A few years ago I was invited by Pastor Nathan Ivy, from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY to talk about externally focused / justice ministry at a conference they were sponsoring. The church was in a renovated elementary school building on their midtown campus. One of the highlights was sharing the speaking platform with John Perkins. The church began as a signpost of the kingdom…what life can look like when under the reign of God. I got to taste and see what it looks like when God is at work in his people. Sojourn is not about “us” and “them,” but “we.” It’s our community. On the first floor of the building was an art gallery, on the second story were classrooms for neighborhood children. The more the church thrived the more liquor stores closed around the neighborhood. The kingdom of God…pockets of transformation…of what life could be. The church is now a four-campus multi-site church that impacts thousands around Louisville…and the world.
A couple weeks ago, Nathan dropped me a note to tell me how pleased he was that LN was launching a Justice Ministry InnovationLab this fall. He then gave me an update of what they were engaged in around justice:
Housing Development – we birthed Access Ventures, Inc., based on a financially sustainable development model. We raised funds and are renovating 20 dilapidated houses in our neighborhood. We'll eventually be transferring ownership to renters as they take part in budgeting classes, soft skills, hard skills training, workforce training, etc.
Leadership Development – currently the first 8 houses are being filled with full-time interns who move to the inner city and learn to be missionaries – under the shepherding of Sojourn pastors. We've got room for 30 this next year (you can help us find the right people). Twelve interns will be focused on mercy/justice and 18 will be focused on the marketplace.
Medical Clinics – We are on our 13th medical clinic and have provided over $1.4MM in free medical services to the entire community in the last few years. We host at least two clinics per year. We are in process of developing a sustainable model to provide ongoing medical care to the neighborhood. I'm being placed on the national board of Touched Twice United who equips churches for this kind of ministry if you want to learn more.
Sojourn Work – We are launching a 9 month top-tier fellowship that focuses on faith/work integration and mentoring by high level executives (see attached). SojournWork includes lectures, networking, community, business plan competition, and monthly discussion that connect faith and work. This is an essential piece for a successful transition to any justice ministry.
Benevolence – we are still rocking out the meeting of needs through deeds. 13 families last year were kept from eviction and we have countless other mercy stories.
Presence – We are present in our neighborhoods by frequent picnics (500 showed up last week), festivals (2,000 show up in October), sitting on neighborhood board of directors, prayer walking, visiting widows, small projects, etc. Classic Externally Focused Church!
Prison Ministry – We are reshaping a half-way house in our neighborhood, kept them from eviction, and seeking to raise funds to expand their influence.
Seed Network – I'm in the process of launching the Seed Network: churches planting biblical ministries of mercy and justice. Would love to talk to you about this too.
I've got a vision and a team to address education, but it's still far off. We also have some new advancements for a revolving loan fund to aid adoptions.
Wow! Sometime WWJD needs to move from a wristband to a lifestyle of a church if we really want to practice justice. If you have been thinking about how your church can engage in justice issues in your community, we want to invite you to check out LN’s Justice Ministry InnovationLab launching November 14-15th in Dallas. If you would like to talk further about how your church could participate in this InnovationLab, lets get a time on the phone. Contact me directly at email@example.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org and well get a time on the phone.