Category Archives: Multi-Housing Ministry
Christmas is about a BIG GIVEAWAY! God gave away his very best so that others could know Him & have Eternal Life (John 3:16). This year, Bridge Church took on a BIG GIVE in order to help others know God & have eternal Life. We set out to give a stocking to EVERY MULTI-HOUSING RESIDENT in Covington on Christmas Eve! Great project that any church can take on!
Here’s what we put in the Stockings:
- A copy of The Value of A Soul, this year’s My Hope DVD from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. $1 per. Three great testimonies from real people on how life In Christ impacted them.
- The Living in Christ Book from My Hope with Billy Graham. $1 per. Includes how to begin a relationship with God, 4-part study on beginning the Christian life, & the Gospel of John.
- Christmas Candy & Goodies. (Most of this was left over from our rained out Trunk or Treat. Ha!)
- Some type of small family game. Like a deck of cards or mini board game or puzzle. $1-$2 at local dollar stores.
- Fresh fruit purchased at a local fruit stand. $35 per case.
- A few packs of Hot Chocolate. $.10 each at Sam’s Club.
- Invite to our church & an area Bible Study.
We knocked on each door & said “Merry Christmas from Bridge Church!” & asked if there was anything we could pray for them about. Great conversations. Loved serving with my family & other on mission believers from our church on Christmas Eve. With great participation we were done by noon. We even had some leftovers that we were able to deliver to area Fire Stations. Probably touched over 500 people on Christmas Eve.
Hope you’ll pick a multi-housing complex or a neighborhood & tackle a BIG GIVE project next Christmas!
In 2008, we were assessing the need for a potential new church in West St. Tammany Parish. One of my favorite questions in assessing the need for a new church is, “Where is the church not?” Meaning, is there places in this community where the Gospel & the body of Christ are not represented to a population segment or people group? And then, can sustainable ministry be developed through an existing or new church?
As part of this assessment, we came across Oak Villa Mobile Home Park in Covington. 150 lots, 450 people living there, 75-100 under the age of 18, 25% of the households are elderly, many with no local family, many in transition – lost job, recently divorced, just got out of jail. This became the first place of engagement for a Bible Study group that was meeting to form Bridge Church. We started by building a relationship with the management & meeting the immediate needs that she recognized, which was six households that needed food assistance. That led to ministering to one of those households in another practical way. A bed ridden elderly man was overrun with cock roaches. So our Bible Study group made the very spiritual decision to purchase him a year’s worth of pest control.
Since those first projects we’ve built porches, steps, handicap ramps, conducted regular kids activities, block parties, How to seminars, pressure washed trailers, etc. We’ve also served as Shepard to a shepard-less group of people – conducting funerals, counseling, benevolence, etc.
Then in 2010, with the help of Fairview Baptist Church, Coushatta, LA & the Louisiana Baptist Convention we were able to get our own Mobile Home in the park where today we have a Food Pantry, weekly Bible Studies, & we can call ourselves neighbors to the largest multi-housing community in West St. Tammany.
This weekend will be Bridge Church’s Faith in Action Sunday, where instead of gathering we scatter & serve our community in a variety of ways. We’ll be focusing on the needs of Oak Villa MHP. Projects will include building a couple of wheelchair ramps for elderly residents, trimming trees in the park that could damage trailers if we have a high wind event, activities & Bible stories for kids, Outdoor Worship & we’ll close out with the Big Kahuna water slide. We’ll also be baptizing several residents of the park who are ready to follow Christ.
Faith in Action Sunday is about going where the church is not. Less than 2% of multi-housing residents attend church & in low income areas like Oak Villa, many of them cannot due to lack of transportation. This is an opportunity for us to take church to them & show them the body of Christ in our area cares. And ongoing ministry demonstrates we love them because we care enough to come back.
Ask, “where is the church not?” about your community. Is there ministry that you, your small group, your church could do? You can also join Bridge Church for Faith in Action Sunday, June 30th, 9:30am at Oak Villa Mobile Home Park, 15455 Ronald Reagan Hwy., Covington.
Our church & association of churches conducts a lot of Block Parties. Bridge Church does so many we decided to get our own Block Party Trailer. Our Associations Block Party Trailer is used at least 40 times each year for a wide variety of events. Recently I was asked if Block Parties are effective or just something else to add to a long list of things that keep Christians busy, but not bearing fruit. Here’s a few reasons why I think Block Parties are a great tool in the outreach strategy of a missional church:
1. GATHERING. Someone said there is three keys to church planting or church growth: 1) Gathering people, 2) Gathering people, 3) Gathering people. The Evangelistic Block Party is a great way to gather people or gather where people are & build relationships, share the gospel, cultivate community, & have fun doing it.
