water, and used tar for mortar to keep any other water out. Maybe they were afraid of another flood. Maybe they wanted to escape judgment, to show God that they were invincible, they were beyond His reach. Maybe they were saying, “You're not welcome here. We got this.” They built a monument to their pride out of the work of their own hands.

And what happened? God confused them. That's what Babel means. It's the city of confusion. They built a whole city to celebrate their pride, and it led them to confusion. They couldn't talk with each other. They couldn't talk with God. They couldn't understand anything.

Despite what's taught in sunday school and Old Testament survey classes, God never destroyed the tower. It never came tumbling down. So you can still live there. You can still choose to live in the waterproof city, the city celebrating your pride, the city celebrating the work of your hands. You can still choose to live in the city of bricks that shows what you can accomplish without God in order to make a name for yourself. You can still submit to the demands of this city. And once you're inside, you're left with only one thing – confusion.

How do you get out?

Through resistance. Resist the lie that says the work of man's hands will save us, that you can do it without God. This only creates slavery. Resist structures that exalt man. Structures that complicate things, that ignore the heart of God, the truth of God, the power of God to reach anywhere. Resist the desire to return to a safe place, to walls, to social clubs, to seclusion. A safe place where you get all the world has to offer, even if that means you're a slave to it. There is a perverted sense of security that comes with slavery. A sense of comfort in knowing your place, knowing where to go, what to say, knowing what today's work will hold. Knowing the precise dimensions of each identical brick. Faith involves risk. It involves the unknown. It's dangerous. Faith is unconcerned with your strength, but wholly reliant upon a powerful, living God that wants to get uncomfortably close to you.

You get out through surrender. To the King, to the Creator, to the Good Shepherd who lays down His life. He designed a City that is not dependent upon towers, bricks, slavery, and confusion. And in fact, it's much bigger than a city. It's a whole Kingdom. And it's not far off. It's here now, in your midst. And its ways and customs are good.

However, there is an enemy already at work, never taking days off, working harder than you ever will, all day, every day, lying, accusing, destroying, deceiving, and enslaving. All to cause you to surrender to the wrong master. All to get your back bent over the mud, making more bricks. He wants to get your eyes off Jesus and onto your self. He wants to get your eyes off God's truth and onto your preferences. He wants you to lay down the sword of the Spirit and pick up the sword of self-righteousness, self-preservation, hacking away to carve out your idea of comfort and justice. He's painting the walls of your cave pleasant colors so you will be complacent, unconcerned with what lies in the darkness, in your past, or even what lies just outside in the light.

Jesus brought something completely new, and the only way to fully embrace that is to let go of what we've been holding on to. We will receive back from God whatever is His, and the things of God are always the best things.

This is how we will be the Church, God's people, the Body of Christ, alive and moving here on earth. The Church, the people, the holy priesthood, is God's Temple. It is not made of bricks. It is made of living stones. It is powerful to overcome the best attacks and fortresses of the enemy.


God showed what He could do to the best systems and structures of men. When people walk in faith, in obedience, when they praise the only Living God, then even in the desert walls can come tumbling down. Even in the most glorious city, with fortified walls and a majestic temple made of costly stones, Jesus can overturn every last one of them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What is the Resistance?


The work of Sun Ministries is established in the vision of the Isaiah 61 Initiative, which we've covered in length on this blog. It is a work of rebuilding ancient ruins and setting captives free. It comes from the very heart of God. It is a calling that costs you everything, just like any other call of God.

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”

“Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you.”

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross , and follow Me.”

“None of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

“Follow me.”

God called us from our “father's house” a few years before He brought us to the land which He would show us. Truthfully, our individual callings came years ago, through various and conflicting means, and followed curious paths, most likely due to our denial of the call. However, God specifically started stirring in us, before some of us knew each other, a desire to be the church we found in the Bible. We were discontent. We knew God was real, and we knew there were real problems in the American church. We saw a disconnect from the organic, sacrificial, interconnected lifestyle we saw in Scripture.  We knew there was a bigness to the Good News that had been laid aside.  We saw the pain in the world and knew the Church should be bringing the answer.  But this wasn't a call of bitterness and rebellion. This was a call to intimacy with the Father. It was a call of surrender.  He started showing us the cost of love, and how that makes it valuable. He started showing us the beauty of the Body that functions according to each member's gift. He started showing us the power of discipleship – of obeying Christ's command to make disciples and teach them everything He taught us.

