Groundworks Ministries began in early January 2001 at the Cool Springs Starbucks in Franklin, Tennessee. Attendance for our first meeting consisted of
just one person, yours truly, one Bible, and the Holy Spirit. Also in attendance was a yellow highlighter and a ballpoint pen. It was discipleship with humble beginnings. I doubt anyone hustling to get their coffee noticed anything monumental was happening over at the corner table that day.
In mid-2005, I was invited by pastor Greg Laurie to join the staff of his church, Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. My function at the church was to lead worship and to help develop music teams for Harvest’s forthcoming multi-site campuses.
As I searched for young musicians at the church, I noticed about 2,000 young people attended their Sunday evening youth event. However, there were less than 100 attending their college event. So, I decided to hold a series of meetings at my home with people who were around 18 to 25 years old. The purpose was to ask them one question: Why don’t you attend the college group? Here are a few of their answers. "I don’t like the name of the group. I don’t like the day they meet. I don’t like the time they meet. I don’t like the teaching. I don’t like the music. I don’t like the room. I don’t like the people who go there." They were all "consumer" driven answers.
As we continued to meet, I noticed several consistencies. Not one person could name the Ten Commandments, nor had anyone fully read the New Testament, much less the entire Bible. I had in my living room a group of what I call "high-functioning Biblical illiterates". They were high functioning because they understood church culture and could operate within it.
However, they did not know the Bible, so they were in a state of suspended spiritual adolescence with no hope of transitioning from being a "consumer of ministry" to becoming a "contributor to ministry". I did not blame the church for their consumerism. But somewhere in church history we have lost sight of the family’s role in spiritual development and discipleship so that the responsibility solely lies on a church staff. And there simply are not enough church staff members to adequately disciple so many people! I knew we had to get back to the basics if there was ever to be a turnaround.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” – Psalm 78:5-8
In the early 2000s, an entrepreneur decided to turn the old Riverside, CA train station into a large coffeehouse. They named the place The Coffee Depot. The Depot’s old baggage room was converted to a performance space that would seat about 150.
I met with the shop’s owner and eventually negotiated the free use of The Baggage Room, with the promise that I could bring in at least 50 paying customers every week. The Lord was faithful, and within a year, we hit 75 attendees and kept growing to well over 100 regular attendees. A special event could bring in over 150 people. The age range was mostly 18 to 35. By word of mouth, people began to hear that God was doing something new among their generation, in their town.
When we ran out of space at The Coffee Depot, a friend said, “We need to get a bigger room!” I had already been considering that dilemma for weeks. But I knew if we got a bigger room, there is no doubt we would become a church. Churches don’t typically like it when one of their staff takes their young people and starts another church down the street! I would never do that. I love my pastor and my church.
Consider this: There are around 50,000 coffeehouses in America. At a chapter-a-day, it takes 3.25 years to read the entire Bible, cover-to-cover. I figured that if I could teach the Bible to 10 people in every coffeehouse in America, I could teach half a million people the entire Bible in a little over 3 years...with almost zero overhead costs!
In contrast, if I were to start a church and it became a mega church of 20,000 members in one location, what is that compared to half a million spread across the nation?
We didn’t need a bigger room. We needed another room…and then ANOTHER! So, that is exactly what we got. All told, over 2,000 people were getting my daily devotional, reading God’s Word chapter-by-chapter, and meeting in small groups of accountability at least once a week. 2000 members is technically the size of a "mega-church", yet these people were going deeper in God's Word within 3 years than most churches will take them in a lifetime.
Eventually, the Lord led me to form Groundworks Ministries, in order to handle the rapid growth of the ministry. Today, with over 6000 Bible Study participants worldwide (and growing) we are FULL STEAM AHEAD!! You are invited to join us TODAY!
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