Thursday, March 16, 2006


A couple of months ago I attended a preachers’ luncheon to hear about a pilot ministry the YMCA is launching in our area in partnership with local churches. (The YMCA’s mission statement reads: “A worldwide charitable fellowship united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of helping persons grow in spirit, mind and body”). And by the way, to my knowledge, Houston is one of the only cities in the nation in which the Y employs a full-time chaplain to work with local churches in launching partner ministries.

At any rate, in 2000 the Y launched a ministry called “Restore” in Middle Tennessee that has been phenomenally fruitful. “Restore” is “a Christ-centered program designed to bring healing and wholeness in spirit, mind and body to individuals who are struggling with life-controlling issues. The program includes 12-Step and Boundary groups which provide education, coaching, support, confidentiality and accountability through the power of a group based process.”

The luncheon I attended (in addition to providing a free meal, to which preachers are notorious for flocking) was for the purpose of enlisting local church leaders in partnering with the YMCA in launching the first expansion of “Restore” outside of Tennessee, in Houston, and through the Langham Creek YMCA, no less!

Here’s how it works. A host church (initially Copperfield Church) serves as the location for weekly meetings of Restore. The YMCA trains volunteer facilitators to lead small groups at these once-a-week meetings. Participants from the community sign up to go through the Restore program. Registration is on a sliding scale so that no one is turned down due to finances. Local churches serve in two primary ways: by providing the volunteer facilitators, and by helping to spread the word about the program.

Friends, I left this meeting so excited I could hardly stand it. I find it so compelling to think of Christians being out in the community, facilitating groups (and participating in groups) designed, in the words of “Restore,” “to help people through a Christ-centered approach who need healing in their lives, hearts and spirits with issues including depression, loneliness, eating disorders, loss, addictions, grief, and simply feeling overwhelmed.” This is what I would term a “Jesus-in-the-marketplace” ministry: basic, fundamental, coming alongside people in the name of Christ.

Facilitator training is Friday-Saturday, March 31-April 1, from 8-5 p.m. at Copperfield Church, with lunch provided. Please let me know if you would like to pursue this ministry opportunity and I will give you more details.

“Working out at the Y” has taken on a whole new meaning. – Matt Soper (3/19/06).


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