What We Mean by "Planting Outreach Ministries"
The Philip Center serves as a catalyst for outreach ministries. We work with churches, and occassionally with para-church ministries that are also oriented to serving local churches.
We heartlily embrace the Foundation Documents of The Gospel Coalition. But even churches that are "deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures" struggle with gospel outreach. For many reasons, evangelistic outreach is hard.
So The Philip Center is devoted to serving churches as they seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes our planting projects are small. Planting an outreach ministry may involve helping to get a new, 8-week evangelism training course off the ground.
Or planting a new ministry may be a two-year process of helping a church renew their outreach by working with the elders. We may help them re-craft their mission conference ("Reaching Jerusalem with the Gospel") and then establish a new deacon of outreach.
Other times the scope of a project may be much larger. Establishing a new ministy may involve being a catalyst for a church plant. We have helped to plant Godspeed Fellowship (Seekonk, MA) and are currently working to establish a new church in Providence, RI.
What We Mean by "Growing Outreach Leaders"
"If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere." -Al Mohler
The Philip center is passionate about growing leaders with a mind and heart for sustainable gospel outreach. We do that through mentoring, preaching, seminars and online materials. As we initiate ministries, we focus on the leader or leaders it will take to sustain outreach. We believe that Christ has given evangelists to the church to sustain the work of outreach. So we help identify those leaders and mentor them to equip the whole church in fruitful gospel outreach.
We are strongly committed to the kind of convictional leadership that Al Mohler talks about in The Conviction to Lead. "If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere" (20).
Too often, evangelism is relegated to the arena of pragmatism. Hope for evangelistic fruit, in that case, is placed in skills and methods and programs. But we believe that leadership in the mission comes from gospel-rich, biblically-explicit conviction.
We take this passion for evangelism leadership and apply it three ways:
- Meeting with current church leaders, to renew their hearts and their plans for reaching the. This is often in conjunction with meetings about a new, or renewed, outreach ministry in their church.
- Internships for college or seminary students and graduates. We are eager to impart a vision for outreach leadership to those who are headed into vocational or lay leadership in the local church.
- Hands-on training of teens through Summer OFF. This is what we are excited about the most. We seek to warm the hearts of teens to the gospel. We love to watch the "expulsive power of a new affection" (Thomas Chalmers) work on their hearts and motivate them to a lifetime of church service and leadership. So Summer OFF is deliberately both an outreach and a leadership mentoring ministry.
With all of our leadership equipping, we talk a lot about the "Gospel for Me, the Gospel for You." The gospel for you is what we share with non-Christians. The gospel for me is the same gospel — working in the heart of the "messenger" to bring transformation into Christ-likeness. We press the need communicate the gospel faithfully and richly from Scripture, and at the same time, press the gospel into our own hearts, for conviction and transformation.
Some of the resources we use include The Gospel-Centered Life and Gospel Transformation. We equip our teens with "Who Will Be King", as they seek to share the gospel with children. We like it because it orients both the non-Christian and the Christian to a life of discipleship right from the beginning, not just to conversion.