LINC North Texas launches faith communities where families are transformed through spiritual, educational, and economic development.
LINC NT was founded in 1997 to be the church in the cities, the very place that most churches were leaving at the time. Ministry among underserved communities needs to begin with community development initiatives. Evangelistic effort cannot be separated from social action. LINC North Texas developed the SALI program in response to an opportunity to meet a number of needs at once. Public schools, desperate for help educating students, were seeking programs that supplemented their basic curriculum with character and leadership issues, which are notoriously difficult to teach in the midst of state- and federally-mandated curriculum. Working in public schools would provide LINC NT the opportunity to engage families in the community.
Parental involvement is the foundation of how SALI is strategic for LINC NT. By involving parents, SALI gives LINC NT the opportunity to build relationships with families. Students alone rarely plant a new faith community, but parents do. Healthy families are a core building block of healthy churches. Effective outreach to both generations presents sustainability to new churches, as the parents provide stability and the children provide a future. Healthy families are clearly key to the development of healthy children, and that is a valuable community development strategy that is widely acclaimed in both Christian and secular circles. The intersection of family ministry and the education sector serves the school and the family and it provides LINC NT missionaries with relationships with families.
With the support of great staff, great board of directors and sacrificial donors, LINC NT, known as a trailblazer since its inception, was inspired to journey this path that had not been traveled before. SALI was launched in the spring of 2010 in just one school. By the end of 2011, SALI had grown to 14 schools with 1,400 students in the program, including partnerships in Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD. Over the past year, one missionary has been able to form three Bible studies and several other parenting-focused small groups. Both of the primary missionaries have been welcomed into families and attended family gatherings like graduations and reunions. Rather than extracting out of the pre-existing communities, these initiatives invest back into the communities, seeking not to damage them but improve them.
LINC NT has also launched ESL classes in the community and believes that a variety of community services, including financial literacy classes, immigration assistance, a scholarship fund, business training for untrained entrepreneurs, and character development for business employees, can produce similar results and further transform communities. Many of these programs will be developed in partnership with other organizations and ministries. The common thread is genuine transformative care for the community that leads to relationships for faith communities. Instead of transferring evangelical Christians from existing traditional churches, these new churches will be developed out of un-churched community members. Churches planted from a core of people who have just come to faith in Christ will be deeply impactful and generate loyalty and enthusiasm that comes out of dramatic life change.
The initial missionary trains three or four leaders who will begin small groups in their homes. Once the groups are established, the new leaders begin to train their small group members. Three or four leaders from the group will begin their own small groups. These small groups now come together to form a mid-sized missional church – so named because a mission to the community forms the core purpose for the existence of the association. Mid-sized groups are limited in size to 50-60 people, but new groups may always be formed. This model allows for rapid but organized growth, leading to a balance between the viral growth of the Kingdom and the necessity of maintaining clear doctrine.
LINC North Texas is committed to accountability and transparency. The LINC NT team was recently accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an accreditation agency dedicated to helping Christian ministries earn the public’s trust through adherence to Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. After careful evaluation, LINC NT easily showed adherence to all seven standards. LINC NT's financial information is available to the public, on the Guidestar page (linked below) or by contacting John (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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