Planting churches is the work of Jesus. Churches are planted not because the already redeemed swap congregants, but because Jesus opens hearts and converts people. The imperative to His church is to go into the world and share the gospel of Jesus. The word gospel literally means “good news.” But what does good news look like?
In a world devoid of good news, many find escape as the only option. In some communities escape is sterile; excessive consumption, overwork and multiple relationships provide an escape. For other communities escape looks different: alcohol abuse, drug addiction, detachment from reality. After almost a-year-and-a-half of sharing good news in Depew, the team and I are learning a lot. We are learning that good news is interpreted differently in different communities. This is not to say the gospel message is ever dissimilar, but the way we present the message must translate to the specific communities we are called to serve.
In communities where traditional families are non-existent, consistent relationship is needed as we preach the gospel. It’s hard to share a message of adoption in Christ when people have no concept of family. In other communities, like Depew and Lancaster, it’s hard to share a message of power and freedom when the bondage of drugs and alcohol runs rampant. As we’ve been faithful in Depew sharing the gospel over the last year or so we have seen great success learning what good news looks like in that community. Drug addiction has affected not only the neighborhood, but many of our lives connected to Restoration Twin Village family.
In Acts 16, specifically verses 6-10, Paul along with some other people were traveling from city to city sharing the good news of the Gospel. “6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Just as the group took a look at what God was doing and “concluded” that God had called them to preach the gospel to a specific group of people, we have also taken a look at what God has been doing. As we’ve done so, it has come as no surprise that Jesus has deployed a team full of men and women in Depew very strong in the pastoral gifts of grace, mercy and counseling. God has called us to preach the Gospel to those hurting and looking for hope when often, it seems as if there isn’t any. Jesus has used these gifts of mercy and counseling to produce two thriving small groups where struggling people are finding hope within intimate Bible teaching. Given the unique make-up of those attending our groups, it has become clear that the traditional Sunday morning venue is not serving a community when 10 a.m. Sunday is not an hour many use to thrive.
After spending quality time serving the community, listening to the voices of the people at town board meetings, evaluating the relationships that we have established with other agencies, churches, businesses, and government, and serving those who are struggling through addiction and their families and friends struggling along side of them, the team will begin preparing to launch a gospel based recovery ministry as a means to preach the gospel. What is “recovery ministry?” This will be a gospel-centered teaching specifically directed for those suffering through addiction and support for the families and friends who love them. Given the emotionally taxing work of this style of ministry, the team at Twin Village will be joining the family at the 504 Frankhauser on Sunday mornings for prayer, preaching and communion.
As we seek to plant 10 churches across Western New York, we are learning a lot. We are learning that we must begin a church plant by learning the needs of the community. We are learning that each plant will look different based upon the gifts of the team. And most of all, we are learning we need to closely recognize the work Jesus is doing right before our eyes.
We thank you for your support and continue to covet your prayers.