Several months ago Dwell launched a new college ministry in Cincinnati. Team leader Bryan Jones shares with us about the fruit God is providing from this effort and how you can be a part of making it a success.
What is the "Cincinnati Plant"?
Dwell is sending a team of leaders and workers from Columbus to start a college ministry in Cincinnati, based around the campuses of UC, Xavier, and Cincinnati State. The team will also join an existing adult home church and high school home church, with the goal of supporting and growing those ministries.
What’s the background of this effort?: In the 80s, Dwell (then Xenos) planted a church in Cincinnati. The church grew but then ran into some difficulties. Today, the church still exists, but only comprises a handful of families. There is no paid staff. The church continues to hold the same values as Dwell, but has lacked leadership gifting and discipleship training for many years.
In 2019, the Cincinnati church reached out to the eldership of Dwell and asked if there was anything we could do to help. Our elders were already considering how Dwell could get more involved in domestic church planting. They asked me and my wife if we'd be interested in heading up a team with the purpose of aiding the Cincinnati church. My wife and I have long been interested in domestic church planting and have connections to Cincinnati. Oddly enough, I actually went to high school only a mile away from Xenos Cincinnati's church building.
What has Dwell done so far?
A few workers have been going down every week to help with the high school ministry. We are having a blast getting to know the students and their friends. We have started doing teachings and identifying workers to be discipled. We also brought four students to Epic earlier this summer and had a student receive Christ.
We have also been building relationships with adult members of the Cincinnati church, and have begun to strategize ways to start reaching Cincinnati's large college population.
What is the strategy, and why?
Many of the people going are experienced and skilled student ministry workers. In order to develop a multi-generational church, there is a strong need to grow and develop students, who are leaving the church and faith in God increasingly. We hope to build our high school ministry to reach a larger portion of the city. Additionally, we are going to build a college presence, meeting people and sharing our faith so that we can start home bible studies.
We also want to teach discipleship and leadership principles to the existing adults, developing their skills and helping them with their numerous warm contacts in the city.
How have you seen God working?
It's been crazy to see how God has been developing our team and giving us increasing confirmation and desire to be involved in what He's already doing in Cincinnati!
There was a salvation in the high school group this summer! In addition, many of the high school students have been bringing their friends to meetings. We're regularly seeing non-believing guests at high school meetings.
We have also found numerous people in Dwell with warm contacts in the Cincinnati area, and we have been able to get in touch with many of them already. For example, one Dwell member, while on vacation out West, ran into a group of girls wanting to start in-house bible studies and who just so happen to live on UC's campus! In another case, a Dwell member was talking with an old high school friend who said that she's looking for a friendly place in Cincinnati where she can investigate Christianity! And, even more recently, a member of our own team became connected to an entire cohort of grad students (about 30) from UC who are eager to hang out! There are many other stories like these, which give us further confidence that God is behind this plant.
How can people support this work?
Pray! We especially want prayer for even more warm contacts. And if you have friends or family in Cincinnati, please let us know, especially if you get the sense they could be spiritually interested. Our hope is to have some events or meetings where we can have people from Columbus bring their friends and family to meet some of the people in the church.
We could also use help from people with experience or skills in the trades--particularly electricians and plumbers. We are going to be renovating a rundown house on the church property and there's a fair amount of work to be done. We are looking for people to volunteer and help us rehab.
Finally, one huge way you could help is to join our prayer list, so that you can stay updated on the needs in Cincinnati and target your prayers on specific issues and opportunities that arise. If you'd like to be added, contact Mitchell DiPangrazio at firstname.lastname@example.org.