Apologies in advance for a lengthy post - but please, please read on!
So what exactly is a Ministry Center? And more importantly, why is it important?
Why? As most of you know, C3 was planted for the purpose of serving the highly diverse community of East Anchorage. During our 5-year history, we have met in various locations, and done a few projects here and there, but largely struggled to define how we could live into our calling. There were (and are still) bright spots here and there, but for the most part we struggled to sustain our efforts and truly have the impact we desired. To top it off, few of us lived in or near Muldoon. We commuted to church, without really having much of a presence there outside of our Sunday services.
Since the time it became obvious we would have a leadership transition, I have been convicted that we needed to be committed to three key relationships: 1) Christ, 2) Church, and 3) Community. At the time I stepped into the Lead Pastor role, I think we were doing okay on #1, but as to #2 and #3, well ... not so much.
As a result, God laid a heavy burden on me to first "rebuild" the church body. Those of us who were left needed to reconnect, and remember why we came together. I sensed God telling us that we needed to "devote ourselves to the Apostle's teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42) and that everything else would flow from that. John 13:35 was also key, "By this will everyone know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." After all, if we didn't love one another, why should anyone want to come? Instead, frankly, let's make the world "jealous" and deeply want to be a part of who we are at C3. That is how the church has always grown - by being the type of community that people not only needed, but desperately wanted to be part of, come "hell or high water."
I confess - I thought commitment #2 (loving our church - each other) would take 6+ months, then we could talk about how to move on to #3 - our commitment (love) for our community. But as God is apt to do, He opened doors "before I was ready." A schedule conflict for one Sunday in our prior meeting place at Begich Middle School caused us to look for a location for one Sunday in late September. Through prior contacts arising from our GraceWorks Standish Park ministry, we met with the ASD and leaders at Muldoon Elementary School, and - well, praise God - the rest is now history! Not only did we find a location for that one Sunday, but we found a new home - one that welcomed us with open arms, and has helped define our mission more clearly than we have ever been able to do previously.
I know this is getting long - please forgive me - but my heart is overflowing with thanks and praise to God! And the best part is - we are just getting started!
Now that we seem to be well on our way to both rebuilding our church community and having a far more clear picture of what serving our neighborhood community looks like (through our partnership with Muldoon Elementary), there is still one huge step we can take - that of truly establishing ourselves in the community. Yes, we meet there on Sunday. Yes, we are able to come into the school for many of their events and sponsor some of our own. Yes, we have a growing ministry opportunity at Safe Harbor (Muldoon Gardens) transitional housing. But we still have a problem - we don't "live" in Muldoon.
Now the What? While we may not be able to "move to Muldoon" as families, we can "move there" as a church - establishing an address, a regular presence, a home among those we are called to serve.
What if we could have a facility where we can do various ministries (recovery, education, relational, etc.), have a regular office presence, have church gatherings (committees, home groups, fellowship), and even a place for visitors (missionaries, bush pastors, etc.) to stay right in the heart of our mission field?
What if this location was a mere 2 blocks from Muldoon Elementary, within a stone's throw of Standish Park (where we partner with GraceWorks each summer), only a few blocks from Safe Harbor and the Muldoon business district?
What if this location was welcoming, safe and comfortable - a home among homes, not an off-putting shiny office building, or a churchy looking structure?