Alliance Churches Take to the Streets

 Alliance churches are breaking the mold of the traditional church plant. Frustration with budget crunches, dwindling congregations, and decreased giving with little left for outreach has caused many Alliance pastors to rethink the way they do church.

“Trying to get people to come to church just doesn’t work like it used to,” said one Alliance pastor recently. “There’s a general consensus, especially among younger people, that churches are filled with hypocrites who demand money and perfection but don’t practice what they preach; the Bible is an ancient document and there is no evidence of God’s power among so-called Christians.”

In order to build bridges of trust that will bear the weight of truth, some Alliance churches are moving beyond the four walls of traditional church buildings into their communities, demonstrating the love of their Servant King through projects that benefit their neighbors. The fact that nothing is asked in return has captured the attention of city officials as well as local media in some cases.

Freely Give

Pastor Rick Gates has led his Crossroads Church congregation in Perry, Iowa, out of the sanctuary to shine the light of Christ during a Week of Service in their community. Church members have completed 40 projects in four years. Local TV news shows have reported the “free help” that Crossroads provided for the community in June.

“Our culture today knows nothing of the church except that it expects people to give money and attend services for no meaningful or relevant purpose,” says Rick.  “The church is not connected to their daily lives and does not make sense to them. Jesus talks a lot about being servants . . . as we serve, people slowly begin to see Jesus.”

Benefitting Neighbors

“Most church plants take 30 or more people and move them,” say Pastor Scott Klaudt of Downtown Alliance Church, who established a coffeehouse in downtown Missoula, Montana, in order to meet plenty of people. “We didn’t want to just shift a bunch of Christians around, which may work for some, but it’s not what I wanted to do.”

The coffeehouse venue provides lunches, catering mostly to professionals in search of quality noontime respite, and hosts open-mike night, jazz concerts highlighting local musicians, and benefit fund-raisers for neighbors. “We recently hosted a benefit concert for a youngster who suffers from a seizure disorder,” says Scott.

God’s Property!

ft-wayneIn Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Bob and Sue Havenor and a handful of people, none of whom are in professional ministry, have reclaimed for God an area where an Alliance church once stood. They have taken jobs within their community in order to build relationships and prayer walk. Bob is getting to know a lot of men through his work at an auto parts store. 

“We didn’t plant an organization where people with needs must go to a church,” says Bob. “We are the Church that has a mandate to go to the people with needs. This is the essence of incarnational ministry; as John 1:14 says in The Message, ‘God became a man and moved into the neighborhood.'”

Bob’s team began systematically prayer walking every street in a 1.5 square-mile target area. “We started at a strategic location that is, first, an easy place to find on a busy central street,” he says. “Second, and far more important, is what this property once was. This was the site of the Fort Wayne Gospel Temple, a leading Alliance church in the middle half of the last century.”

Outside the Box

ServantChurch in Mission, Kansas, is “committed to doing church simply so that we can simply serve,” says Pastor Doug Burford, who grew weary of buildings, bulletins, budgets, and board meetings, as well as struggling to get busy professionals to meet for prayer, Bible study, and service.

Since its inception, ServantChurch has participated in several projects, including the construction of nanny quarters for a family in which the mother has terminal cancer and the installation of windows to winterize the residence of “urban missionaries” in Kansas City. “ServantChurch is intentionally without a building so that its members are free to worship where they serve,” says Doug.

As the history of the Church bears witness, there are times, like the Reformation, when the Church has to “reset” the course after straying off course. “It has been said that Martin Luther reset the theology of the Church,” Doug says. “This ‘new reformation’ is one that [just may] reset the form of the Church.”

What You Can Do

Praise God for His guidance and provision for Alliance workers who are willing to take faith-filled risks to share the gospel.

Pray that God will bless these four churches with a bountiful harvest.



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