“Neighborhood Ministry has become our nerve center,” says Ashley Wooldridge, executive pastor at Christ”s Church of the Valley (Peoria, AZ). “It is the reason our church is growing.”
CCV senior pastor Don Wilson created Neighborhood Ministry three years ago to more effectively accomplish the church”s mission of winning people to Christ, training them to become disciples, and sending disciples to impact the world.
Each person at CCV is encouraged to join a neighborhood group””a weekly gathering of people who live in the same neighborhood or subdivision. The groups meet each week in a study based on the previous week”s sermon.
“This is a huge missional shift,” Wooldridge says. “Instead of asking people to drive 20 minutes for a small group, we ask them to build relationships right where they are.”
Within their own subdivision of 500 houses, 200 people belong to one of the groups.
“We work together to reach our whole neighborhood for Jesus,” he says, “and this model is replicated in neighborhoods throughout Phoenix. So far more than 6,000 CCV”ers are involved.”
In addition to the weekly studies, groups serve their neighbors in practical ways: organizing cookouts, providing meals after a new baby, or even offering a free funeral to a grieving family (see “Free for All” in the February 13 issue or go to christianstandard.com). One couple raised money to send a struggling neighbor to rehab; another group retrofitted a house when a neighbor was paralyzed after a diving accident.
CCV”s leadership structure is built around neighborhood pastors who oversee several areas and train volunteer group leaders.
“It”s easy to feed the homeless across town or build a house in Mexico, but we need to reach the people literally in our backyards,” he says. “This is difficult, but it”s so worth it.”
CCV”s Web site is www.ccvonline.com