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Greatest Hit: Making Space to Engage Our Neighbors

This fall, in addition to sharing reflections on “what is saving your ministry right now?”, we are also bringing back some of our most popular posts over the last couple of years. We hope these “greatest hits” will allow you new insight in this busy time of year. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

This post on multicultural ministry and community engagement is one of our most popular posts in the history of the NEXT Church blog. We’ve updated it slightly below in hopes it becomes a fresh resource as you look towards December.

By Rachel Triska

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in our coffee bar during an event and overheard a conversation that made me smile. A tech company had brought 125 of their employees from across the globe to our space for a major annual meeting. One of the guests was visiting with Kevin (a Dallas cop who runs security for all our events). The gentleman asked Kevin, “So what is this place?” Kevin began to give him our elevator pitch, “Life in Deep Ellum is a cultural center built for the artistic, social, economic and spiritual benefit of Deep Ellum and urban Dallas.” Then he added, “Basically, it’s a church that opens up to the community for a lot of different things. I’m here all the time – art shows, corporate events, fundraisers.” To which the gentleman responded, “You could have asked me for a list of twenty guesses – a church would not have been one of them.”

From the Life in Deep Ellum Facebook page

From the Life in Deep Ellum Facebook page

Joel and I have been pastoring together at Life in Deep Ellum for almost six years. Deep Ellum is a historic neighborhood just outside downtown Dallas. It’s often described as the Brooklyn of the South. Basically, it’s a small neighborhood with a big personality – lots of artists, entrepreneurs and folks who pride themselves on not needing God.

It’s that last characteristic that forced us to think differently about how to engage our neighborhood – traditional methods of outreach were not working. It was my husband who first pointed out what this neighborhood was forcing us to do. It forced us to stop thinking like pastors and start thinking like missionaries.

He was absolutely right. We found that to connect with our neighborhood we had to slow down enough to learn the language, the customs, how to appreciate their sense of humor. Some people might say we’ve kind of gone native. Ministering in this neighborhood certainly changed us.

What I love about thinking like a missionary is it taught me to think beyond Sundays. To think about how we might engage our neighbors seven days a week. That’s how we reached the decision to operate as a cultural center Monday-Friday.

Every Sunday we stack all the chairs in our venue (worship space) and put them away. Our band clears the stage. We take down all our church-specific signage. We clear out because we are making space to engage our neighbors. Those very same neighbors who say they will never go to church but hang out with us in our building all the time. On Tuesday nights a dance company takes over the space. Mondays and Wednesdays we host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In the next few weeks we’ll host a book launch for a local author, a closing reception for an art exhibit and have 500 teens in for a spoken word event.

Each year, not including Sundays, we see between 10,000 and 20,000 people come through our building. Our coffee shop will serve somewhere around 35,000 cups of coffee this year.

A lot can happen when we think beyond Sundays. One of our friends who first engaged with us via community events says, “What happens here Monday through Friday is why I gave Sundays a chance. And what happens here on Sundays restored my faith in what Christian community can be.”

We use Monday through Friday as an opportunity to redefine for people what it looks like to be the Church on mission. And often, it does open their hearts to what happens on Sunday.


Rachel Triska is the Chief Practicioner at Life in Deep Ellum. Rachel enjoys running, reading the classics, and expressing her inner child while playing with her two daughters. rachel@lifeindeepellum.com

 

Looking for more? Check out the resources below from NEXT:

Reluctant Companions—Part I

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During June, Therese Taylor-Stinson is curating a month of blog posts exploring Contemplation and Social Justice, featuring posts by member os the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, Ltd. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Cynthia Bailey Manns

Faith, Race, and Politics…. Each word alone can cause one to hesitate to enter into conversation with another. Yet, we are all accompanying each other on this journey we call life. How do we live “The Golden Rule” of treating others as we wish to be treated as we engage in sacred, non-polarizing conversations that must to be had to continue to evolve as a society?

