Monday, August 4, 2014

Multi-Housing Ministry Opportunities

Simply put, the term multi-housing refers to anywhere that people live in close proximity and share rules and amenities. That means apartments, town houses, senior homes, college dorms, and even prisons are considered multi-housing facilities. In the U.S., 30 to 40 percent of a city's population lives in multi-housing accommodations, and this percentage is even higher in larger cities. Here are some multi-housing ministry opportunities that could open the door to ministry for your church:
  • Often more than 90% of the population within a multi-housing site is made up of unchurched people.
  • Most groups develop a unique culture among themselves and function as if all people (including the community at large) understand daily living the same as they do. 
  • Their connection to each other seems to be deeper than just their geographical location. While this is not true in every case, it is commonly seen. The connection that develops in these unchurched groups is similar to what is seen in unreached people groups. 
According to the U.S. Center for World Missions, a People Group (or People)  is a significantly large ethnic or sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another. For evangelistic purposes, it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.  An Unreached People Group, sometimes called "Hidden Peoples," is a people group which has no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to finish evangelizing their community without further outside/cross-cultural assistance.
  • As the residents of these multi-housing areas appear to be unreachable from the pulpit of the local church, it is evident that something more needs be done. 
  • Evangelism, though important, may have added to the problems within the lower income areas. Typically, the local church ministered through offering up acts of servant evangelism, but without adequate follow up. It is this lack of follow up that may, in the long run, have a negative impact on some individuals. 
  • The problem is not a lack of caring within the churches and congregations, but a persistent cultural trait that keep these residents from attending the local church. The barrier does not always exist in the same form, but by nature it exists.
Danny Cunningham, Church Planting Catalyst for the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists states that:
"Our goal is to take the church to the multi-housing site, 
essentially plant a church within that community."

He helps churches by leading them to:

  • Take an apartment or community room, clubhouse or chapel and make it the location for a new church plant.  This is a very low cost and easily implemented option for the local church. 
  • Training a small group from the sponsoring church on how to move into a multi-housing location and plant a church by using material already available, or by training a church member who feels the calling can plant a church by spending time with the residents until some type of ministry is started through those relationships. 
What will a Multi-Housing Church Plant Look Like?
A church plant inside a multi-housing facility will not look the same as a conventional church. The requirements for the multi-housing church are practicing baptism and communion, tithing with giving to missions, evangelism, and discipling. Flexibility of meeting times and locations will often allow the church planter to continue attending the sponsor church with no interruption. This ministry can be a win-win situation for the manager of the facility, the community, and the church.

Our thanks to 4:12 member, Danny Cunningham, for helping us understand multi-housing ministry. Feel free to check out his profile on the 4:12 network, and to search for others who can help you with your training needs.