2. INCARNATION. “The word became flesh & blood & moved into the neighborhood” John 1:14 (MSG). A Block Party is a great way to get the church building relationships where people are. We do Block Parties in neighborhoods & subdivisions, at local parks. I also love to incarnate at the communities Block Party type of events. Why try to gather people when they’re already going to be gathered somewhere else. Just build the right relationships, show you care, & add Incarnational Christians to the party! Some good places to incarnate through Block Partying:
- Multi-Housing complexes. Many times the manager already has a budget for community events. He/she just doesn’t have the time or know how to pull them off.
- Subdivisions & neighborhoods. Use your yard or the communities common space.
- Area Events. Every community has a festival of some kind. Get involved, pay for space, or whatever you have to do to add your life to the party.
In the incarnation, Jesus got close to our needs. Be prepared when you get close to the needs of people to be changed & challenged. Incarnation can hurt if you have thin skin. That’s probably why we don’t do it that much. I can send a postcard mailer & 40-50% of the people will throw it away. No harm to me b/c I don’t see their reaction. When you’re there, you do see their reaction. You’ve got to know the season, which leads us to #3…
3. SPIRITUAL FARMING. There are really three reasons for any outreach event a congregation or small group conducts: 1) CULTIVATION, 2) PLANTING SEEDS; 3) HARVESTING. Block Party can be an environment for all three to take place. And it’s important to know ahead of time which one of these you are doing so that you can measure effectiveness.
Using Block Parties to CULTIVATE. Cultivation is an important part of evangelistic ministry & it’s something that we are leaving off our strategy as churches in the West (see Dr. Chuck Kelly’s great message about Spiritual Farming here) Why? Probably because it doesn’t net immediate results. But it is necessary for healthy multiplication of disciples over the long haul. If I plant seeds without knowing & improving the conditions of the soil, my garden may have a short life.
We’ve used Block Parties to Cultivate or initiate relationships in new communities over the past three years & it’s helped us in several ways:
- To show apartment managers & community leaders that we care.
- To test the spiritual soil or readiness of an area or population segment for the Gospel.
- To find the persons of peace in a neighborhood.
- To train a team & work out the kinks in the “how to’s” of Block Partying
What does a cultivative Block Party look like? No real agenda. Loud music. Food. Opportunities to interact & engage in conversation. A lot of “this is what we’re about” talk. And a hardy “WE’LL BE BACK’ when it’s over. Focus is on finding those few people that show interest & readiness to hear the gospel.
Here’s a list of goals that one of our Block Party teams recently wrote up for a cultivative event we do each month in our city:
- learn/memorize the name of one child you speak to (so you can call them by name next month when you see them)
- tell at least 10 people (total): who Bridge Church is, what we are about, and what we believe
- see at least one person/family we meet at the BP at another Bridge Church event – (“If you like what we do here at the Block Party, you would love coming to ______ (Our neighborhood block parties, Guy’s/Girl’s Night, Outdoor Movie night, FIA, Sunday morning service).”
- each time we speak with someone, have the conversation go beyond, “what type of balloon would you like”, “would you like a fan”, “what color face paint do you want”….actually engage others in conversation, “what is your name”, “where do you work”, “how long have you lived in this area”.
Using Block Parties to PLANT SEEDS. Cultivating & planting seeds are closely related. In gardening you’re often doing both at the same time. In Evangelistic ministry like Block Partying it denotes another step of intentionality. For us in some of our new communities where the soil has been hard, this has looked like…
- introducing New Testaments & giving them away to everyone who attends
- having a Mic & having someone give a quick testimony as to why we’re there
- inviting people to a follow up event like a Bible Study in the area
- or inviting them to church
Using Block Parties as a HARVEST tool. It takes a season to grow a harvest. It also takes mature plants, the right conditions, the right tools for a harvest, & a somewhat knowledgeable harvester. For an evangelistic Block Party to be a Harvest event you should have the trust of the people that have given you permission, people who are ready to harvest – i.e. that can share the gospel & lead someone to put their faith in Christ, & the right harvest tools. Some ways to use Block Parties to harvest:
- Have 12 or more people trained to actively share the gospel with the crowd.
- Have a Prayer or Spiritual Interest tent designated with trained counselors stationed there.
- Share the gospel & give an opportunity to respond from a stage. Utilizing an evangelists, an entertainer of some kind, or a personal testimony of someone in the group.
Block parties can be an easy & fun tool to have in your outreach strategy. For best results apply gardening principles:
- Know what season you’re in – cultivating, planting, or harvesting.
- Plant generously. the more seeds you plant the more you’ll harvest.
- Prepare for a harvest.
- Have fun! Christian should bring life to every party!
