Monday, April 4, 2011

When the Last Laugh Is Not Yours

by Dr. Greg Rogers

Editor’s Note: Oakmont Baptist Church voted to purchase a neighboring apartment complex in order to be on mission in the community. Since then, they have been engaged in and continually discerning how best to use this property for the good of the community and Kingdom of God.

Since we purchased Oakmont Square Apartments in August 2007, I have heard countless people make the same statement and then ask the same question, almost in the same breath: “I know we didn’t buy those apartments to be in the ‘apartment business,' but I really do think God wanted us to have them for some purpose. So what’s the purpose for our owning them?"

If you had been a fly on the wall during our first Oakmont Square Apartment (OSA) Vision Team meeting on February 6, you might have reached the same conclusion that this team is reaching: perhaps God’s ultimate purpose for our owning them is already being seen in how we are using them now.

This Vision Team idea was birthed during our last coaching session on January 9 with CBFNC Church and Clergy Coach Eddie Hammett as a way of continuing the conversation on future next steps for our church to build more “go to” structures into our community. It is composed of 11 lay persons and three ministers, who either volunteered or were suggested by other people to serve on this team following our January 23 church-wide prayer meeting.

Our coaching sessions with Eddie led us to identify three target groups – at risk families, college students, and senior adults – for whom we might seek to address their educational, vocational, medical, and spiritual needs. The Vision Team dreamed about what is already happening and what could happen when we viewed the apartments as a “hub” of missions and ministry into our local community. Here are just a few of the possibilities the Vision Team considered:

  • medical clinics staffed by Oakmonters skilled in the healing of the body.
  • creating an Intentional College Community where a college intern (divinity school student) would work with college students, and develop them into leaders focused on spiritual growth and missional service to the community and world.
  • after-school tutoring for children, a ministry that is already occurring at the apartments under the capable leadership of a gifted team of Oakmont members.
  • providing affordable housing for at-risk families and/or senior adults.
  • a host of programs to grow a person spiritually as a follower of Jesus.

An interesting thought occurred to us all as we envisioned the possibilities: being in the “apartment business” may accomplish some or all of the above possibilities, placing us exactly where God wants us after all. If that’s the case just slightly, then God has a funny sense of humor and may have the last laugh on us before it’s all over.

Greg Rogers is the pastor of Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, NC. This article originally appeared in their church newsletter, “Connections.”

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