About a month ago, I felt myself becoming discouraged with the continual negative, antagonistic discourse, from all sides, regarding these topics. I know my responses are viewed through the lenses of my life experiences and theology. I am an African American woman with a Caucasian great-great-great grandfather. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when societal change was creating excitement and fear simultaneously. Since my father was in the Army, I lived throughout the United States and Germany. I was frequently the only little black girl in my classes at school on the Army bases, yet, when I visited my grandparents in Alabama, things were quite different. We couldn’t try on clothes at certain stores, couldn’t eat in certain restaurants, had to drink from the “colored” water fountains and go up the back stairs of the movie theatre to sit in the balcony with the other “colored” people. Living in both realms of reality, segregation and integration, I knew discrimination was unjust because I had experienced freedom. Grounding my intense discontent with inequality was my unwavering knowing that God did not mean for some people to be treated so badly and others not.

Today we are still struggling with the intersection of these concepts–Faith, Race, and Politics. The U.S. continues to grow more ethnically, racially, and spiritually diverse. The Pew Research Center estimates that the Millennial Generation (18-33) is unattached to organized politics and religion, and is America’s most racially diverse generation. In T.D. Jake’s Huffington Post blog, he reminds us that, in the coming decade, one third of the 73 million people on the planet will identify as Christians, and due to this explosive growth occurring predominately in Africa and Europe, the next millennium Christian will be increasing non-white. By 2050, our racial categories will continue to dismantle as racial intermarriage increases, and by 2060, the changing face of America will be 43 percent white, 13 percent black, 31 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian, and 6 percent other. Finally, the Pew Research Center informs us that partisan animosity continues to increase with political parties viewing the others as a “threat to the nation’s well-being.”

So, how do we encourage dialogue and action around these topics? Might I suggest we begin with self? I recognize I need to be more contemplative about my response to the turbulent discourse. In her book Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill describes the work of contemplation as “the gradual development of an extraordinary faculty of concentration, a power of spiritual attention.” How do I engage “spiritual attention” to ensure God is present in me in my words and actions with others? How do I engage “special attention” so I can encounter the Christ who is present in the other, in me, and all our surroundings?

Until Reluctant Companions—Part II, ponder these words….

“Everything we think, say, and do is prayer.”  (Neale Donald Walsh)

“I think when push comes to shove people need to remember that, underneath all the pain, hurt, anger, pride, and lies, we are all the same. Human.” (Aimee)

“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.” (Anthony Bourdain)


 

Cynthia Bailey MannsCynthia Bailey Manns, M.A., currently serves as a spiritual director and educator. Her ministry also includes workshop and retreat facilitation. Cynthia is currently completing her Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Direction.

 

 

MINISTERIO AGAPE

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, orTwitter!

*If you do not read Spanish, please scroll down for an English translation in blue

By Antonio Pichardo

Hola Pastor,

Mi llamado al pastorado fue en Canadá, desde que me convertí al Cristianismo mi deseo fue siempre de ser un pastor, trabaje en canada plantando una iglesia luego de cincos años salimos para la ciudad de Modesto en California donde también plantamos otra y después vinimos a Mount Pleasant para ayudar un amigo pastor al cual le avía dado un ataque al corazón y a mí y a mi esposa nos gustó esta parte del noroeste del estado por lo cual después de haber ido a trabajar en dos obras en Belmond y Hampton Iowa decidimos venir a esta ciudad nuevamente.

Vinimos con muchos entusiasmos y nuestra primera actitud era de venir a trabajar con la iglesia Presbiteriana gracias a Dios si tocamos la puerta y esta ce abrió en una forma maravillosa aquí estamos desde el 12 de Enero 2014 como ministerio ágape y la iglesia Monte Horeb se abrió unos tres meses más tarde estamos confiando en Dios que más puertas se van abrir para seguir la visión.

La visión mía es que iglesias planten iglesias, tenemos muchas familias hispanas en este estado y necesitamos la presencia de doctrina reformada en todas estas comunidades, necesitamos iglesia en Austin, en Dallas, Longview, Taylor y muchas otras ciudades que podamos ir.

En esta comunidad en la que vivimos el 57% de los niños en las escuela son de origen hispano tenemos la primera generación aquí que no habla inglés, pero segunda y tercera generación todos ellos hablan inglés, necesitamos todas estas gentes, ya que muchas de estas personas nos la están ganando otras religiones.