If you’re interested in doing a block party yourself, start at our Northshore Baptist Associations Block Party Trailer page, or join Bridge Church this week at several Block Parties we’re doing:
- Columbia Street Block Party in downtown Covington, tonight, Friday, June 29, 6-8pm. Cultivative event. We’ll be painting faces & passing out balloon animals & making new friends.
- Oak Villa Mobile Home Park, Sunday, July 1, 5-7pm. We’ve been cultivating & planting seeds for two years in this community. Getting ready to start harvesting!
- The Groves Apartments, Monday, July 2 5:30-7pm. Cultivating relationships in a brand new apartment complex.
- Madisonville 4th of July Celebration, July 4, 2pm-until. Incarnating at a local 4th of July party. This one’s going to be a blast!
Not much time for blogging lately. Getting ready for a furious few weeks On Mission 4 Others in our region. Here’s our church’s & my personal lineup for Crossover/SBC 2012 in Greater New Orleans:
- Mon, June 11 – Wheelchair ramp going up in Madisonville for an elderly widow & 2K homes get bags on their door inviting them to participate in our annual summer can food drive. Info meeting for a Bridge Church Fall Mission Trip to Haiti to work with respirehaiti.org.
- Tues, June 12 – Serving a local Mobile Home Park in various ways, concluding with a Big Ole Block Party, 5-7pm.
- Wed, June 13 – More ramp, porch, hand rail building. And another Block Party at a local Multi-housing complex, 5-7pm.
- Thurs, June 14 – Final Meeting for our Spring Recovery & Re-entry Class at our local jail. 88 registered, 38 men will be Graduating. Honored to have done life with these friends for the last 26 weeks. Pumped to send many of them out as new men.
- Sat, June 16 – Block Party at Ames Blvd Baptist Church on the Westbank, 10-2pm. Painting @ the Covington Boys & Girls Club to get their new building completed, 9am-4pm. Backyard Bible Club in a Madisonville subdivision, 5-7pm. Family Movie Night at Lakeside Baptist Church in Metairie, 7-9pm.
- Sun, June 17 – Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast at Bridge Church, 10:30am @ the West St. Tammany YMCA. Father’s Day Block Party for Inmate families at our local jail, 1-4pm. Entertainment provided by Jim Chester. Graduating 38 men from our Recovery & Re-entry programs, Baptizing 20+ men who have found Christ through our church & ministry at the jail.
- Mon, June 18 – More porch, ramp, handrail building. Block Party & VBS Kickoff at a Ponchatoula Apartment complex.
- June 19-20 – Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting 2012 in New Orleans. I’ll be working the Unlimited Partnerships booth, voting for Fred Luter to be the next Pres of the SBC, & making connections & re-connections w/kingdom partners from around the United States in the SBC tribe.
Our partners for the next few weeks:
- FBC Chesnee, SC – First trip to NOLA for these guys. Bruce Jennings on point.
- Ford Park Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA. Fellow Northwestern St. Alums, Tate Miller & Heather Tolbert annually bring a group to work with us through Mission Lab.
- FBC Winnsboro, TX – Pastor David Rose is a fellow Northwestern St. & Southwestern Seminary Alum.
Here’s a bit of a photo dump of flyers for next week or so. Prayers appreciated.
Our church partners with a few area Multi-Housing complexes to provide New Resident Welcome Baskets. We also want to make them available for the rest of us to bless new neighbors with as well. We stuffed a bunch at our last Faith In Action Sunday. Here’s the list of stuff in ours, which was put together by our Creative Team. Their leader Angie McGinty sent me this list.
- Basket (I have been lucky enough to find some the perfect size in the dollar section at Target, but I think they are out now)
- Archer Farms Brand (@Target): Box of cheddar sourdough cheese straws and caramel macadamia popcorn in the big clear container (by chips). I picked these because they look nicer and more gourmet if you will.
- Some type of gender neutral note pad (I found ones with magnets in the Target dollar section)
- A nice pen to go with notepad (I usually only get these if they have some in the dollar section…nice pens are not cheap)
- Antibacterial hand soap (I get the nice ones from Bath and Body Works..they were running a special for 7 of them for $20 but they may not be running that anymore. If not, I know that Target has some nice ones like the organic hand soaps) I think adding a nice soap with a great smell really makes the baskets kick up a notch as opposed to just some random everyday soap. I still have 4 of these left.
- A nice dish towel/hand towel. You may be able to find some cute Spring ones on sale at Hobby Lobby right now. I got a neutral color from Target for a few bucks.
- Thick wire edge ribbon to tie around the basket (Hobby Lobby has great ribbon and usually on sale)
Cost of each basket: less than $25
- Every multi-housing complex had a partnering church to welcome new residents.
- We noticed & took responsibility for new movers into our neighborhoods & cultivated relationships during this important season in their lives.
What else would you include? Does your church do anything like this?