We have come to find out that we are not alone in these longings or this discontent. There is a trend, or movement, present in American culture. It has been studied by survey groups and sociologists. Barna.org and Pew Research Center have conducted numerous studies documenting the declining attendance in the modern American church. A sociologist named Josh Packard has dubbed this population “the Dones” and is studying the phenomenon in what he calls the church refugee project. These individuals are “done” with church as usual, but are far from done with God. They love the Church, which the Bible says is His people, and long to see the Bride living free.  Because of this frustration, they often end up leaving the traditional, institutional church.  Some find serving and gathering opportunities, while some do not.

Historically, addressing issues in the church has been labelled as “reformation”. We've chosen another way of looking at it. We call it, “The Resistance.”

We have learned a lot since we first set out from our “father's house” and into the unknown territory of discipleship, sacrifice, and sharing resources. We've unlearned just as many things as we made our way to the “land which He would show us”, a land that happened to be located on the north side of St. Louis. A land that has a well-documented history of neglect, oppression, and racism.  A land which, surprisingly, our families had a connection to.

As we discussed and dissected and developed all these things God had shown us, we stumbled into the opportunity for a talk radio show. Through even more discussion and dissecting, “The Resistance Radio Show” was born. It was recorded and broadcast live on 1010 AM right here in St. Louis. We decided to put our hearts on our sleeves and use humor, satire, drama, music, Scripture, history, testimony, and lots of discussion to explore God's design and how man has diverged from it, and how we can start to make our way back. We shared a lot of our experience ministering in the inner city and the challenges it involved.

We have since made those recordings available as a podcast. You can find archived shows here: https://theresistanceradioshow.wordpress.com/ You can also subscribe and receive the most recent episodes on iTunes or stitcher. Because we're not the most technologically savvy, our oldest episodes don't appear on our iTunes feed, but they can all be found at our wordpress site.

To get you started, here's our eighth episode, where we discuss our work at Sun Ministries.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sun Ministries Missionaries

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 with their whole lives in the most devastated and hurting areas of our country.

Requirements - You must be done with church as usual. We are not planting churches - we are expanding the church that Jesus planted on the Day of Pentecost, This is a work of Reformation. We strive to live by the Book. You can learn more about our philosophy of ministry by downloading and reading the free E-book, Disciple Driven Church - The Coming Reformation


If after reading this book, your heart resonates with our call to reformation and you have had a personal encounter with the risen Lord, we want to talk. We do not require degrees or time at a paid position that counts as ministry experience. We want people who know the Lord and want to use their skills to rebuild the ancient ruins and their spiritual gifts to rebuild destroyed lives, This is outlined in Isaiah 61.

The application process is one of exploring God's call on your life. Start at www.sunministries.org and www.isaiah61initiative.org. The application process will require you to visit the ministry in St. Louis Missouri. This is where you will be located if you are chosen. Sun Ministries pays all basic living expenses, food, housing, utilities, phone, vehicle, etc... You may raise support for debt, retirement, health care insurance and discretionary spending. We will help you with the process.

Our missionaries all live in the neighborhood where we have been called. We operate 5 businesses that provide for our basic living expenses and for us to hire the homeless, formerly addicted or incarcerated. Our future plans are to expand to many other major cities in the US. St. Louis is the training ground for all future work. The position requires you to relocate to our neighborhood. This work requires you to live your faith in the streets every day. It requires a surrendered life and modest lifestyle. Singles, couples and families are welcome to apply. We are building a Christian Faith Community in the midst of desolation.


