19 April, 2024

Both Approaches Can Be Successful

by | 1 September, 2012 | 0 comments

By Jennifer Johnson

I like Matthew Barnett“s philosophy of serving: “Find a need and fill it.” For Barnett, founder of The Dream Center in Los Angeles, the motto has worked well. Since its launch in 1994, the center has served millions of poor, addicted, homeless, and broken people. Thousands of volunteers lead ministries ranging from residential rehab to “Adopt-A-Block” teams in 35 locations across the city.

I also like their story: Pastor Matthew”s outreach to the gangs surrounding the church”s iconic building, the organic growth of ministries developed by members, and its identity as “the church that never sleeps.”

But I”m practical enough (and far enough removed from the Assemblies of God) to wonder if this approach is best for every church. How do we know we”re finding the right need? How do we measure success to know we”re meeting the need well?

The idea for LifeSpring to create a free medical clinic (see p. 7) grew out of the skills of current volunteers and began with a leadership team of people who, in Paige Sims“s words, “we knew were really excited about this opportunity, wanted to get involved, and had the time, motivation, and skills we needed to get the job done.”

That team also contacted existing clinics to learn best practices and implemented many of the suggestions. They”re starting small””just one night a week””and are committed to reevaluating the project after one year.

I”ve sat in meetings with the Dream Center leaders and fallen in love with their selfless attitudes and their vision for Los Angeles. Their work in the city glorifies God and has been hugely blessed by him. But I also value LifeSpring”s careful preparation. By temperament and training, I”m conditioned to want a plan.

I”m glad we serve a God big enough to work through both strategies””and I”m glad his church welcomes those of us who just sleep a little better knowing there”s a spreadsheet.


Jennifer Johnson, one of Christian Standard”s contributing editors, lives in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

Do you know of a church breaking new ground or leading innovative ministry? Send a brief description and contact info to [email protected].


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