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Urban Missionaries to Start Detroit Churches

7 years ago written by

Free Methodists are launching a series of church plants in the city of Detroit, and they want your help this summer.

“Detroit is a significant city,” said Mark Cryderman, the pastor of the Harbor church plant that launched three years ago in nearby Taylor, Michigan. “We have an opportunity to change the heart of the city.”

If you read popular books about church planting, you may find authors advising church planters to pick prosperous suburban communities with new housing and high-income residents. Organizers of the Detroit plants, however, are targeting high-density/low-income neighborhoods. They are learning from the Harbor’s efforts in Taylor and similar ministries in Seattle.

“This is developing churches that are extremely cross-cultural,” Cryderman said.

He added that people in these neighborhoods often feel shame, but it will be a joy to replace that shame with hope. Residents may not look like they are in poverty because they are not homeless, but they may be struggling to pay their rent or buy groceries.

“It’s our charter as Free Methodists to align ourselves with the people who have been forgotten, lost and left behind,” Cryderman said.

Dinner Church

The Detroit church plants will use the “dinner church” approach.

“We’re aiming at people who would not go to church for Sunday morning for any reason. That’s not their upbringing, their culture,” Cryderman said. “We’re aiming at people who would walk to church because they don’t have transportation.”

He pointed to Proverbs 22:9: “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

He said dinner church is “not just serving a meal to people who are hungry but serving them the bread of life at the same time.”

Arts and Rec

Each dinner church will include arts and recreation for children.

“The kids’ arts and rec program will go from 3 to 5, and then at 5:15, we’ll start serving dinner for them and their families,” he said. “There will be a free meal, and over the meal, we’ll do church. It’s a different way of doing church.”

But Cryderman noted the approach is similar to how the early church met during the first 200 years of Christianity.

“There will be proclamation and testimony,” he said. “It’s a really effective method of reaching people in urban settings.”

Organizers have a goal of at least one church plant continuing in the Motor City after this summer. After training permanent leadership, they hope to launch additional churches next year that will continue.

He and his wife, Mary, who oversees the Harbor arts and recreation program, are looking for permanent housing for their family within the city of Detroit by the end of spring.

The dinner churches will take place in rented community centers, but Cryderman said organizers hope to “develop a ministry center where we can disciple and train new Christians and new leaders and from which we can deploy bivocational site pastors.”

Mission trips run Sunday evening through Thursday afternoon with optional Friday and Saturday activities. Available dates are June 19–23, June 26–30, July 10–14, July 17–21, July 24–28 and July 31–Aug. 4

The cost is $140 per person, and that amount includes meals. Go to for more information about the mission opportunities in Detroit. To participate or ask questions, email or call 313-434-4256.

Article Categories:
[News] · L + L April 2016 · Magazine · US & World

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