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As followers of Jesus Christ, we are tasked with taking this Good News out to those who have not yet heard and received. We are tasked with taking light into the darkness. There are plenty of well to do neighborhoods full of folks that desperately need a relationship with Jesus Christ. But one of the areas with the highest percentage of non-church attending people statistically is apartment complexes. There has been recognition in recent years of this missed opportunity for missions in our own towns as opposed to falling into the trap Jesus mentions in Matthew 23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!”
So apartment complexes, not because they hold people any more or less worthy than people in a different socio-economic bracket, but because historically, they are not attending a gathering of believers regularly and consistently. And Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to encourage others to meet together to praise, worship, grow, learn and be equipped for service in the Kingdom of God: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” And some do not have transportation, some have those that they are taking care of, and some have been beat down by the circumstances of their lives to the point that getting up early on Sunday morning to step into a church full of people who “seemingly on the outside have their whole lives put together and polished” – it can be a great deal to bear by themselves.
So enter Community Outreach by way of Apartment Ministries:
We had a great “kickoff” gathering Monday, October 2, 2017 at Spruce Pine Apartments in Landrum, SC.
The Lord revealed through the discussion the guidelines for the group that we will follow:
1) We will always open the gathering with praise together and with a prayer from the group leader.
2) We will weekly take up a collection to provide drinks and cookies for the children, to be offered freely in the name of Christ. Receipts and tally will be provided weekly by the treasurer (once appointed) and overseen by the group leader (currently Hop Ballinger). They will be responsible for purchasing and bringing the snacks.
3) Our youth leader (currently Kathy Todd), will be responsible each week for providing a message for the kids at the playground (weather permitting) and watching over the kids to reduce interruption and distraction. She will also distribute snacks and prizes in the name of Jesus Christ.
4) Any discussions about people or circumstances outside the room will be expected to “be brought home” in either A) an acknowledgement of how we have done those things ourselves in the past and we need to be forgiving of others, or B) a confession that we need to repent ourselves from something it revealed in us. If someone is aiming words outside towards others, we will say “bring it home” to remind them of Matthew 7:5 and 1 Corinthians 5:12.
5) We will not interrupt someone when they are talking. We will respectfully listen, not just waiting to respond, but listening and considering what they are saying and what the Word of God says in comparison. Our goal is to have a kind and respectful environment that is welcoming to others and is not divisive, sarcastic, rude or provoking.
6) Our discussion should be centered on studying the Word of God, not opinions, feelings, or desires contrary to what scripture teaches.
7) This will consistently be a Bible study that studies a book of the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse, with reading/listening to be done during the week by the members to then come back together and share each week.
8) Each week we will decide who will be responsible for “bringing a short word/testimony” the next week about what is being studied.
9) The group leader will ask questions afterwards about the Word given and about the scripture read that week. The goal being that truth is revealed in the Word of God, that unity is reached within the group, and that we are seeking to see the work of the Holy Spirit in us applying the Word to our lives to be more like Christ.
10) This fall season, our focus is on the wisdom books. For the month of October, we are starting with the book of Proverbs, and will be reading each day the chapter that coincides with the date.
11) If you would like to receive daily text messages with links to both the written scripture and audio links for the daily reading, please let me know.
12) We will close in prayer by anyone in attendance.
13) Things said and confessed and shared within the study are not to be shared with those not present the night it was shared. The only exception to this is sharing with leadership of The Well who offers prayer, assistance, counseling and oversight. Just as gossip about outsiders is not tolerated inside the group, gossip with outsiders about those inside the group is also not to be tolerated.
The estimated/planned budget for water, cookies, juice, and cups was $10, and we collected $26 in offering tonight. Receipts and tally will be provided next week after snack purchase.
Hop will be “bringing a word” next week and everyone is asked to make prayerful consideration if they feel led to share for future dates. All are encouraged (and even expected) to participate in the question/discussion time for an abundance of wise counsel.
These were agreed to unanimously with no dissent and will be reviewed and ratified by the attendees next week as long as unity and agreement strands through a final vote next week.