Gateway was started by Dan O’Deens who eventually developed a Christian non-profit called Breathe Partners. This ministry currently serves among the unreached and underdeveloped in urban areas of places such as Haiti. As Scott assumed the Lead Pastor role, he could visibly see the mark left by Dan’s missional heart on the church culture.
Even though the church stands on a rich missional history, Scott wondered what might be missing. In their entire 20 years, Gateway had only on a few rare occasions sent people out from their community as long-term Global Workers. The question beginning to blossom in Scott’s heart was, "How do we begin to be a Sending Church?"
What can we do to encourage and prepare people to go?
Scott and his team at Gateway have been very intentional about learning about people’s passions. And of course, the only way to do this is through relationship. The thought is, if you know a person well enough to know their passions, then you can begin to direct them to use that passion for God’s Glory.
Using this same philosophy, Scott believes that for Gateway to begin regularly sending people out on mission, they need to foster relationships. The next step is to connect their people with the right individuals and resources to best foster their missional passion.
One way they have done this is through Encompass' Missions Meet-ups.
Last spring, Gateway Church hosted a small one-day Global Missions conference led by Encompass World Partners staff. The goal was to present new and relevant mission topics for the church to digest. Ultimately, Scott wanted to use this conference to fire up some of his people and open their eyes to a whole new world.
Encompass Executive Director Dave Guiles presented a brief seminar on the missional developments in history, Crisis Director Barb Wooler talked about using crisis situations for God’s Glory, and Director of Strategic Initiatives Wayne Hannah spoke on ministry among Muslims. According to Scott, every presentation was beneficial for his people.
Especially for a woman named Jen Ramirez.
Last February, Jen went on a short-term missions trip to Haiti with Gateway Church. Before deciding to join the team, she wrestled with whether or not she should go. Even though Jen knew God was persistently calling her to Haiti, she kept saying no. Eventually, she could no longer ignore the Lord’s leading. The trip completely changed her life.
She returned from that trip with a passion for Global Missions and local community outreach. Scott instantly recognized this passion in her and wanted to do everything he could to nurture it. So, when the Encompass Missions Meet-up came around, Jen’s name was first on the invite list. Since then, Jen has become a key leader in global and neighborhood outreach.
Scott is beginning to see more people like Jen rise up.
Two families from Gateway are headed to two different locations around the world for the sake of the Nations. One family will be ministering in Northern Africa and the other will be serving in the Caribbean. Because Gateway will be sending out both these families, Scott believes this will revolutionize the church culture.
Scott hopes the community’s experience in sending their own out into the world will inspire the church to send more. The greater goal is to be in a consistent and regular cycle of learning people’s passions, connecting them to the right people and resources, preparing them to go, and sending them out. This, of course, requires intentionality and prayer.
These are just the beginning stages.
Becoming a church that sends its people out among the least reached is one of Scott’s dreams. He recognizes there's a lot of work to be done, but that's not discouraging to him in any way. Whether by connecting with people, hosting Missions Meet-ups, or sending people on short-term mission trips, Scott and his team are prepared to do what it takes.