What if a church started meeting a community’s needs before it ever opened its doors?

29 Oct

Water, health, education and electricity.  The Centro Cristiano Bendicion (CCB) in the Dominican Republic identified the four top needs of Dominicanos, particularly those who live in very poor conditions.  Water is there, but no one would consider drinking it.  Amoebas and dysentery are sure to follow every drink from this unreliable source.  So clean, filtered water is purchased in five gallon containers, an expensive proposition for many. 

Enter the CCB, led and organized by Domincan nationals.  A community is identified and a small water filtration storefront is opened.  Water is sold at half the cost of commercial providers.  Neighbors come for the water and get to know the staff who serve with a kind word and a blessing.  Soon a small building is rented close by.  A pastor family engages with the community through the water ministry and beings ministering to the spiritual needs of the people who come.  A church begins naturally and grows as the community begins to understand that this church is different…it truly cares about serving them. 
Education, though provided by the government, is often inaccessible due to travel and distance.  The church begins a small school.  Children bring their homework to their parents who are unable to help.  So evening classes are begun to help parents learn to read and write.  In one community the shanty homes offer no protection during seasonal hurricanes, so the church built its rough sanctuary as a storm shelter for the hundreds who have no other option.  Health clinics are provided during the week, along with children’s activities. 
Meanwhile, through discipleship and mentoring, people who have found Christ begin to understand how He has gifted them.  New pastors are trained and new communities are opened.  Income from the water and school activities do not go to the local church, but instead are fully invested in opening new locations for new works.
The church planting model is unique in that the CCB is one church with multiple locations.  Each Sunday the same topic is used in every location.  Pastoral staff are shared among all locations and retreats and other church events include both the poor and the middle-class together.  With all learning together and all serving the same goal of reaching the DR for Christ, this model is destined to continue a strong and consistent growth path.

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