The roads are covered in ice – I’m thinking I’m going to be a bit stuck in the hotel today. The local TV news is suggesting that people should stay home if possible – we’ll have to see. Yesterday was a fairly busy day. It started with an early breakfast with John Ryan who is the pastor of Summit Community Church an Acts29 church just outside of St Louis. Besides pastoring his own church John also coaches other church planters and so we chatted a bit about the type of person Acts29 is looking for when they assess prospective church planters. It was a very fruitful time and, as with most of the guys I’ve met with already, John was really excited to hear about the prospect of church planting in South Africa.
Then I had the chance to go down to Tower Grove and the offices of the Journey’s social action and mercy ministry arm – Mission St Louis. Josh Wilson, a really great guy, heads up the mission and he took us around a low-income area right next to Tower Grove and showed us some of the work the mission is involved in. From what I could see they’ve really entered the community and are actively working to be a blessing to and love that community – no strings attached. It was really an impressive setup and gave me plenty to think about in terms of mercy ministry back in South Africa.
After that I headed back to Covenant Seminary and after lunch got to meet up with Dr Phil Douglass who is the professor of practical theology with a special interest in church planting and church growth. Dr Douglass has over three decades of experience in assessing and researching church planting and so it was great to spend some time talking about the type of people he looks for when it comes to church planting. He also gave me free copy of his book in PDF format (P & R are about to publish it) in which he brings together years of research to talk about different personality types and the types of church planting they should be involved in. The little bit we got to talk about was so insightful and you could always sense his experience oozing through – so I can’t wait to get into his book.
Then last night I headed down to the Schlafly Bottleworks which is both a local brewery and pub. On Wednesday nights the Journey hosts public discussions at the Schlafly discussing cultural issues relevant to the broader St Louis community. This is all part of what they call Midrash (Hebrew – “commentary”) which is part of the church’s interaction with culture. Last night they had an open discussion on the issue of violence in America. Probably more than 50 people attended and not all of them were members of the Journey, many were just coming in for the discussion. It looks like a great way for the church to build relationships in the community as well as showing that they have a real interest in the issues that their city faces everyday – quality cultural engagement.
Finally I got back to my hotel and watched Arsenal play Milan in the champion’s league which a friend recorded for me. We should have beaten Milan!
Anyway, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the weather today. I’ll just have to play it by ear.