Seguimos trabajando con un grupo más o menos de cuarenta personas pero con una visión de crecer, hemos pensado para este verano tener un concierto y otras actividades para hacer venir las gentes a la iglesia, seguimos necesitando ayuda en oración para que Dios haga lo que él se ha propuesto hacer en estas comunidades donde estamos.

Le pedimos a Dios un ministerio en la ciudad de Dallas, esperamos que esas puertas sean abiertas a su tiempo.

Aquí le mando una foto de nuestro primer servicio en Mount Pleasant el día 12-2014.

Estamos muy contentos de poder ser parte de la iglesia presbiteriana muchas gracia por dejarnos servirles Dios y a ustedes.

Muchas bendiciones

Pastor, Antonio Pichardo

ministerio agape

From the moment I converted to Christianity my desire was always to be a pastor. I was called to the pastorate when I was in Canada. While I was in Canada, I worked planting a church. Five years later, my wife and I left Canada for Modesto, California. We also planted a church in that city. During that time, we came to Mount Pleasant for a few months to help a pastor friend who had a heart attack. My wife and I enjoyed this Northeast part of the state. After that short time in Texas, we went on to work with two congregations in Iowa (Belmond and Hampton). We decided to return to Mount Pleasant again when the ministry was finished in Iowa.

We came to Mount Pleasant with much enthusiasm. Our first act was to make contact with the Presbyterian Church (because they are so close to the Reformed Church). Thanks be to God we knocked on the door and it was opened wide for us in a wonderful and welcoming way. Ministerio Agape has been going since the 12th of January 2014. Then three months later Monte Horeb was started in the neighboring Pittsburg, Texas (we are hoping it will soon be a new worshiping community). We are confident that God will open more doors in accordance with our vision.

My vision is to plant churches. There are many Hispanic families in this state and we need the presence of Reformed doctrine in all these communities. We need more Latino churches in Austin, Dallas, Longview, Tyler and many other cities that we can expand to.

In our small community of Mount Pleasant, 57% of the children in the schools are of Latino origin. The first generation here does not speak English, but the second and third generations all speak English well. We need all these people both those who only speak Spanish and those who are bilingual. Already we are bringing many people in who have backgrounds in other denominations.

At this time we are working with a group of about 40 people, but we have a vision to continue to grow. This summer we are thinking about having a concert and other activities in order to attract people to the church. We continue to need support through prayer so that God will do what God has purposed for these communities where we are working.

We ask God for a new ministry in the city Dallas. We hope that once again doors will be open on God’s time.

The attached photos are from our first service in Mount Pleasant on January 12, 2014.

We are extremely happy to be part of the Presbyterian Church! Thank you for helping us serve God and all of you in any way we can.

Many blessings,

Antonio Pichardo


Antonio PichardoAntonio Pichardo serves Ministerios Agape, a new worshipping community in partnership with First Presbyterian Church of Mount Pleasant, TX. 

Wayward White Boy and his Latino/a Friends: A Pastor Blessed by a Blossoming Spanish-speaking Ministry

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, orTwitter!

By Shane Webb

Ministerio Agape came onto the scene when a curious Latino leader knocked on the door of the First Presbyterian Church of Mount Pleasant, Texas. Antonio Pichardo is a man full of energy and a contagious laugh, who also happens to have a strong passion for Reformed Theology. As a bilingual pastor who gets excited about cross cultural ministry, I invited Antonio to explore with FPC the possibilities of joint ministry. I had wanted to get a Spanish-speaking service started for our congregation on my own, but had no luck finding interest in the community, though I met a bunch of fun Spanish-speakers playing soccer. By the time I providentially met Antonio, all my contacts and leads had dried up and I had all but given up on the project. When he came to meet with me, I immediately thought that 1001 New Worshiping Communities (NWC) would be the best way to get this ministry started. Once the idea was pitched to the session of FPC they quickly gave support, though they stipulated a one year agreement that would need to be renewed to make sure that the ministry would be respectful of our facilities (they had a problem with another housed congregation in the past). A small group of about 15 native Spanish-speakers met to discuss what the ministry might look like and vote on both the name and service times. After getting started, a group in neighboring Pittsburg, TX wanted to get a Spanish-speaking congregation going. It has been a little over a year, and they have doubled their regular attendance. Bible study and worship are their main focus but they also have prayer groups and outreach.

