Paul saw a very common trend as he started churches across the Roman Empire. He would start with the dream of a church in a given city. He would engage that city with the Gospel, starting with the Jews, yet quickly spreading to the Gentiles willing to hear. There would be great excitement and a movement would arise. Obstacles, usually in the way of influential Jewish leaders, would surface that would lead to revolt and in many cases the removal of Paul from the city. However, a remnant would remain in that city sharing the Gospel with others and a strong church would begin to take shape. Many of these churches like the ones in Ephesus and Corinth became strong churches that lasted for generations.
Most churches start under similar situations. Eastern Heights was no different. Money was given, and a dream established in the 1950’s for First Baptist to start a church on the east side of Bartlesville. However, it took over ten years before, in 1968 a mission was established that became Eastern Heights Baptist Church. It took the persistence of key leaders like Bro. Ibach to keep the dream alive and start the movement to get the church started.
Though our dream of ministering to the west side is different in some ways, we can expect that starting Engage Church will find many challenges before we see a movement begin to take hold. Ministering to those in poverty has many challenges in its own right. Our partnership with Hope Clinic is key and will help legitimize our heart for them. Being in a place that is easily accessed by them is also fundamental. We have yet to find a good lead on a location to start the church. Another important part of the process is finding people who want to be part of the startup who fit the demographics we are trying to reach. I am encouraged by the number of church members ready to engage the west side, but we need to begin identifying those we can target more like those we want to reach. I have yet to even mention the funding necessary to have a location and outreach resources.
Pray for our leadership team as we continue to face these challenges. We know that the process is not going to be easy. We know that discouragement will come more often than victory. I am confident that God gave this dream and is guiding the process. May we go through the slow grind, so we can experience the movement that is sure to come. Paul has set for us a great example.