Disciples News Service

Congregation partners locally to open mission house

by Rev. Nathan C. Brown, senior minister

Timing is everything. Or at least that’s what I used to believe before coming to First Christian Church of Hopkinsville in the spring of 2010. I arrived knowing that in the two years leading up to my acceptance of the position as Senior Minister, the church had completed a $600,000 capital renovation project, invested $30,000 in a new preschool program, partnered with Christian Care Communities in an effort to build an Alzheimer’s Adult Day Care Center, investing $100,000 in land across the street from the church, and all of this in the midst of losing an associate minister, a senior minister, and enduring an ongoing economic recession. I began to wonder, timing is everything?

Within the first couple of months of our ministry together, I discovered that the church had set aside a portion of money from their capital campaign for an unknown local outreach project. We kept that in mind as we entered into a visioning process at the end of our first year together. That particular year, we were blessed with a $50,000 surplus from our budget.  Subsequently, we decided to allocate a portion of our surplus to some kind of local outreach project as well. Combining the money already set aside from the capital campaign with a portion from our surplus would allow us to have a significant impact on our community.

Thus began our partnership with Challenge House, a non-profit organization aimed at community revitalization, one neighborhood at a time. Challenge House buys houses in under-resourced areas, remolds them into community centers for the neighborhood, and calls ambassadors to live in the houses, regulating programs and building relationships with their neighbors.

Our congregation decided to give the money to Challenge House to buy a house in the neighborhood of our church. A contractor in our congregation, along with volunteers from the church, gave of their time, resources, and gifts to remodel the home. On Palm Sunday (April 13th), church members, local community representatives and families from the neighborhood gathered at Challenge House #5 for an open house and house blessing.

The church will now work with the ambassador and her family to provide programming in the neighborhood like tutoring for children, GED classes, skills for life training, and Bible study.  Challenge House #5 has become part of First Christian Church’s overall Vision and is our primary local outreach project. The congregation is excited, as they feel ownership of a specific, unique ministry that is making a difference not only in our community, but right outside the doors of our building.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, the writer declares, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” As I look back on the wilderness in which the church found itself four years ago, reflecting on all that has transpired since then leading us toward a renewed purpose in our ministry, I am reminded of these words from Ecclesiastes. But I am also reminded that I was wrong. Timing is not everything. God’s timing is everything.