MetroGrace is Developing Churches
MetroGrace is Developing Churches With an Urban Presence
It was a frigid morning. A young boy was awakened by the sound of sirens. That was not unusual for his neighborhood, but this time they grew closer and closer. They ceased with a whine in front of his house; flashing light reflected off the porch windows. Paramedics rushed upstairs into his parents’ bedroom and emerged shaking their heads. There was nothing they could do; his father was gone. The boy stood shivering on the curb with family, friends, and a gathering crowd; his life had been changed forever.
The boy was just six years old, the sixth of seven children. Now, his mother was a thirty-nine year old widow. She had dropped out of school to take care of her dying mother at seventeen. She had married at age eighteen. Twenty years later, she was uneducated, unemployed, and responsible for seven young lives. She was shocked and afraid.
Up the street on the corner of the block, there was a small church. Hearing the plight of that family, the pastor of the church walked down the street. He ministered to the family, conducted the funeral services, and provided pastoral care. He rallied the ladies of the church around the young widow. Soon, she came to trust Christ as her Savior. All of her children came to know Jesus through the ministry of that small, urban church. Her family was transformed because a gospel-centered, community-based church was serving an inner city neighborhood at a critical point in their lives.
This is the true story of Dr. Jim Brown, the founder and Executive Director of MetroGrace.
The church must be present in the neighborhoods of American cities to affect change. Every day, thousands of people are distressed by the exigencies of life. At those critical moments, the church must be present and prepared to share the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Toward that end, MetroGrace calls disciples, leaders, and churches to develop gospel-centered, community-based churches in cities throughout North America.
MetroGrace is Developing Churches that Proclaim the Gospel
Gospel-centered churches proclaim the good news. They advance the biblical message about eternal life for those who recognize their sinfulness, realize the penalty, and rest in the completed work of Jesus to satisfy their debt. The urban neighborhoods of North American cities need churches that share the transforming truth.
Recently, a single mother in Philadelphia came to understand the gospel message and placed her trust in Jesus Christ. She has learned to pray, study the Bible and live a new life. She has seen change in her outlook, her relationships and her work. Knowing Jesus changes everything!
MetroGrace is Developing Churches that Practice the Gospel
Gospel-centered churches practice good deeds that give evidence of new life, pointing those served to the God who saves. They consistently apply the exhortation of James:
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:17-18)
Neighbors in American cities need to see faith in action.
An older couple in the city saw that action recently when they suddenly lost their housing. A brother in one of our churches helped them find a place to live, moved their belongings and provided some resources to help them transition. Genuine faith takes action.
Harvie Conn says, “If evangelism is to meet all the needs of the publicans, the church will have to recruit an army of Good Samaritans. And reality that will touch their felt needs is expressed in the Greek word Dikaioma, the righteous deed, the doing of justice…The New Testament church does not escape the obligations of doing justly for evangelism.” (Conn 1982, 42-43)
MetroGrace is Developing Community-Based Churches
Cities need gospel-centered churches that are community-based. They should be located in geographically discernable neighborhoods, gathering believers from the community and directing service toward its residents. Churches that understand the warp and woof of a neighborhood become part of the rich fabric of that community. Members develop honest relationships with one another and those they seek to reach. Genuine depth is possible within the context of community fellowship.
Ortiz challenges the church:
Location has not been taken as seriously as it should for the mission enterprise. Congregations look for locations with suitable facilities that are accessible by automobile and provide sufficient parking space, but they show little concern for the immediate mission context...Most churches are primarily concerned about the people within the church and the people most like “us.” They give insufficient attention to their mission context, which could represent a different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic group. . . Instead of seriously strategizing to reach the local community, we have transferred people in, in order to get the pews filled, have experienced leadership, and have adequate finances. In this pragmatic move, the mission of the church is short circuited. Churches need to strategize with local community in mind. (Ortiz and Baker 2002, 50)