After reviewing our information, you can send an inquiry email to terry@sunministries.org to start the process. Do not send the Email until you have read the book and reviewed the web sites. If you include a phone number I will call you back to talk.  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Leading with Love

Unconditional love requires us to sacrifice our lives and give up control. Jesus modelled this for us as He asked for the forgiveness of those who tortured and killed Him. He went around preaching and meeting the needs of the people through healing, provision and care. Today as followers of Christ we have been conditioned to preach Law and not unconditional love. Many don't realize this.

When we seek a certain response to the Gospel we add conditions to our love. We do this when we ask others to make professions, attend classes, come to our church or other such things in order to complete the requirements of our Gospel. Many have just created a new Law to follow in order to show others they believe in Jesus. I am discovering that the Good News will take care of itself when unconditional love leads the way. We do not need to add requirements to the Gospel. God is the one that calls and completes His work in people. All of us are incomplete in that regard.

My Gospel must be firmly rooted in what Jesus did for me. As it says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

This Gospel of unconditional love is what changed my life. This is what compelled me to leave the life I had built and do what I now do every day. I am so compelled by the unconditional love and sacrifice of Jesus that I must follow in His foot steps. I must give up what I had in order to go to those who had little that they might know Him and through Him become rich. Some will accept this Good News and others will reject it. It is not up to me what you do with the unconditional love of Jesus. It is up to me to offer it sacrificially and unconditionally.


Dr. Terry M. Goodwin

Friday, July 22, 2016

The problem with religion


Recently a friend mentioned that she was not a religious person, but liked our ministry. I replied by saying I'm not very religious myself. I was trying to be sarcastic and witty, making a cheap, shallow statement to set myself apart from what I assume most people think of when they think “religious”. Mostly negative things.  I did not want to be perceived as negative.  It was immature.  And probably self-righteous.

I shared this story with a fellow missionary, and he essentially rebuked me, saying that I was in fact religious, according to God.

God made everything. He designed it. He designed us to live a certain way. If anyone deserves to define things, it is Him. Mankind will try their best to make their own definitions. This leads to the creation of man-made systems, traditions, cultures...games, essentially. Games with rules that should be followed.

In stating that I was “not religious”, I was validating a human definition. I was essentially submitting to the game's rules by saying I didn't want to play.

God defines “religion” simply and clearly. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” [James 1:27 NASB]

Pure and undefiled. In other words, the real meaning, the authentic version. God's religion is involved in caring for the helpless and being unstained by the world. With that said, I am not nearly as religious as I'd like to be.

This “religion” is described elsewhere in scripture. Isaiah 58 is a great example. It paints a picture of a people living out their own religion, prideful and oppressive, and making demands before God. God defies that by declaring the fasting (or religious work) He requires is destroying yokes, caring for the needy, letting oppressed go free, speaking goodness. Jesus declares that to be His follower, we have to lay down our life and take up our cross (crosses kill, you know). That love is an endless act of self-sacrifice.

Instead of accepting man's definition and foolishly exclaiming, “That's not me!”, I should have rejected it, and insisted on recognizing the definition established by the only Person worthy of doing so.

The problem with religion is that it takes your life. It demands it. And yet the act of giving up our life gives us a life much better. A life eternal. And it lifts up those around us.

The problem with religion is that it cannot be self-serving, but only self-sacrificing. It can never exalt our selves, but only ever bring us low. Religion puts us last, in a culture that wants to put us first.

The problem with religion is that it doesn't have a system of weights and measures to balance our actions so we can remain “right” or “favored”. It doesn't have many laws, yet leads us into a perfectly crafted design.

The problem with religion is that it can only be truly defined by its living. It cannot be something that acts from a distance, hoping to control or alleviate. It can only function closely, intimately, in being near to those in distress. It only really works amongst those in need.

The problem with religion is that it becomes claustrophobic in a world where we all want our own space. It takes our things and gives them away. It takes our time and uses it for others. It takes our emotional currency and spends it on those with deeper wounds than ours. It takes our hands and sets them to work that is too big for even our eyes to behold.