As the pastor of FPC and the point person for the NWC, Ministerio Agape, I have various roles. First and foremost, I am a cheerleader. I pray for them and support them as best as I can, encouraging them in their ministry. This includes communicating with the presbytery to keep them aware of what is happening and bugging them for resources and help. I also act as an assisting pastor, trying to maintain that Antonio is the leader and I am just a support. At first, I was extremely involved administering sacraments for their worship and occasionally preaching. Now they have elders and permission for Antonio to administer the sacraments as a ruling elder with seminary training and previous experience as a commissioned pastor in the Reformed Church of America. Another role I have taken on is grant writing. There are many applications and essays to be written in order to participate in the 1001 NWC. I did not learn that in seminary, but I had a little bit of practice while I was at Austin College. Finally, one of my most important roles is as bridge-builder. Antonio has a support committee, which he can call on at any time from the FPC. In the FPC-Ministerio Agape mission partnership, we covenant with each other to have worship together at least biannually and share events with one another. Part of this role is also connecting Antonio and other Ministerio Agape leaders with people throughout Grace Presbytery. Functionally at this time, the people of Ministerio Agape become members of FPC so they can have full rights and privileges until they decide to become their own church. For me, it has been a fun, exciting and Spirit-filled adventure. I am proud of their involvement in the community and their vigor for making disciples of Christ. Not to mention I enjoy crashing their fellowship events for their great Salvadoran, Dominican and Mexican cuisine. To God be the Glory!

Yours in Christ,

Shane


Shane WebbShane started his ordained ministry in Lima, Peru where he and his wife, Sarah, served as Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs). He moved to Mount Pleasant in 2012 to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Shane is a graduate of Austin College and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  He serves as pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Mount Pleasant, TX where he hopes to help the members of FPC reach out to their community and share their faith in Jesus Christ.

Life in Deep Ellum: A Prophetic Proclamation

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, orTwitter!

by Joel Triska

In 2006, the Dallas Observer heralded the front page story, Deep Sixed: Reports of Deep Ellum’s death are exaggerated, but not by much. The story was about our beloved neighborhood, Deep Ellum (pronounced eL-uhm). In the early 1900’s, Deep Ellum was a place for the marginalized. If you followed Elm Street out of downtown Dallas, it plummeted into a world of saloons, small shops, and jazz musicians. Since it’s inhabitants were mostly freed slaves and Jewish immigrants, the community became known as “Deep” in reference to it’s location from downtown and “Ellum”for it’s colloquial pronunciation of Elm.

Deep Ellum has seen its heydays, but in 2006 we were dying. That’s when our church decided to take a very different approach to serving our neighborhood. Typically, the Church has looked for what is broken in a culture and strove to fix it. This has led to many beautiful developments in education, confronting crime, and addressing poverty. Of course, all of these efforts honor God and have their place in the Kingdom. However, we decided to focus our intentions on the strengths of the neighborhood instead.

In partnership with the Sociology department at Baylor University, we conducted a massive survey of Deep Ellum. Instead of looking for the weaknesses, we looked for the strengths. So after about 1,000 street interviews, Baylor helped us compile the data and shrunk it down to four strengths – four community assets. For us, these strengths represented the areas where the Spirit of God was already at work in our neighborhood. So by supporting these community assets, we were partnering with God’s dream for Deep Ellum.

Armed with this valuable information, we painfully let go of our old strategies. They weren’t really working anyways, so we might as well try something new, right? After some fundraising, we remodeled our space into a Cultural Center built on four pillars: Art, Music, Commerce (or entrepreneurship), and Community. Four community assets. In addition, as the Dallas Observer announced the death of Deep Ellum, we strategically named our church Life in Deep Ellum. It was a prophetic proclamation over our community. While others saw decay, we spoke life.

