Thanks for tuning in to this week’s unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking to Mark Jobe, senior pastor at New Life Community Church (NLCC) in Chicago area and president of Moody Bible institute. New Life Community Church meets primarily in the city and has 28 locations with 40+ worship services. It’s a very multi-ethnic church with 60-70% of the attendees non-white, and most being first generation Christians.
Within cities the stress of this year has been more intense than anywhere else. The pandemic, racial tensions, social unrest, and the polarizing election created a very violent summer in terms of homicides and crime in Chicago. In the midst of everything, however, there have been amazing opportunities to minister to hurting people in the city. Mark is with us to share about how God is moving and how you can take advantage of these windows of opportunity in your area when a crisis hits.
- Dreams are fulfilled in unlikely ways. // When God gives a church a dream or a vision for something, we can’t know what He will use to bring about its fulfillment. God gives Joseph a dream, but he doesn’t know how to handle the dream. And when Joseph is sold as a slave to Egypt and eventually throne in prison, it seems like his God-given dream is put on hold, or has disappeared entirely. But in reality, God leads Joseph into crisis to prepare him for the fulfillment of that dream. The same can be true for us. Ask God what the crises of this year could be preparing your church for.
- Identify the biggest need. // When the pandemic hit, New Life Community Church wanted to do more than have online services because of the need they saw in their community. In Chicago the biggest need was that people were food-deprived and without jobs, particularly in Mexican immigrant communities. This led to seven of the NLCC locations connecting with a secular organization to distribute food. At the height of the pandemic in the spring, they were distributing food to 25,000-30,000 people a week – about 1% of the city of Chicago! In the middle of COVID through their facility parking lots, NLCC was actually serving double the number of people that they would normally be ministering to on a Sunday morning. And the great majority of those people were unchurched. Think about the greatest needs in your community. How can your church touch people in a way that doesn’t involve your regular Sunday service?
- Don’t miss the window of opportunity. // National and local crises will come around again and again over the course of your lifetime. Whatever crisis your community might be facing now or in the future, there is a window of opportunity where people will be hurting. Once that experience of pain plateaus, people will get back to life as normal. Pay attention to the season where people are more open to spiritual things because their lives are shaken. When crisis comes our orientation as leaders should be: How can we help? What can we do?
- Build partnerships. // In order to be able to pivot and respond to crisis opportunities, churches need to partner with organizations where they could be mutual benefits. During the pandemic, the need for food has been so great that New Life Community Church approached the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) to offer their help. GCFD had food but didn’t know how to get it to people. Meanwhile New Life had a wealth of volunteers to offer. The partnership allowed GCFD to change their whole approach to distributing food in Chicago. See how you can reach out to secular organizations and city officials in your area to create mutually beneficial partnerships. Be clear that you are an organization of faith, but recognize that what you have in common with secular organizations is desiring the good of your community.
- Use crisis and disruption. // Crisis and disruption can be an incredible gift to accelerate needed change if we embrace it that way. At Moody Bible Institute they had often talked of doing virtual classes, but they were slow to take action. When the pandemic hit, it became the impetus to make this change. Within three weeks all of their classes were moved online. In the midst of a shake-up in your own life, ask God what lessons He’s teaching you and what He’s accelerating that needs to change.
- Healthy transition. // Disruption can help us move into our next chapter, but we need to do it in a healthy way. Mark has written a book called “What Now? How to Move Into Your Next Season” which is for people in the middle of transition. It walks you through how to process your transition in a healthy, God-centered and spiritual way while discerning the voice of God.
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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Portable Church Industries
Doing Church in a Rented Facility can be a Challenge.