Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sodom: Our Biblical Model

In the book of Genesis, we read about a city known as Sodom. Of course, when we think of Sodom, we think about the great evils committed within her borders. In Jude 1:7, we read that Sodom was marked by pervasive fornication, perversion, and immorality in the sight of the Lord. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, we read that Sodom was arrogant and unconcerned for the poor and needy. For these reasons, and others, God judged Sodom for her wickedness and destroyed the city with fire and brimstone (Gen 19).

Without question, God was sovereign over the destruction of Sodom and it all fit well within His plan. But could there have been a different fate for the city?

In Genesis 18:22ff, Abraham asks that very question about Sodom. “Lord,” he says, “If there were 50 righteous people in the city, would you destroy it then?”

God answers that if there were 50 righteous people in the city, He would not destroy it. Abraham goes further, asking how God would act if there were 45 righteous people in the city. Again, God answers that He would spare the city on behalf of 45 righteous ones. Abraham continues to ask, and God continues to affirm that the presence of righteous people is grounds to delay judgment. What if there were 40 righteous people? 30 righteous people? 20? 10?

Again and again, God makes it clear that the sanctifying presence of His people in a sinful land is enough to preserve that land.

Sodom Remixed

From the beginning, God’s chosen people were intended to be a light to the world, a blessed people through whom the whole world would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). Jesus affirmed this to His followers, reminding them of their identity as salt and light in a dark and dying world (Matthew 5:13-16). God’s people are to be dispersed throughout the world, preserving the earth and shining as a beacon of hope in the Name of the King.

Imagine if the children of Israel had taken this calling seriously from the beginning. What if the city of Sodom had righteous families scattered throughout the municipality? What if every block had an ambassador for the king? What would happen? Well, we know from Genesis 18 that God would have preserved the city on behalf of those who represented Him.

Our goal is to build the New Sodom. You see, I could easily move into Springfield with 7-8 other committed disciples, and we might do some good in the city. But in the end, it would still just be a bunch of “outsiders” who came in and crashed the neighborhood. Because this project will not be the end-all of ministry work, it must signify a beginning. What if there was one committed group of disciples in the city? What if there were 2? How about 3? 4?

Springfield is undoubtedly a city of great need. Greater still are the plans God has for His people there. I could stand up and say this every day from now until the Day of the Lord, but unless the world sees it demonstrated in a tangible way, the message will make little sense. Our doctrine only makes sense in light of the lives we lead.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Candid Post on Ministry Affiliation

So, explain to me why this community is not a non-profit, ministry organization:

We are not a ministry organization. We do not intend to be. We are simply a house for people to live in, in community. While the members of the house will engage in service throughout the neighborhood, they are not ministry employees. House members may come from all walks of life and may be employed outside the home in any way they see fit.

I admit that much good is accomplished by ministry organizations. In fact, I am employed by a ministry organization and will continue to work in this capacity as long as possible. But it is necessary to keep a strong division between any organizations with which I work and this house project.

I will openly give warning of the danger inherent in working through the vehicle of a non-profit organization. To engage in ministry in the city is to engage in politics. The quest for funding leads to fierce competition between ministry organizations. Visions are sometimes compromised or clouded as the organization does what it needs to do to survive. Insecure leadership and diverse partnerships cause a “survival of the fittest” mentality in which some people feel the need to tear others down in order to survive. There are ministerial turf wars, and rarely do we play together as well as we should. This is an unpleasant truth, and it often makes me unpopular to comment so candidly. I will negotiate this minefield as I need to, for I do not think it necessary to abandon this track altogether.

The community, however, is no place for such battles. We will seek to avoid such tensions in any way possible. We will seek to partner with many of our neighbors, and we intend to seek their best interest at all times. But, whether it be the patronage of a foundation or some sort of outside ownership, no outside influence should set the agenda for our community.

This freedom is important to us. Accountability structures will be put in place, but we must avoid the dangers of corporate sponsorship.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Could this be the place?

Here is the home we are currently looking at:
125 W Mulberry.

This picture was taken in front of the home facing south. You can see an alley to the right of the house; this connects to W. Pleasant. Behind the house and to the right is Inside Out Ministries. If you go to the left, you will find St. John Missionary Baptist Church. Standing on the front porch (facing the photographer) you can see downtown.

