Everybody needs Jesus! He gave us instructions for sharing His love. When you read about churches being started in the Bible and in history – it is in cities! You would see the “church planter” go to the heart of the city and get started.
We have met so many people passionate about living in Baltimore! This city of neighborhoods is a great place to live!
We must give people an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ!
Here’s a few thoughts:
There is so much to do here – in the way of sports, business, parks, museums, and the arts! Across our nation, major cities are seeing a significant influx of young professionals who are aspiring to live the “urbanite” lifestyle as they work toward influence and the life of their dreams.
Baltimore has long been a region of peace, power, and influence. As the colony of Maryland in 1634 it was known as being tolerant of both Catholic and Protestant believers.
Baltimore is such a beautiful city with such great potential! Called the “City of Firsts” it has long been a gateway city of importing and exporting (even some of my favorites coffee and sugar). The city rests where the Patapsco River empties into the Chesapeake Bay, which then flows to the Atlantic. Despite the 1706 influence of tobacco, the proximity to the sugar trade from the Caribbean gave Baltimore a distinct advantage over New York and Boston. It grew as a port city with one of the best railroad systems, influencing the central states.
It has been a “safe harbor”. Known as our nation’s capitol (where Congress met for the three months) and then the site of the ratification of our Constitution (1776-1777). After the British burned Washington DC, US forces successfully defended Baltimore against them during the War of 1812 from Fort McHenry. These events, in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.
Prior to the Civil War, Baltimore was a “city where they could settle” (Psalm 107) for the greatest number and the greatest concentration of free African Americans. That is prior to the Civil War! Irvington is largely known as the first neighborhood of African American professionals. During the Civil War the region had some of the nation’s most successful “underground” railroad.
Being the second city (in US history) to have a population of 100,000 it has its share of “big city problems”. The city has seen specific depression (1873), devastating fires (1904) and riots (1835, 1961, 1968), but I believe that none of them caused as lasting an effect as the long history of people vacating the city limits.
Now it can be known as a medical city or a “place of healing” with Johns Hopkins (teaching hospital) serving as the city’s largest employer. We found that the University of Maryland hospital, and an organization researching viral diseases are also significant employers.
The city has been in a 30 year effort to rebuild the downtown area. The Baltimore Convention Center was the start of this effort in 1979. In the early eighties restaurants opened up in the Inner Harbor. The early nineties saw the baseball and football teams move into new stadiums in nearby Washington Village.
Bridge the Gap
Rebecca and I have long felt called to build a soul winning church in a city on the water. We have dreamed of being in a city where we could interact with both the “under privileged” and the “over privileged” in a place where we could serve both the “under educated” and the “over educated”. We believe that we are called to and uniquely positioned to be able to help people come to faith in Christ, equip them, and then send them to serve their context – to become a “city within a city”.
What if we could serve God’s vision to build a church that served the city? What if the church had both spiritual depth and cultural relevance? What if it attracted people in because it trained believers to live a missional life out in the community? What if the church had passionate presence driven worship with the power of the Holy Spirit, connected with the mind of the guest by the power of the Scripture?
Here’s a few facts:
The cities – Why Baltimore?
- We love cities on the water.
- We fell in love with Baltimore during the early years of our marriage. We were living in Richmond VA and would spend our anniversary weekends in the city.
- John’s Hopkins, a famous teaching hospital, has great influence in the medical field.
- Under Armor, Black & Decker, and several other corporations bear corporate influence.
- It was the second US city to reach 100,000 and has a long history of urban problems.
- Only 38% of Maryland population identify themselves as “Christian”.
- Only 9% of US population associate with charismatic or non-denominational church.
- The city has a need for local churches seeking to serve the community.
- The city has a need for Spirit filled churches that are built by intention.
- The city has a need for local churches built by a multi racial leadership team.
- We see a need for a strong multi site local church that is planting new churches.
- June 29, 2009: Baltimore rated third most family-friendly city by Forbes Magazine
- The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first metropolitan cathedral in the United States.
- The 745-acre Druid Hill Park ranks among the oldest landscaped public parks in the United States (2nd to Central Park in New York).
- Fort McHenry: where the words to The Star Spangled Banner were penned.
- 220 years old, Lexington Market is the world’s largest continuously running market. Still occupies original site since 1782.
The region – Why the Mid-Atlantic region?
- It is a good fit for us culturally and we have established relationships with other local churches in the region.
- The Mid-Atlantic hosts the seat of US authority and is an American culture “melting pot”.
- Most of the US population, living in cities, can be found along the Eastern Seaboard.
- Along the I-95 corridor these cities anchor some of the most densely populated US cities.
- The Mid-Atlantic region has been and continues to be a gateway for much of the US.
- The DC – Baltimore Metro Area is the 4th largest metro area in the US with 8.3 million.
- 34.7% of people over 25 have at least a Bachelor’s Degree (among highest % in US).
- 28.8% of DC – Baltimore residents are African American (among highest % in US).
- It is among the most racially diverse region of the US, and yet very few truly racially blended churches exist (using the 80/20 rule where the majority race cannot be more than 80% of the church).
- Baltimore is the 20th largest US city with 2.7 million. DC is the 8th largest with 5.3 million.
- These cities host among the “poorest” poor and the “wealthiest” wealthy, in the US.
- Only 54.6% of residents are from the area (among lowest % in US). These cities host tens of thousands of young professionals who are transplants to the area, for the sake of their resume. They will in turn leave to effect culture abroad.
Here’s what I believe God is saying from His Word:
“the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:3b-5
He will provide the wisdom!
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
He has opened the door!
“I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Revelation 3:8
He will make the way!
2 “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:2-3
In Acts 2 Peter quotes a Messianic Psalm that has great personal meaning:
In Acts 2 Peter quotes: “I saw the Lord always before me.” But in Psalm 16 our translation says, “I have set the Lord always before me.” The entire Psalm (below) is meaningful, but this phrase instructs me (us) “how” we must do the “what” of “what” we must do this year…as we go to the “pleasant” places mentioned below.