The problem with religion is that it snatches away the things we love to hold on to. It constantly turns our eyes away from things we desire. It constantly shows itself worthier than the things we trust. It destroys little rooms that feel safe and known.

The problem with religion is that it becomes confusing in its simplicity. Complicated things are easier to study, to grasp, to wrestle with. Simple things are harder to debate, harder to reject. Religion is stubborn in its bluntness. It is the immovable object opposing the unstoppable force of our pride.

Religion does not provide a lot of options, but presents endlessly inconceivable opportunities of being lived. It is a narrow way, and a straight way, one that starts in death but ends in life.


The problem with religion is that it is so rarely “pure and undefiled.”

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Interviews with Volunteers




Earlier this year, Sun Ministries hosted three groups of volunteers, consisting of individuals and student groups from Georgia, Indiana, Texas, and as close as East St. Louis. They came through a ministry called CityLights, which hosts groups from all over the country, teaching them and sending them to churches, ministries, and individuals throughout the city of St. Louis. They sent us groups three weeks in a row.

We have several ways of engaging volunteers – from scheduled work days open to anyone, to hosting groups in our Leadership center for a week or longer. But regardless of the nature of their time with us, we very much want volunteers and visitors to understand the motivation behind the labor they're engaging in. It is borne out of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel Jesus preached. Lay down your life, take up your cross, give up your possessions, share your resources, care for those in need, live obediently. We feel that God is doing a unique work here to reform His church and renew the inner cities of America. We've spoken much of the model of pastoring your community, and we are convinced it is the thing God has led us in to. It is also a model whose principles could be taken to other contexts. We do a lot of “contextualizing” for volunteers in order to communicate the idea of pastoring your community. We generally start the time off with a tour of our neighborhood, properties, and businesses, explaining to them the motivations behind our work and the history of the area. For longer projects, we break up teaching into strategic points in our work, using the work to contextualize the teaching, and vice versa. We want volunteers to know why the work exists, but also to go home knowing that they participated in the work God is doing here and helped us care for this neighborhood.

If you are interested in volunteering with us, we have two work days scheduled.  Check our facebook for more info.

I took some time to interview three of the most engaged students from the first of the three groups. Most of our visiting volunteers ask questions, but the questions asked by these groups were incredibly wide ranging, and some were deeper and harder than most. Here is just a sampling of what we were asked over the course of the three weeks:

How do you guard against gentrification?
With all your physical responsibilities, how do you address spiritual development amongst yourselves?
How will you raise up managers for your businesses?
What do you miss most about your former life?
What is true justice, and how do we actively engage in that?
How do you stand against internal pride?
What does recreation look like for you?
Isn't some of this work meaningless?
How do you reconcile things like voting and engaging politics?
Where are your black ministry partners? (and this question we'll return to later)

The questions showed us that some volunteers were yearning and struggling to understand the nature of our ministry and the lifestyle it requires, but furthermore, in my opinion, they were longing to understand their faith and discover how to live that out in the world today, how to resolve Christ's teaching with their concerns and passions.

I interviewed three of the most engaged students to get their thoughts on their time with us. The common, and most prominent, concern of the three students was a lack of African-American leadership in the ministries they witnessed in St. Louis. Racism is no throw-away issue. Besides being a centuries-old problem in the US, it has gained more prominence lately, especially in the St. Louis area.

Josh's Interview

This photo was obviously not taken with an iPhone.  I forgot to get a shot of Josh.

The first volunteer I will introduce to you is Josh Fort. He was the one who asked where our black ministry partners were. Being a young black man himself, I responded with, “Well, you're here.” He was not satisfied with that answer, and likely with good reason. We spent about an hour or so over lunch discussing that question with the whole group, and you will hear that concern mentioned in the other two interviews.

Josh had much boldness, asking us within the first few minutes of meeting us how we avoided becoming prideful and controlling. His boldness, and desire to understand himself, his faith, and what he was observing, led him to ask many solid, probing questions throughout the week.