Our building has a coffee shop which serves as a hub for the community. It offers hospitality to the many patrons we serve throughout the week. We also curate an art gallery which strives to find local artists and give them their first solo exhibit. We lease space to business startups, host community events/concerts, and all the time hold church services on Sundays. Like the New Testament teaches, we don’t equate “church” with a building. Our people are the church. Our building is our mission.

This is the short version of how our church became an incarnational faith community – reflecting the ethos of our surroundings. In Texas, churches have a tendency to stick out with their sprawling parking lots which remain empty Monday through Saturday. The irreligious often see them as intrusions into the landscape. It is our heart to challenge the American Church to work with their neighbors so they can be integrated into the fabric of their context. When we engage our neighbors, we will naturally find ways to connect. New programs will launch and new partnerships will form. Often, this will slowly fill up our parking lots during the week, too. The question we like to ask others (and continually ask ourselves) is this: What if we could be a church not just in the community, but a church for the community? The answer will look different for us all, but it also has the power of reconnecting the Christian faith with an increasingly post-Christian context.


JoelTriskaJoel Triska is the Resident Philosopher at Life in Deep Ellum, a cultural center built for the artistic, social, economic and spiritual benefit of Deep Ellum and urban Dallas. He also co-pastors The Gathering at Life in Deep Ellum with her wife Rachel. Their work in Deep Ellum has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times and Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal.

Making Space to Engage Our Neighbors

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, orTwitter!

By Rachel Triska

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in our coffee bar during an event and overheard a conversation that made me smile. A tech company had brought 125 of their employees from across the globe to our space for a major annual meeting. One of the guests was visiting with Kevin (a Dallas cop who runs security for all our events). The gentleman asked Kevin, “So what is this place?” Kevin began to give him our elevator pitch, “Life in Deep Ellum is a cultural center built for the artistic, social, economic and spiritual benefit of Deep Ellum and urban Dallas.” Then he added, “Basically, it’s a church that opens up to the community for a lot of different things. I’m here all the time – art shows, corporate events, fundraisers.” To which the gentleman responded, “You could have asked me for a list of twenty guesses – a church would not have been one of them.”

From the Life in Deep Ellum   Facebook page

From the Life in Deep Ellum Facebook page

Joel and I have been pastoring together at Life in Deep Ellum for almost six years. Deep Ellum is a historic neighborhood just outside downtown Dallas. It’s often described as the Brooklyn of the South. Basically, it’s a small neighborhood with a big personality – lots of artists, entrepreneurs and folks who pride themselves on not needing God.

It’s that last characteristic that forced us to think differently about how to engage our neighborhood – traditional methods of outreach were not working. It was my husband who first pointed out what this neighborhood was forcing us to do. It forced us to stop thinking like pastors and start thinking like missionaries.

He was absolutely right. We found that to connect with our neighborhood we had to slow down enough to learn the language, the customs, how to appreciate their sense of humor. Some people might say we’ve kind of gone native. Ministering in this neighborhood certainly changed us.

What I love about thinking like a missionary is it taught me to think beyond Sundays. To think about how we might engage our neighbors seven days a week. That’s how we reached the decision to operate as a cultural center Monday-Friday.

Every Sunday we stack all the chairs in our venue (worship space) and put them away. Our band clears the stage. We take down all our church-specific signage. We clear out because we are making space to engage our neighbors. Those very same neighbors who say they will never go to church but hang out with us in our building all the time. On Tuesday nights a dance company takes over the space. Mondays and Wednesdays we host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In the next few weeks we’ll host a book launch for a local author, a closing reception for an art exhibit and have 500 teens in for a spoken word event.

Each year, not including Sundays, we see between 10,000 and 20,000 people come through our building. Our coffee shop will serve somewhere around 35,000 cups of coffee this year.

A lot can happen when we think beyond Sundays. One of our friends who first engaged with us via community events says, “What happens here Monday through Friday is why I gave Sundays a chance. And what happens here on Sundays restored my faith in what Christian community can be.”

We use Monday through Friday as an opportunity to redefine for people what it looks like to be the Church on mission. And often, it does open their hearts to what happens on Sunday.


