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A statistic, recently, sobered me; saddened me; but truthfully, did not surprise me.
It was from the renowned Barna Group, a research organization that specializes in conducting polls that survey the state of the evangelical church in America today.  In their most recent survey, they sought to determine the top 20 cities in America in 3 separated categories: the most ‘Churched’; the most ‘Unchurched’; and the most ‘De-churched’.
 
The De-churched group most piqued my interest.  It refers to those individuals who were once actively involved in a local church but who have not attended a church service for the last 6 months – anywhere!   The Barna Group then listed the top 20 cities in America with the highest percentage of ‘de-churched’ Christians.  Not surprisingly, the vast majority of cities were located either on the West Coast or in the Northeast (over 80%).  Of note, including the South, the Plains and the Midwest region – there was only one city that made the infamous ‘top 20’ list of having the highest de-churched population: Traverse City, Michigan.  No joke!  Right in the heart of NW Michigan where Patti and I live and minister.  Our beloved city was ranked 14th with 40% of our Christian population officially in the ‘de-churched’ camp.
 
Again, as saddened I was to hear this, I was not surprised.  Because, over recent decades, so many of our area evangelical churches have been characterized by ongoing relational division and spiritual dysfunction – with the subsequent ‘fall-out’ being significant and heartbreaking!  Certainly, there have been churches with seasons of relative health but, with rare exception, there has been a noticeable lack in 2 critical areas that are essential for church relational health and spiritual vibrancy:
 
1.Peace-making Skills: God’s people knowing how to address and resolve conflicts biblically – so that they grow through them (in love; in wisdom; in humility) rather than react to them or retreat from them.
 
  1. Disciple-Making Vision and Skills:  Pastors/church leaders understanding both they why and the how of growing intentional disciple-making church cultures – where Christians are maturing as disciples to make more and better disciples.
This is where we prayerfully seek to come-alongside’ – to coach and equip pastors/church leaders in growing church cultures that spiritually and relationally thrive.  Sometimes our entry point is personally coaching a pastor along the pathway of disciple-making intentionality.  Other times, we may be asked by a leader team to mediate in the midst of a difficult conflict – including ones that seriously threaten to divide the church family.  Such was the case with Sunrise Church and their elder/pastoral team:
 
Anchor Point Ministry helped change the way our Pastoral Team looked at leadership and ministry. When we got involved with Anchor Point, we were a church in crisis.  The Lord took us to the brink several times, only to pull us back and increase our dependence on Him and His Word. He used our trials to change each one of us – and then our church - binding us closer together.  Today reconciliation is one of the central pillars of who we are: reconciliation between each other; between our Lord and the lost; and as a ministry our community. We are so thankful for Anchor Point Ministry!
 
This particular ministry of peace-making and relational wisdom coaching with pastors and church leaders has been multiplying significantly!  We are so grateful for the opportunities to enter in at these crisis moments because of the amazing spiritual growth and relational healing we are seeing God bring about. 
 
Some present situations and prayer targets:
  • A young lead pastor and his wife in their first church who, in spite of great opposition, have learned how to respond wisely through it.  Pray for their marriage; for Gospel-generated life change in their church; for evangelism effectiveness in their community.
  • Pray for an elder team seeking to reconcile with a former pastor.  Significant meetings taking place over the next 3 weeks.  Pray specifically for: God’s protection during each session; for mutual confession of wrong and the seeking of appropriate forgiveness; for spiritual renewal in the church and a spiritual awakening in the broader community. 
  • Presently, we are coaching 5 pastors in how to grow an intentional disciple-making culture within their churches.  Pray that this process will take deep root in them and bear lasting fruit through them
  • We have been praying for mentoring opportunities among millennials (those 2 generations behind us).  God is answering!  In a big way!  Between us, God has brought several individuals and a couple of groups of hungry disciples in their 20s and 30s in just the past 6 months.  Pray for ‘a mutual ministry’ – for us to learn from them as we seek to teach them – that each of us would become better disciples, making disciples.
 
Thank you for standing behind us with your prayer.  God is wonderfully at work! 

Through each of our lives “may His name be made great among the nations.” (Malachi 1:11).
 

Lou and Patti Damiani
Our mailing address:
Anchor Point Ministry 
1079 Jayrogers Ct Traverse City, MI 49696
231-929-1749

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Anchor Point Ministry · 1079 Jayrogers Ct · Traverse City, MI 49696 · USA

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