Published July 15, 2010
ALPHARETTA (BP) — The statistics are staggering: about 57 percent of all people in North America reside in multi-housing – apartments, expensive high-rises, mobile home parks, and condominiums. An estimated 95 percent of them are lost without Christ.
“Multi-housing is an arena most Southern Baptists don’t know how to get their arms around,” said Richard Harris, interim North American Mission Board president, in welcoming 15 of the most experienced leaders in multi-housing church planting and evangelism to NAMB for a two-day summit.
“You folks are all about a great need and task. Seventy-five percent of the 343 million people in North America – about 258 million – are lost, and most of them live in urban multi-housing areas. Harris said.
“If we could impact multi-housing, we could change the landscape of lostness in North America.”
Among those attending the May 24-25 multi-housing summit were Larry Grays, pastor of Midtown Bridge Church; Jim Haskell, NAMB director of urban church planting; Kerry Jackson, NAMB national missionary; and Mike Reinsel, vice president, Apartment Life. All are based in Atlanta.
One attendee at the summit, David Bunch, first tackled multi-housing evangelism and church planting over 20 years ago when he worked at the former Home Mission Board (NAMB’s predecessor). Bunch and another summit attendee, Barbara Oden, helped write a pioneering book on the subject, “Starting Congregations in Multi-housing.”
“It’s critical we do a better job of reaching people in multi-housing,” said Bunch, now retired and living in Atlanta. “This style of housing is not open to traditional methods of approaching people.
“You just can’t go in and start knocking on doors. You can’t get mailing lists for multi-housing residents like you can for single-family dwellings. The residents are often skeptical of outsiders and may not even be open to them. After all, they live there for a reason,” Bunch said.
Others attending – convened by NAMB’s church planting group – were Steve Allen, NAMB church planting missionary in New York/New Jersey; Bob Burton, NAMB national missionary, based in Indianapolis; Dan Cookson, NAMB church planting missionary with the San Diego Baptist Association; Vijay Kumar, NAMB urban church planting specialist, New York City; Kim Lee, director of Community Northwest, an apartment ministry, Seattle, Wash.; Cesar Parra, pastor/evangelist of multi-housing churches in Ontario and Canadian National Baptist Convention missionary, Toronto; Louis Spears, director of multi-housing for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention; and James Williams, pastor of Hope Fellowship, Memphis, Tenn.
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