Rachel Triska is the Chief Practicioner at Life in Deep Ellum. Rachel enjoys running, reading the classics, and expressing her inner child while playing with her two daughters. rachel@lifeindeepellum.com

The Multicultural NEXT Church

Graphic reposted from Facts and Trends

Graphic reposted from Facts and Trends

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Read more

Seeing Jesus in the Stranger

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During April, as we continue to process the 2015 National Gathering, Joe Clifford is curating a month of blog posts exploring multiculturalism in the NEXT Church. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

By Joe Clifford

As we enter the season of Eastertide and consider the ways the risen Christ is working among the church, I am reminded of Luke’s story about the road to Emmaus.  You’ll remember that Cleopas and his companion are making their way home from Jerusalem following the crucifixion when they are met by a stranger on the road who asks them what they’re talking about. “Don’t you know what’s happened?” they respond.  And they proceed to tell the stranger about the crucifixion and the death of their hopes and dreams.  They mention rumors of resurrection, but they’re not buying it.

Like Cleopas and his companion, we talk a lot about the bad news these days, about the death of the church and the decline of Mainline Protestantism.  We know the statistics.  Mark Chaves of Duke Divinity School points out that no indicator of traditional belief and practice is on the rise.   Only 25% of Americans regularly attend worship services, and regularly now means once or twice a month.  In the past 20 years, the number of people saying they adhere to no religion at all– the “nones”–increased from 2 or 3 percent in 1990 to close to 17 percent in 2010, with the number of “nones” increasing most dramatically among young adults, with over 25% of Millennials reporting no church affiliation.  Only 15% of Millennials say that living a “very religious” life is important to them.  Institutional religion as we have known it is dying.  We would likely say to the stranger, “Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s happening in the Jerusalem that is the institutional church?”

The stranger does not respond with much compassion.  In fact, he calls them “fools.” He proceeds to open the scriptures to them, to show that you can’t have resurrection without death.  In the midst of the decline of the white mainline Protestant church, another part of the body of Christ is rising in powerful ways.  According to an article published back in May 2014 on the Daily Digest of the PCUSA website   “American Christianity still has plenty of Millennials — they’re just not necessarily in white churches.”  Rev. Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic congregation in South Carolina reports,  “What I see among Millennials are African Americans and Asian Americans and Latinos who are vibrantly growing in faith and leading the future of what the church will become.”  According to data from the Public Religion Research Institute he’s absolutely right.  The majority of younger Christians in this country are people of color.  White Christians only make up 26% of Americans age 18-29.  Only 12% are white mainline Protestants.  On the other hand 28% of that age group are Christians who are people of color.   This is part of a huge shift underway in American Christianity. For Americans over 65 years old, about 70% of their generation are white Christians.  For my generation, it’s 54%.  For my children’s generation, it’s less than 25%.

GotW-Obama-Romney-Coalitions-and-Age-by-Religion-11-12-2012-Final1-640x388

Rev. Gray believes the future will belong to churches that are multicultural, not because it is politically correct, but “because that’s what God wants.” He cites Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”  He concludes, “The reason that we should have multiethnic churches is not that the demographics of America [are] changing — but because it is at the heart of the gospel.”

The rise of multicultural Christianity is connected to the expansion of Pentecostal churches.  The Pentecostal movement is often traced to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 in Los Angeles.  Today it is estimated that by 2025, over 40% of the global Christian community will be Pentecostal.  That’s a shift the likes of the Protestant reformation.

Back on the road to Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion invite the stranger into their home.  There the guest becomes the host, taking the bread, blessing it and breaking it, and their eyes are opened to see the risen Christ. This month we invite into the NEXT Blog, Joel and Rachel Triska from Life in Deep Ellum.  They are ordained ministers in the Assembly of God Church running a fascinating ministry in urban Dallas. We also hear from Rev. Shane Webb and Pastor Antonio Pichardo who are partnering in rural Texas on new worshipping communities.


Joe CliffordJoe Clifford serves as Pastor, Head of Staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas.  In 2006 he came to Dallas from the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area.  Joe is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and has his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary.