Why We Exist

The story of the modern American Church is a study in dichotomy.  On the one hand, we enjoy some of the most well-developed worship services, preaching, and programs the world has ever seen.  You might say that we have perfected the fine art of “Doing Church.”  On the other hand, American Christianity has been in steep decline for several years.  More churches are closing their doors than new ones can grow to replace them, and the number of church attenders isn’t keeping up with our population; which means we’re not even reaching our own children, much less our increasingly post-Christian society.  This is especially true in the largely non-religious Pacific Northwest, where Portland, OR was recently named the “least-Christian” major city in the nation (2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies).  As followers of Jesus in the Portland Metro area, this is alarming; and should cause us to reexamine traditional methods in light of what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to do about it.  

Meanwhile, in many other parts of the world, the number of Jesus-followers is growing exponentially.  These movements are not focused on professional clergy & church buildings; but are being led by ordinary people all over China, India, Africa, and other places...sometimes where public worship services and Bibles are repressed or illegal.  In these movements, there is little distinction between sacred and secular life.  Small groups of followers learn to to love God & each other in the midst of daily life, engage their world through acts of service, share their faith with those who take notice, mentor new believers using simple methods, and help them form new groups to continue the process with others.  This approach may seem strange and primitive, but it shouldn’t be; it’s the same method that was used by Jesus and the early Church!  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a worship service & hearing a good sermon – in fact these are blessings we are free to enjoy in America.  However, if we want to faithfully reach our kids & neighbors & communities with the Good News of Jesus, it's time to take a serious look at our methods.  We need to major on the fundamentals He gave each of us for following Him, functioning as His people, and reaching those around us. We need to focus less on inviting them to “come and see the church,” and more on training each other to “go and be the Church.”

In the midst of serving under-resourced people in our community, we have re-discovered some wonderful methods of sharing Christ in ways that people respond to.  Many people have come to faith in Christ, or come back to Christ, in the past several years...and we're happy for the opportunity to share some of these principles with you.  We seek to influence every follower of Jesus, regardless of background, to adopt the pattern of living that He and His earliest followers modeled:

  1. Love God & each other in the midst of daily life
  2. Spread love through acts of service
  3. Share faith in Jesus with those who take notice
  4. Disciple new believers in ways they can own and repeat with others

In scripture and history, great movements of God have always come as the result of His people being drawn into humble prayer and return to the basic fundamentals of following Him.  What would happen if dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people from all types of American churches adopted the type of simple model that is producing so much fruit across the world today?  

  1. Communities would be transformed by acts of generosity from followers of Jesus
  2. Ordinary believers would be sharing about Jesus with those who ask about the hope they have
  3. New believers would be drawn into His Kingdom and mentored by new friends
  4. New community groups would form with fresh people & ideas, who would renew the cycle in their own worlds

This ongoing discipleship cycle is the nature of how the Kingdom of God was designed to grow through His people: Like a MOVEMENT…each individual, group, and congregation doing its own part in partnership with others, who together form the unified Presence of Jesus in the world.  We believe that He wants to see a movement like this happen today in the Portland Metro area and beyond….and we’re partnering with others to do our part. 

Catalyst Ministries NW is a network of likeminded Jesus people from various backgrounds, bound together by serving others and learning to function together to fulfill His mission in our own communities.


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