MCLE adds direction to Indiana church’s motivation
By the Rev. David Love
Until participating in American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Missional Church Learning Experience (MCLE), members of First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Ind., had been motivated to make a difference in the community but lacked direction.
A core group of individuals served occasional meals at the Salvation Army, led quarterly worship services at a nursing home, offered presents and food to needy families at Christmas, and collected money to help people pay bills. But, over the years, participation declined. MCLE offered the tools necessary to direct our motivation.
Before MCLE, we looked at community needs, prayed, and then decided how to proceed. Through the four-step MCLE process, we discovered our own need: to listen to others likewise driven to assist the community and to invite them to work with us.
The most eye-opening step for our MCLE team was to conduct a community survey. We discovered that community voices were aware of three needs: homelessness, addiction and unsupervised minors. While these needs were different from what we expected, by faith we were committed to follow a new process. After a time of discernment, we began to explore addiction and recovery in our community.
When it came time to find community partners, we were overwhelmed with support and encouragement. We discovered that a new recovery-focused halfway house—Grace House—had just begun in our community. After sitting down for breakfast with Grace House’s leadership, we explored replacing the old knob-and-tube electrical wiring in the Grace House residence.
The local Drug Free Coalition doubled its usual donation, sending $250. Ace Hardware promised $250 in materials because chemical addiction had been affecting business—farm chemicals were being stolen to manufacture crystal meth. An electrician provided a discount on services.
With the help of community partners, our local church was able to rewire half of the old building, bringing the living quarters up to code. No more extension cords running across the floor. Less risk of fire. More comfortable and peaceful living conditions. We were able to empower grace and to offer men recovering from addiction a better chance at the life God intended for them.
Our first MCLE team has led to other MCLE teams that listened to community needs and partnered with others to share God’s love under the banner of Christ. One team partnered with several businesses to provide welcome boxes to women and children at a domestic violence shelter. Only one year after starting MCLE, more than 20 church attendees are engaged in the MCLE process and exploring how they can make a real difference in our community.
The Rev. David Love is pastor of First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Ind.