Josh said, "I appreciate you all's holistic vision for pastoring the community and seeking to develop the community through programs that don't just care for the spiritual needs of the community but also care for the physical needs in tangible and dignifying ways."

Josh explained how the lack of black leadership caused him to question his own ability to become that leader in ministry and elsewhere, dispite a long list of accomplishments and leadership positions. When asked if there was anything that could or should be done to address this lack of diversity, he said yes. “Churches and ministries should seek out leaders in communities and find other minority leaders in other organizations and find ways to work together and serve each other. That racial reconciliation shouldn't look like trying to get other people to become like you, but to move forward in the unity we both have in Christ and serve each other.”

Finally, I asked Josh if he's learned anything. “I've learned that God can work, and accomplish His work in unlikely ways with unlikely people.”


Bria's Interview

Bria had a lot to say, in my opinion, because she had a lot of passion.  When I asked her about her thoughts on her time with us, she said, “Context is really important to me. So, the first day may have seemed really boring to everyone else, but I absolutely needed that, because we had no context coming in before. And so I didn't want to come to a place and feel like I was saving something, you know what I mean? Even though it did take all day, I needed that.”

She said it was very helpful to see not just the buildings we own, but the neighborhood as a whole. She expressed that at other ministries she's been to, there's an assumption that volunteers haven't experienced poverty, or lived in neighborhoods like Hyde Park. However, Bria grew up poor, in Chicago, and has experienced racism. She felt like the expected audience with many ministries were people who had not experienced poverty, racism, and hardship. Because of this, there is the risk on the part of inner-city ministries to assume their audience is ignorant of the realities of race and poverty, and Bria feels like she doesn't have a place in what is being presented. I asked her if there was a way to address this without being belittling or awkward. At first she said she didn't know, but that some preparation with groups to find where they're coming from might be helpful. She also admitted that it might just always be awkward, but it's worth asking. In our discussion of how God is undoing racism through calling people to His design, Bria asked how people respond whenever we discuss topics such as white privilege, noting that the members of her group were not discussing it.



Throughout our time with Bria, she was continuously introducing herself to our employees, shaking their hands, thanking them, asking them questions. This is because she cares for people and truly wanted to connect with and hear from them.

When I asked if she had learned anything, her response revealed even more about her passions, stating that it's okay when you're 100% sure you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, but people don't like you.

Overall, Bria was probably the most vocal and interactive student, and her passion reminded me that I have to be careful to listen to those who have come alongside me to help in the labor.



Tuesday's interview

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to Tuesday Whittington. Though Tuesday was quiet and observant throughout most of the trip, she asked one of the hardest to answer questions, “What is true justice, and how do we live that out in an active way?” Her question was in response to Zechariah 7:9-10, and certainly carried the weight of the pain caused by racism and related issues that have been coming to light recently.

There seems to have been a recurring theme, at least with these three volunteers, of a desire to understand context: to know the motivations behind our work, the way we approach different problems, and really, the root causes and hidden effects of the problems themselves. They all seemed to share a concern for humanity and how best to care for people in the context of the Gospel. Tuesday felt that causes and effects of poverty are generally disconnected from how the church ministers to the poor.


Tuesday also returned to the concern with a lack of black leadership in the ministries she had seen here in St. Louis. All three volunteers seemed to see black leadership as vital to ministering in these areas and preaching the Gospel. I explained to Tuesday how God is using racial tension to bring humility to us, and to those we work with, and to bring to light the things that hide behind racism: pain, fear, doubt, pride, protection, poverty, systemic injustice...and even how cultures affect the gospel and how it is perceived and communicated. These things are present, but seldom explicitly expressed.

Tuesday shared how racial division is close to home for her, as she comes from a racially mixed family. She has seen that the only way to overcome this obstacle is to come together.


