In light of the three observations I gathered from the trip my wife and I took to St. Louis last week, I ended my last blog with the response our family will be fleshing out in Los Angeles. I wanted to "re-package" the last part of my blog and put it under a new post in order to allow those who support the ministry the Lord does through me, to officially start the journey to L.A. with me. This blog is our first official "confirmation" of our family's move to Los Angles alongside a 30,000 foot view of our plan and strategy.
#Ferguson & My Family
As we left St. Louis headed back home to Atlanta, my wife asked me what it is going to take for the gospel to transform urban communities. The answer I gave was; our communities need gospel-centered, multi-ethnic, cultural, and generational led churches that model for their people long-lasting engagement as they intersect in the six avenues of life while mobilizing their people to do the same.
My family and I sense a calling from the Lord for us to re-locate to Los Angeles alongside a team of biblically qualified elders, land in a dying or declining church and work to see the above answer become the new rhythm of life. To provide further clarity, I’d like to unpack my response a little bit further by qualifying the terms I used.
Unpacking the Framework
The gospel is the lens in which our leaders and laity view the world. We see every human as an equal image bearer of God, who has inherited a sin nature from Adam (Romans 5:12), and is in equal need of the only qualified savior for humanity, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). In addition, the gospel is central in our discipleship relationships and the evidence of this allows for God the Holy Spirit to daily transform every internal and external area of life not just our theology.
"Multi-Ethnic, Cultural, and Generational Led"
The leadership of our church is going to work with diligence to see a close ratio of our leadership reflect the ethnic and generational demographics of our area. Our leaders will be biblically qualified (1 Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:6-16). We want to strive to ensure stable health in the pulpit, people, and process of our church. Our leaders will focus on not only shepherding the hearts of their people but also raising up like-minded future leaders (2 Tim. 2:2).
"Model long-lasting engagement"
Our leadership desires to work along the Lord’s leading to settle and root in the community God has called us to, at this time is still unknown. Our desire is to remain there as long as God allows in order to see systemic gospel-centered change in the community become normative. Success to us is not measured by numerical or monetary growth rather; faithfulness to the Scriptures, setting up the next generation with a proper understanding of gospel stewardship, and seeing spiritual maturity becoming the new rhythm of life in the community at-large, not just inside the church building. Obviously, this takes decades, not months.
"Intersection of the six avenues of life"
The above long-lasting engagement will be seen as the gospel is faithfully and strategically woven into the F.A.B.R.I.C. of the life in the community.
- Family – our homes are our first missionfield and a gospel implications that mirror Eph 5:22-6:4, Colossians 3:18-4:1, and 1 Peter 3:1-7 will be modeled and multiplied in the lives of our disciples
- Authority (Government & Law Enforcement) – our prayers for our national, state and local leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-6) will be coupled with our lifestyles of civil obedience (Romans 13:1-7 & 1 Peter 2:13-17) while we labor for social and spiritual justice in our community
- Business – our money will have the intention of being stewarded for God’s glory as it’s shared with those in need (Phil. 4:10-20) and store owners in our neighborhood while we strive to show others what a life of contentment looks like (1 Tim. 6:6-10) while teaching them financial stewardship
- Religion – our hearts will be filled compassion (Matt. 9:35-38) while we give reasonable responses to those who oppose our faith (1 Peter 3:13-17) when we’re reaching out in order to make Christ known via urban apologetics
- Institutions of Learning (Education) – our time will be spent volunteering in our local schools as we lobby to see education reform enter our community so that we will be a response to the cries of our city that resemble Psalm 10:10-18. In addition we will work to secure on-going relationships with local jails, state and Federal prisons to evangelize and equip incarcerated saints with gospel-centered resources that produce long lasting fruit.
- Culture (Arts & Entertainment) – our focus will be dead set on looking at the culture through the lens of the Bible before entering in. The culture’s belief system, language, and practices will be examined in light of Scripture, showing us ways relate. Our language will be non-profane but filled with vocabulary and concepts the culture can understand so we can build relationships. We will not commit acts of sin in order to gain approval (Acts 17:16-34). The relationships we develop will be in harmony with Paul’s method used in 1 Thess. 2:8. I unpack my interpretation of this verse here.
"Mobilize their people to do the same"
As the leaders live out the above nuances, they’ll organically launch their people to go out and daily do the same.
How we can Reach L.A.
Point blank, my family has a deep conviction to see the darkness that holds our urban communities hostage be pushed back by the power of the gospel
I want to see L.A. reached with the gospel but I recognize my own limitations and know I can only reach one community with a deep impact. However, the strategy I want to employ to reach the L.A. region is simple: root our family/team in one community, annually take 4-5 men under the wings of our elders for 12 months and train them to do the same in another community/neighborhood in the L.A. region.
When we launch out each pastor, they’ll be Licensed and Ordained through our church, would’ve had contextualized training to prepare them for their community in L.A. and have 18hrs of Master’s Level degree seeking credit (or up to 30hrs on a Bachelor’s degree level) available through their studies under our team. In year 3 of their ministry they will repeat the process done with them and prayerfully in 10 years we’ll have over 100 churches in L.A. employing the same strategy.
At this time, we’re asking God to send us team members and supporters that will labor for us in prayer this early on in our transition. As of now, my dear brother Steve Ross and his wife have agreed to partner with and serve alongside our family to see this vision become reality. Steve started the #Pray4LosAngeles hashtag and we're ecstatic to have he and Jaime on board with us.
If you sense a leading to pray for us and become apart of our prayer team, would you send us an email at Pray4LosAngeles@gmail.com – we’re believing for God to supply us with 100 prayer partners by the end of this summer. Please stay tuned for further updates!