Church planter, serve low-income communities
If you’re a church planter, and especially if you’re thinking about planting a church in Austin, I hope you would take these words to heart: “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10).
There are a lot of churches being planted in Austin these days, which is amazing, because Austin has been called “the hole in the Bible Belt.” Yes, we’re in Texas, but Austin is a unique city that doesn’t share the same style, culture, or values as most other cities in Texas (or the South in general). While Dallas and Houston are highly religious cities with lots of big churches, Austin has never been that way—Austin is actually the birthplace of the American Atheists organization. Christianity isn’t normal or cool here, it’s offensive and repulsive to many, or just plain irrelevant to others. So I praise God for so many churches being planted here now, and for all my pastor-friends who are doing the hard, hard, hard work of church planting and spreading the gospel, preaching Jesus, and loving their neighbors in this city. I have so many church-planter friends and mentors that I look up to and aspire to be like in terms of godliness, leadership, preaching, and pastoring. Here's what's on my heart though. We not only need more churches here, we need more churches who are devoted to caring for the poor. Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, Biblically-serious churches who are devoted to caring for the needy.
“We not only need more churches here, we need more churches who are devoted to caring for the poor. Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, Biblically-serious churches who are devoted to caring for the needy.”
One thing that grieves my heart is that out of all the churches being planted, there are not a lot of churches being planted in close proximity to low-income communities or having a focus on serving low-income families. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of families living in low-income communities around the city of Austin, and most of these families are single moms with multiple children and no father in the home. Why do we not focus our church planting efforts here? Doesn’t God call himself “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (Psalm 68:5)? Doesn’t James say that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27)? God clearly places an emphasis on ministry to the fatherless, the widow, the orphan, yet this is not usually a ministry emphasis of church planters. Low-income communities are neglected, yet this is where the greatest need in our city is.
I would love to see this trend change. I would love to see more and more and more churches planted in close proximity to low-income communities or with a focus on serving low-income families. Churches with a heart for the widow and orphan. Churches with a love for children from hard places. Churches with a passion for fostering and adoption. Churches with a desire to come alongside struggling families and mentor children and teens. Churches with a commitment to patiently care for the sick, the poor, the elderly, the marginalized. Churches with a willingness to move into a broken neighborhood and be hospitable to their neighbors. To listen, build relationships, share the gospel, start discipling, and partner with the families living there to reach more men, women, and children with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ. This is what I would love to see happen in our city. If you’re a church planter, I pray you would “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10) and take these words to heart as you think about where your church will meet and who your church will make an intentional effort to serve in Jesus’ name.