Hundreds of cultures from around the world are represented in the city of Atlanta, making it an ideal multi-ethnic church planting environment. Seeing a growing passion among the FGBC to reach minorities, Encompass committed itself to help foster that missional heart and come alongside anyone who was willing to put it into action in Atlanta. Grace Church of Akron was ready to take up that challenge.
Rooted in the suburbs of Northeast Ohio, Grace Church had no experience in urban multi-ethnic church planting. They asked God for direction, and he brought together two families with backgrounds in intercultural ministry who were willing to relocate in order to lead the church plant in Atlanta. In partnership with Encompass and the Grace Brethren Investment Foundation, Grace Church sent out the Tellez and Yoo families last December.
Having grown up in Colombia, Carlos and Emily Tellez provide a wealth of knowledge to the group from several years of cross-cultural ministry experience. Pete and Anna Yoo previously served in a multi-ethnic church in China and bring further expertise from their time there. These core families have been joined by a handful of others who share their heart.
Encompass Director of Mobilization John Ward and his family have opened their home to church gatherings and prayer. Encompass Trainers Kent and Becky Good offer many years of intercultural ministry experience to the crew. Adding even more youth and diversity to the group, Jon and Ranae Guiles, Marcos and Melanie Lobo, and Evan Lab have committed to being a part of the work.
The team’s plan is simple: focus on people. They will invest in the community through a variety of platforms and come together each week in a relational life group. God willing, the life groups will consist of mostly multi-ethnic people without any church background, and the discussions will be gospel-centered. Out of these life groups, smaller life transformation groups can be formed for Bible study and discipleship.
The goal is to see life groups grow and multiply. When a life group reaches capacity and a leader emerges, the life group will send a few out to start a new one. With their motto of “Each One, Reach One”, they hope to see continual growth every six months. From time to time, all the life groups will come together and celebrate what God is doing through them, and the team would love to see three multi-ethnic churches develop out of these life groups in the next five years.
Already, God’s power is clearly at work. Largely due to the Ward’s faithful years of pouring into their community, the ATL Life Group has grown to 30 people. This first group is committed to being together until August, when they will send off a new group. The church-planting team praises God for his transforming work among the multi-ethnic peoples in their communities.
Encompass is proud to partner with the Grace Church of Akron and GBIF in this effort and excited to see the dream of becoming a regional base for multi-ethnic church planting becoming a reality. Please pray for the ATL life group as they seek to build bridges in their neighborhoods and invest in the lives of men and women from all nations.