More than twenty-five community partnerships drive ministry in an impoverished multicultural medium-sized congregation. This story is about Tuxedo Park Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Ind. Below the story you will find a link to additional learnings from ABC church renewal activities, as well as a list of reflective questions for stories of church renewal. Please use these as you consider this story, and reflect on work in your own local congregation.
Tuxedo Park Baptist Church is an inner-city church in the heart of Indianapolis. Situated off U.S. 40, the church sits in an impoverished multicultural community mostly populated with families who originated in Appalachia. Currently Sunday worship finds over 100 people of many ages present. For many years most persons in the church commuted from the suburbs back into the city because they had family ties within the church. Today, there has been a shift in that demographic.
When Rev. Tom Jackson was called to Tuxedo Park several years ago, the church had focus and energy, but was eager to try new things with a new pastor. They enrolled in the CECL project at the Green Lake Conference Center and began to experience church in new ways. As a leadership team sought God’s movement in their church, they recognized barriers that blocked forward energy. One barrier is the word “change.” Pastor Tom says, “‘Change’ is the scariest word in the world, so we avoid it!” They speak about transformation rather than change.
The process of ‘transformation’ has brought about new creativity and confidence for the congregation. Building partnerships has been one way to creatively do ministry. Today, Tuxedo Park has over twenty-five partners; mostly other churches. Some partners are from suburban churches wishing to connect with the city. Most partners are not American Baptist churches. All partners help fund outreach ministries. For example, they have partnered with a Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. This partner church provides a dinner and a clothing ministry while the people of Tuxedo Park do evangelism once a week. Together, they see God transforming lives and bringing hope to the community.
Pastor Tom says, “God has surprised us with these partners who learn about our ministries and want to join what God is doing here.” Tuxedo Park Baptist Church continues to face many challenges, yet they face them as opportunities for transformation; they refuse to let “No” be an answer; and they celebrate God’s faithfulness with them in ministry.
Reflective Questions for Stories of Church Renewal
- How is this congregation similar to your congregation?
- How does this congregation differ from your congregation?
- What surprised you in this story?
- What was the turning point of the story?
- Where is God at work in this story?
- How do God’s desires for this congregation compare to God’s desires for your congregation?
- Where is God at work in your church’s story?
- What is God inviting you to explore as a congregation?