Strong Family Newsletter Sept/Oct. 2021

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God is moving! We were commissioned to start a disciple-making movement that results in a church planting movement. There is some fruit to celebrate from what God is doing. REMEMBER: We are here to plant MULTIPLE churches.PRAISE REPORT Two potential church plant groups are meeting weekly, each with at least eight regular attendees Disciple-making opportunities are growing Leaders are being cultivated, empowered, and activated PRAYER REQUESTS God to bring new life to the people of our metro area Gospel boldness and opportunities Wisdom in making important decisions that will honor and glorify Him and best serve our community and co-laborers in this time of transition, including finding a meeting place
Good Afternoon Brothers and Sisters,I am grateful and praise God for each of you. Your prayers and support have been a great encouragement throughout our time of transitioning to missionaries. God has been reminding us of His great care through you. Because of your prayers and support, we have been able to trust God as He carried us through considerable adversity and extreme challenges in the last couple of years. He is still growing our faith by showcasing His faithfulness in all kinds of areas and situations we had fear and anxiety. The faithfulness of God is growing us and helping us take new steps in the work He has for us to accomplish. He is bearing fruit and letting us enjoy watching the growth only He can bring while we work to sow, water, and harvest along the way.You might notice our letters are getting fewer and a bit more far between. That’s actually a good thing. God has been opening lots of doors to minister the gospel and make disciples. He is also opening the door to spread a passion for church planting. By the grace of God, we have been reminded of our calling often as doors open which has led to increasing amounts of spiritual conversations and targeted trainings and communications around these subjects in our circle of influence. I’m happy to report we have two unique potential church planting groups meeting weekly. One group meets for worship together and the other is in the pre-launch stage. We are not in a place to merge the two groups yet. We are praying through that process since we believe it will require great wisdom and a few other mature members and their families to complete the process. In the meantime, we are laboring in various ways to help each person take steps of faith as we invest our lives in them. Each group has a minimum of eight regular attendees (including me).WHY MULTIPLE CHURCHES
As many of you may recall, I believe God has called me to plant churches (not church). That has been on my heart far before I understood God was calling me into church planting. He gave me a vision of reaching lost people. In that same vision is the desire to see people properly discipled who have come to Christ at some point, but have been improperly discipled or not discipled at all. Think of the person who was saved at an event (Billy Graham had thousands upon thousands), but could not find a church home that would welcome them in their area. Also think of people who live in areas where conversion is the only goal. Discipleship is not a priority. Instead, the focus is on evangelism and numbers. Another area we care about is in places where someone may come in contact with the gospel in some form, but the only churches they have access to preach and teach false gospels like the prosperity gospel and its baby—the social gospel. The best way to accomplish this mission is through planting new solid, biblical churches. That is my belief. And it requires a commitment of love to reach the people in these areas (and to call out to the believers in these areas) with the gospel. Upon reaching and gathering born-again believers, the goal is to see lives invested in these believers regarding sound biblical discipleship that includes doctrinal knowledge, character formation, and skills development acquired while living on mission together.To accomplish this, we do not commit to a particular model. The culture and the people we are reaching out to will determine the model (house church, traditional church, cell church, village church, etc). We also do not commit to a particular look or sound of music. We help the people who live in the cities we are reaching employ their gifts to accomplish this feat. They will design their church for their community and hopefully write and choose appropriate doctrinally sound music that connects with their community members and aids worship. This is already happening in church planting internationally. We believe it is also necessary to reach the world here.
Currently we have one house church started and another church in the planning process. I am working through the theology of the church and church planting with eight men in the potential church in pre-launch stage. What I mean by pre-launch is they are not meeting for weekly worship yet. I am training the guys to study the word, prepare teaching, and learn how to preach and teach. So far, we have had five men (other than me) teach or preach in our group at least once. Some have done this multiple times at this point. They’re hungry to reach the world and their passion encourages me as well. They also desire to see those they reach discipled, not just converted. They are growing in their burden for specific people and we are listening to God as He shows us what to do next, including how to identify our target community and a strategy to reach them. Some are parts of other churches and are impacting their current church culture with what they learn and a passion for planting. God is moving. We praise God for all of this and we ask that you praise God with us and also pray for us as we invest our lives in these men, women, and children to reach the world for God’s glory. As we grow, the spiritual opposition naturally increases. I have included three ways you can pray for us in the summary “PRAYER REQUESTS” above.
You can also help by praying about a long-term, ongoing commitment to partner with us, not just as we plant the first church, but as we dedicate our lives to plant churches as long as the LORD employs us. It is truly a gift to have the partners we have and we praise God for you all. We know you already understand the need for long-term commitments to the work we are doing. You know there is no such thing as an “instachurch” or a “church in a box.” It takes time to lay a proper foundation and raise up a generation of mature believers, including elder qualified men who we can witness God carry through testing. If you have interest in partnering with us long-term, or desire to see your church partner with us, feel free to respond to this email or contact me by phone (501-838-9673). I would love to talk and pray with you about the opportunity to lock arms on mission.UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES A couple notes worth on upcoming opportunities:LOCAL OPPORTUNITY: I am about to start teaching a class on Bible Study Methods to men who are in addiction recovery and/or prison reentry (coming out of prison and preparing to transition into society on their own). I want to honor God with this opportunity while equipping these men to mine the Word on their own, and hopefully spark a new passion for Scripture that may not be there today.REGIONAL OPPORTUNITY: I have been invited to a missions conference as a speaker in the first quarter of next year. I will share more details once I have them for sure. I also want to honor God as I share the work we are doing and any information He has given me that may prove fruitful to these churches who desire to plant churches and reach the world for Christ. It is also a great opportunity for me to learn from two men I respect highly. One is over Hispanic church planting in North America and the other is focused on Arabic church planting in North America. I can also learn a great deal from the churches who are throwing the conference. They have years of personal experience investing in missions and are still looking to grow and learn. I admire and appreciate their humility and kindness as well as their dedication to seeing a passion for God spread to the ends of the earth.GLOBAL OPPORTUNITY: God is also opening doors for us to share the good news through writing in magazines and papers. I am currently working on a special featured article for Mission:World Magazine’s January/February 2022 issue. Mission:World Magazine is a digital publication produced bi-monthly and emailed directly to subscribers free of charge. Please pray for me about this. I want to honor God with the story I write, edify the saints through the gospel presentation in it, and mobilize our brothers and sisters to reach the broken people around them.CHURCH GROWTH: We have one group looking to grow in their missions giving from international investments to local and regional missions investments. I need to lead this process well. We are also preparing to bring more of our youth to church camp this summer. I’ve never done that process before and need to find additional chaperones and raise funds to offset some costs that are too much for many of our families. Finally, I am looking to take our groups on a missions trip to Mexico to visit and serve alongside the Rose family for a week or so this summer. I am new to this process as well and will need to help our people get what they need to travel internationally, plan, and fundraise for the trip. If you are able to help with any of these, I could definitely use the help you have available.Thanks for your prayers and partnership.In Christ,Mike Strong (on behalf of the Strongs)