This house has plenty of rooms, an attic, and a small basement. It is a converted double, so it has 2 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, and 2 interior staircases. There is also a fenced-in backyard.

2,694 square feet of exciting potential...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Word on Residents

Mulberry House has the capacity to house 8-10 residents. We have a few openings at this time.

Residents will be committed to a lifestyle of simplicity, service, outreach, and communal living. Interested persons should become acquainted with our House Constitution to gain a general understanding of the rhythms of our community. If you'd like to know more, contact us by email or phone using the contact information located on the right-hand side of this page.

Residents live "dormitory" style with 2-3 people per room.

How Do I Help?


1)Household Toiletries such as... Hand Soap, toilet paper, paper towels, bath supplies, toothpaste, shaving supplies, soap, deodorant etc [to be utilized by community, etc. we keep some on hand in our community closet and it is used in our house...thankfully]

2)2-3 twin-sized beds [could be bunk beds]

3)Groceries [if you have food you don't want, you can help us cut costs by sharing it. Or, you could always give a gift card for a local grocery store]

4)Board games

5)Gently used toys [to be distributed among neighborhood kids in future venues]

6)Gently used [fill in the blank] that can be used by someone else

Donations of money: If you would like to contribute financially to this project, you are welcome to do so. However, please note that we are not a non-profit organization and that any money that comes in will go directly into our house account for general living expenses (unless otherwise stipulated). Your donation of money is basically a gift being shared among friends (no receipts or write-offs or whatever at this time).

Did we mention that we love you today? Because we do...

There are several other ways to get involved:

1) Pray!!!!!!!!

No brainer, right?

2) Back this project through donations of time, money, and resources.

We have a clothing/supply closet that always needs replenishing. If you have clothing, toiletries, toys, hygiene products, or other items that you'd like to share with others, we will gladly accept them.

We also accept donations of items to be used within the house itself. Household items, cleaning supplies, and toiletries are always helpful.

Contact us by phone or email if you'd like to donate.

3) Use your imagination.

We know that many of you love this project, but you are unable to join us in the house. This does not mean you can't be involved! We want you to be a part of this project by praying, planning, and dreaming.

Would you like to be a part of a community event? Would you like to perform a service project at our house? Would you like to get plugged in to some community ministries in our neighborhood? Just come hang out in the house? Contact us and we'd be glad to talk with you.

4) Spread the Word.

We love meeting new folks. Let people in the area know what we are up to.




1) What is the name of the community?

We shall call ourselves... Mulberry House. Riveting name, eh? :)

2) How are you being financed?
We aren't, aside from the bank. I was able to get a mortgage loan with my father as a co-signer. After 6 months, the co-signer will be removed and I will be the sole purchaser. The monthly payments will be around $475.

The idea is to keep the cost for residents as low as possible so residents will be free to spend maximum time in the community. Therefore, contributions and donations will be used to supplement the monthly costs.

3) Once the home is officially acquired, who will own it?

I operate on the principle that God is the only true owner of anything. So, God owns it.

On paper though, the home will be in my name.

4) Shouldn't a church or ministry org being buying this house?
Well, I thought so at first, but now I am not so sure. Many churches I spoke to were not convinced that this idea was a good one, so they were very hesitant to jump on board. Others loved the idea, but could not afford to take on a home purchase at this time.

From my perspective, I needed housing anyway. With the price of rent nowadays, it made more sense to buy. So, I figured, why not use the home I am buying to initiate this project?

Somebody always has to go first...

5) Who are you affiliated with?
Since no church or organization is taking ownership, we are essentially an entity of our own.
We plan to partner with many ministries throughout the city, as many as humanly possible. But I see no reason to become a non-profit organization of our own, at least right away. After all, we are just a bunch of folks living together and being good neighbors. Call it "roommates and beyond".

6) When are we kicking this thing off?
Well, I have already paid for room and board at Cedarville University for my final semester, and I can't get the money back. So, between now and December, I will live on campus.

During the Fall 2008 semester, the groundwork for the community will be laid, furniture and appliances will be gathered, and work on the home will be done to ensure that it is ready for occupancy by January of 2009.

7) Are you crazy?

A little.

8) Aren't you moving kind of fast?
Not really. Several of us have been working toward this for years. Now that things are beginning to materialize, more people are being clued in.

9) How do I learn more, get updates, or give feedback?
Feedback is hugely welcome. Email Jack at