What does it look like to create a movement of churches marked by incarnational presence?
It would look like starting new, humble, city-centered churches focusing on loving their neighborhoods. In addition to starting them, it means supporting and creating engaging new ways to equip these churches for sustainability, as they often are trying to minister in areas of great poverty or great expense (or both).
It would look like working to plant city churches across a number of economic and ethnic contexts, while celebrating and partnering with the churches that have been working in these contexts for decades.
It would look like starting churches across regions that are contextually-engaged in their locale but also address the systemic issues in urban, rural, AND suburban contexts. The frank reality is that all of them are connected. Churches (and their pastors) must exegete the culture in a way that exposes the symbiotic relationship of all of these factors. For example, “white flight” had an adverse impact on Baltimore City but bolstered the economy of the surrounding counties. One is connected to the other.
It would look like starting suburban churches that celebrate the convenience of modern suburban/metropolitan living but are both city-positive in their tone and posture, and address the core idolatries of suburban living: accumulation, idolizing our kids, insulation, and false senses of safety and security.
It would look like starting suburban or rural churches that create long-lasting, humble partnerships inside the city center in a way that creates mutual edification in the body of Christ. Too many suburban churches act as heroes to city churches. In reality, both have much to offer the other.
It would look like churches working together to create solutions that engage the deepest hurts in a targeted geographic region, such as addiction or unemployment. How can churches work with a city’s anchor institutions to address these core hurts in practical ways? How can a church work with a neighborhood’s grassroots efforts to bring lasting peace? Here, we may need new metrics for city impact beyond baptisms, Sunday attendance, and a single service event one Sunday a year.
It would look like celebrating, sending, and sharing Christ-followers to plant, support, and launch any and all of these churches.
I have been grateful for organizations such as Stadia that have been willing to partner with and create all of the above. I have been grateful for churches within Stadia’s networks and beyond that have helped us launch and sustain ourselves in the city so that we can help plant fresh expressions of hope to Baltimore City.
The reality is this: being help and hope to hurting places requires more than one expression of the gospel partnering together for the glory of God and the good of a city or region. It’s exciting to see this taking shape in our region, and I look forward to seeing more folks (perhaps even someone like yourself) take the next step in impacting the Baltimore region.
When talking to even well-intentioned brothers and sisters from outside the city, I’ve found Baltimore to be a place people love to talk ABOUT but struggle to talk TO. On Baltimore: I love this city, and I think you will too. Loving it, however, isn’t easy. It will often move you to weeping for and with your city. It will move you past neat, tidy generalizations about solutions to the deepest hurts of a city. Mostly, it will move you to embrace the mess AROUND you, and IN you, so that you can display a greater hope in the midst of the messes.
P.S. Want to learn more about Baltimore’s historic challenges? Check out this session from our “Urbanology: Conversations on Urban Living” series.
Check out Scott’s post from last week, where he talked about the dynamic in Baltimore that has led to such great need.
 Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership (Michigan: Zondervan, 2012).
Scott Ancarrow, Lead Planter
The Foundry Church (Baltimore, MD)
Scott Ancarrow is a Maryland native (from Western MD). He grew up pretending to be Cal Ripken, and he puts Old Bay on almost everything. Scott has been married to his wife, Amber, since 2003. They have two daughters, Emery and Reese. He is a graduate of Kentucky Christian University and has served in various church leadership roles, including a church planting residency with Revolution Annapolis.
Are you a catalytic leader who is ready to start a great church in Baltimore MD? Know someone who is? Stadia is ready to help!