Transforming Lives in the Heart of Minneapolis

Leaders tour downtown Minneapolis to cast vision for church planting.

Bike Tour“I’ve never said it. I’ve never told anybody. It’s such a new thing in my head, but I believe in Jesus and I want to follow Him.”

That admission came from a young professional living in downtown Minneapolis. He had grown up believing Christianity and Jesus were on the same par as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. When he got married, however, his wife had a strong faith and so he attended church in an effort to support her.

But through his interactions with Corner Church and the Rev. Scott Woller, as well as others in this community in the north loop of downtown Minneapolis, this young architect made the most significant change in his life.

He’s not alone.

Downtown Minneapolis, with its emphasis on building new residential units, is filled with thousands of people who have few options when it comes to worshipping communities. In the north loop, where Corner Church is located, there are roughly 10,000 people who live in the area and one church. In a very real way, this neighborhood—as well as several others downtown—is a mission field unto itself.

Thousands of people who live in this area have never heard about Jesus or seen the transforming life changes that result from experiencing the love of Christ.

In early September, Transform Minnesota organized a bike tour of the north loop with local pastors, church planters and ministry leaders. The event was aimed at informing ministry leaders about the unique challenges of planting a church in downtown Minneapolis, as well as giving church planters ideas about planting opportunities in their own communities.

Woller told the 15 church and ministry leaders on the two-hour tour that downtown residents generally fit into two categories: young, educated and professional and those who are empty nesters.

The bike tour was another way Transform Minnesota helps evangelicals connect with resources that will ultimately bring more people to Christ and also as a way to connect people and churches in ways that are mutually beneficial to the gospel.

The Rev. Cor Chmieleski of Hope Community Church believes the bike tour was a way for people to become better acquainted with an urban setting and how that relates to church planting.

“One of the big takeaways will be the high number of residential housing units available and populated in downtown,” he said. “Even though I work in this area and drive through this area and find entertainment in this area, I think that was the biggest surprise—just how many people make this their home.”

Population estimates in downtown neighborhoods.
Population estimates in downtown neighborhoods.

The Rev. Ben Griffin, lead pastor of theAlley church in Cottage Grove believes the need is too great for churches to stand by and do nothing.

“We are really falling behind on the number of people—the need is monstrous spiritually,” he said. “We really need new churches. We need to work together to do it.”

The ultimate aim of the bike tour was to inform key church and ministry leaders about a high concentration of people who rarely experience the gospel.
“This bike tour was key in our efforts at Transform Minnesota to connect and equip church leaders to find the most innovative and effective ways to proclaim the gospel,” said Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota. “This is the heart of what we do—equipping people and institutions to make the message of Christ more prevalent and more compelling. I can’t wait to see the initiatives that result from this bike tour six months, one year, five years from now.”

Churches working together across state

The bike tour is not the only initiative Transform Minnesota is undertaking across the state. In Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Faribault, Rochester and other areas across Minnesota, Transform Minnesota is providing relationships, resources and representation in an effort to make Jesus known to those desperate to experience His love.



October 24, 2014

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