Many times, when I tell people I am an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, one of the first questions they ask is, "Where is your church?" To which I reply, "I am actually a Community Chaplain, and I worship on Sundays at an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I am not the pastor there. But I lead a small missional community/ house church that gathers in my house on Saturday evenings."
Then I proceed to let people know that I connect a diverse community of people and organizations for the social and spiritual renewal of the Third Ward. I also connect with and serve with already existing networks that are working for renewal in our neighborhood. Oh, and yeah; I am also in the process of starting a non-profit organization that focuses on educational justice, leadership formation, and community transformation.
As you may have guessed, at this point things can seem a little confusing. How does it all work together? Is there congruence and cohesion to all these different affiliations? What picture can we use to describe my work, responsibilities and relationships as a community chaplain in Houston's historic Third Ward?
The best picture that we have reached for the posture of our ministry is a Venn diagram ( see picture above) with three different sets.
1. Missional Community: 3 years ago, we started a faith community, gathering weekly in our living room, seeking to grow our faith in Jesus Christ through three rhythms; study of scripture, service to our city, and celebration of the world around us. As a missional community, we describe ourselves as an extended family that joins Christ in his redemptive and restorative work in this world in the places where we already are.
2. Transformational Network: transformational networks are diverse communities of service and learning, training people in an integral worldview, and connecting them for the social and spiritual renewal of their communities. I serve as a chaplain to a network of pastors and non-profit leaders who God has called to actively seek the peace of the Third Ward.
3. Transformation Initiative: I believe the Third Ward is a neighborhood that overflows with the abundance of God. It is a neighborhood that is full of leaders. With two of the biggest universities in Houston in the Third Ward, (University of Houston & Texas Southern University), this neighborhood holds some of the greatest assets for transformation in a grassroots way.
While great higher educational institutions exist in the Third Ward, we know that not all college-aged and college-ready residents have equal access to these schools. We want to level the playing field by providing full-time scholarships to a few emerging urban leaders who view their education as an opportunity to become gospel-shaped leaders with purpose who transform their communities.
I hope this at least begins to help you understand how God is placing our ministry Houston's historic Third Ward. I am more than happy to answer any questions. Over the next few months, I'll periodically give updates about the various facets of our ministry.