I have been sitting on this news for a while, but I am excited to announce that this website will soon be coming to you from Houston instead of Wake Forest.
From my perspective, Houston is one of the most strategic cities for urban missions in the United States. First, it is growing rapidly. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the US and will most likely pass Chicago in coming years as our third largest city. Second, that growth is not just any growth. Much of Houston’s growth is made up of radically diverse populations of peoples from all over the world. Hundreds of people groups call this one metro area home, making it one of the most diverse cities in the US. The nations are living in Houston. Finally, Houston does have healthy churches. Of course, no one church can reach a city. And when it is a city the size of Houston, the effort is magnified exponentially. For the church universal to make a dent in Houston’s lostness, it will take a cooperative effort of local churches working together to plant more churches in a diverse cross-section of cultural manifestations. Houston needs churches in dozens of languages with dozens of cultural expressions of the gospel.
Starting next week, I will be working with the Union Baptist Association in Houston as a consultant with an emphasis on urban mission strategy. I have known the team at UBA for a long time now and cannot wait to join the good work they are already doing. My role is a work in progress, but I will be aiding with a number of initiatives in Houston that are very close to my heart. A portion of my work will be dedicated to urban research and the development of healthy missiological methods and tools for church planting and revitalization in Houston’s diverse urban areas. I will be training and consulting churches for this unique task, helping them think through church health, local planting, and global sending.
I am especially excited about the opportunity to help local churches in Houston think about what it means to find and engage unreached people groups in their own city. There may be no better place than Houston for local churches to take the gospel to the nations and their neighbors at the same time.
This is my last week in the office at the Center for Great Commission Studies, but that does not mean the end to the Peoples Next Door. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is committed to continued partnership and resourcing the church for reaching the nations right here in our neighborhoods. The website, its resources, and regular articles will continue. Now, I will simply be writing from the middle of one of the largest living laboratories for the effort! Plans are still rolling along for Reaching the Nations in North America 2017, hosted at Southeastern in October. If you have not done so, reserve your tickets now and I will see you there!
This is a bittersweet moment for my wife and me, as I step down from pastoring our church and we both step away from our roles at Southeastern. I know few institutions as committed to equipping churches for the Great Commission as Southeastern. Our team here is second to none, and we will both miss them. Even more significantly, Imago Dei Church has changed the way we understand being part of the household of God. They are the truest family of believers anyone could ask for, and it pains us to leave. Yet, God’s call on us is unmistakable. This process has taken over a year of consideration, counsel, and prayer. We know, our church and other elders know, and we are excited that we can follow God to the work he is doing in Houston.
Pray with us, that God’s name will be known, his grace accepted, and his will obeyed among the multitudes of Houston and to the ends of the earth.