When my husband and I moved into our new home after being married for only 2 years, we had no clue we’d meet a young boy who would lead us into ministering to 40 kids every week. My husband and I felt a call to move into the low income and culturally diverse neighborhood of North Minneapolis. We wanted to intentionally be the minority.
We had no plans to start a nonprofit for neighborhood kids, doing dinner, working on homework, playing games, and interacting in kid’s lives. Yet, within just a few months of moving into our new home, once a week we had 40 people in our house. This eventually became the nonprofit that it is today: Antioch Ministries
We didn’t have a clear, designed plan for this; we just said yes to God at each step along the way. We didn’t know how this would play out, but we’ve learned a lot. Here are three key things we discovered about starting authentic ministry.
How can we be active in what God’s doing if we’re not ultimately connected to him? We took time to listen to what God was telling us, what others were thinking or hearing, and asked for peace and wisdom in making the decision to start this ministry.
Keep your head up. Open your eyes. Be aware of what is happening around you. Ask how you can be involved with what God is doing. Our first relationship in our neighborhood was with that one young boy. He walked by and asked us if he could help move boxes. We engaged and said yes.
He ended up joining our family that night for dinner. The next day he came by again; it became a reoccurring thing. We brought him to church with us, along with his sister and various cousins or friends depending on who he was with that week. Our church didn't have a youth group at the time, so they came to our small group. Eventually, we decided it'd be better for adults and kids to meet separately. So, we offered Wednesday evenings to them for dinner, homework help, games, and reading the bible. That one relationship led to hundreds more.
What opportunities could you be missing out on because you haven’t listened, looked, or asked the Holy Spirit what He’s up to?
Use your giftings
My husband is the “typical” evangelist. He is very outgoing, can easily talk about God, and feels very comfortable praying for strangers. God uses those gifts, of course. When I think about impacting my neighbors for the Kingdom, I realize I do not naturally have many of those evangelistic gifts. Yet, I have gifts of hospitality, compassion, generosity, and serving. Hosting 40 people every week at our home is definitely using those gifts to the max.
What about you? What are you good at? Are you really kind? Do you love to give? Maybe it excites you to think about just sitting with someone who needs a friend? That is how you bring someone closer to the kingdom. When you are active in your God-given gifts, you show people Jesus and that is our ultimate goal on this earth.
Knowing the God of the universe is a blessing beyond what we can comprehend. We’ve all been told to love our neighbor, whether that’s in the form of planting a church, starting a nonprofit, or making someone zucchini bread. Caring and loving for one another involves not just our spiritual being, but also our physical and emotional selves. We need to pray, engage, and know our gifts and strengths so that we can make a natural impact in the most authentic and powerful way.
Amy Whitmore lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband Scott and four kiddos. They co-founded the non-profit, Antioch Ministries, in North Minneapolis in 2007 but currently team together in their family business. She has actively led worship for the last 20 years and proudly calls Mercy Vineyard home.