My thoughts
In the end, I was extremely grateful for these three young people and their desire to press deeper into obstacles and motivations of ministry, and of simply living with God here on earth. At the end of each groups trip, I asked them a couple questions:

First, What will you do when the honeymoon is over?
By this I mean that there is prevalent in America today a romanticized view of ministry, focusing on our fulfillment, our purpose, our sense of meaning. There is a way to be put on a pedestal, to be admired, to become a celebrity for making good sermons, or writing good books, or doing cool things. There is the even bigger danger of looking to do the thing you really like to do. That may not be the path God has for you for ministry. So what happens after the initial excitement of ministry fades, and it become a daily reality to lay down your life for the sake of others? What happens when it's you and Jesus sitting across the kitchen table from each other trying to make sense of this new life together?

The second question is related: If your church, school, or ministry organization ceased to exist tomorrow, what would your faith life look like?
Are you reliant upon an outside source to give you ministry activity, or even a relationship with God?

Why did you come on this trip?
I'm interested in their motivations, and hope they're aware of them. Perhaps the best answer to that question I've heard is one student who said that the previous year, God had told him to go on a mission trip, and he went to myrtle beach instead. He didn't want to repeat that mistake.

If all you had was the Bible to inform you, what would you desire in church?
We ask this because our motivations for ministry are the same the guide and encourage us in our daily walk with our Lord and fellow Christians. We are looking for God's design, for His working through the Body of Christ to minister here on the earth. If your relationship with God and other believers isn't on a good foundation, then your won't be as effective when you go out into the world to minister.


The interviews were recorded on March 10, 2016.



This recording contains the songs:
“Satellite Kite” and “A Bridge Between” by Beautiful Eulogy, from their album, Satellite Kite, available at humblebeast.com. Used by permission.
“With Your Eyes” by Enter the Worship Circle. Used by permission of Ben Pasley of Enter the Worship Circle. www.entertheworshipcircle.com

“Testimony Song” by Reformation Sound. Used by permission

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Property Maintenance and Lawn Care - Social entrepreneurship, pt 4


In order to pastor a community, you need perspective. A very broad perspective. You have to be aware of what is happening in your neighborhood, city, region. What has happened historically? What are the challenges and opportunities that characterize your community? And most importantly, what do you see God doing?

We have long held the philosophy that, as long as things line up with vision, we walk through whatever doors open before us. God is capable of guiding, correcting, and certainly protecting us. This gives us endless opportunities for learning.

A while back we were approached with an opportunity. ND Consulting, the local developer, was behind in what are called “make-readies”. A “make-ready” refers to doing whatever maintenance is necessary to a vacated apartment, etc. before a new tenant moves in. They wanted to know if we wanted the work. We were already partnering with them on several projects, so they were aware of the nature of our ministry and that we had the necessary skill sets.

We started by touring one of their developments that was a overhauled elementary school, now turned into apartments. Most of their developments are low-income, rent-controlled apartments.

Like our other businesses, we started by doing all the work ourselves. We had to break down bidding, maintenance, painting, and cleaning. Soon, though, we were able to integrate employees. We discovered that this was a perfect working environment for our ministry. It is relatively safe. No big machines or spinning blades. It has a broad skill set, with a fairly low bar initially. This means someone with few skills can come in and be trained on a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities. This can lead to several different career paths. Also, it is a contained environment, which means supervision is easy and efficient.

There are complications though. The work is dependent on the ebb and flow of vacancies. Emergency jobs pop up. Bidding can be time consuming, and difficult when it comes to work we've never done.

This business has led to other great opportunities. We started masonry and roofing soon afterwards. The same developer later asked us to provide lawn maintenance. Again, this has proven to be a good match for us. There is a good range of skill sets (pushing a mower, maintaining equipment, managing crews and supplies). It is local. It puts eyes all over the neighborhood. It keeps the place looking nice. We even took on a few vacant lots along the main thoroughfare to keep the place looking nice.

All of these skills cross over easily into the rest of our ministry. Employees end up trained to work in property rehab. Our own lawns get maintained. We have tools and skills to do community clean-ups, and to beautify the neighborhood.

Property maintenance and lawn care were two opportunities that came to us, and are creative ways to solve problems. They have given us new ways to create employment and pastor our community.