A Bottle of Water in the Name of Jesus
When baby boomers think about Miami, they think about drugs, crime, gangs—Miami Vice or CSI Miami. When college students think about Miami, they think about a vibrant, cool, modern city with beautiful beaches and a hipster culture—Justin Bieber driving a Lamborghini on South Beach. I think that’s why college students are always excited about coming to Miami to work with us, and their parents are always a little nervous. The truth is, Miami is a little bit of both.
From the very beginning of the church-planting journey we knew we could not do this alone, so we prayed that the Lord would send people to help us, and wow, we have been amazed at the way He has answered that prayer! During March and April, teams from BCM’s and church based collegiate ministries helped us invite over ten thousand people to our Easter services, handed out water in the name of Jesus, witnessed to people at bus stops and on college campuses, did service projects at a local elementary school, and the teams even helped us explore another part of Miami where we are trying to start a second location.
As a direct result of the work of collegiate ministry teams from Alabama, we saw our highest attendance ever on Easter Sunday at 329, and 9 people made professions of faith that day. Another long-term benefit of our partnership with Alabama collegiate ministries is that several students from the collegiate teams have applied for our intern program, which is a crucial part of our strategy.
I’m really excited to have another collegiate team this summer because they will help us make crucial contacts for our second location. Please pray that God would lead them to people who share our passion for reaching Miami and would be willing to help a new church get started. Pray that the team has the opportunity to lead people to Jesus, and that they find Christians who have lost their connection to a local congregation.
Mission teams of all ages are very beneficial to church planting, and I am thankful that our mission teams have always understood that working with a church planter is different than a traditional mission trip. It’s different because church planters need to make thousands of contacts to generate traction, and it’s different because most church planters don’t have a facility where they can use a VBS team, a construction team, a revival team, or some of the other, more traditional mission teams. The most beneficial teams for church planters are those who say, “tell us what to do, and we’ll do it.”
Preparing for mission work with a church planter starts with prayer—real prayer—spiritual warfare prayer. It’s also important that the team learn as much about the new church, the church planter, and the culture as possible. We’ve found that training teams for what they will actually do is not that hard. Anyone can handout a bottle of water or hang a door hanger as long as they are willing to trust the church planter’s strategy and be flexible! If any churches or teams are looking for a church plant to connect with, we would love to put them to work in Miami!