Before missional community became a buzz word, Family Church members Ross Cash and Proverb Newsome were living on mission to reach their community. We sat down to ask Ross about his motivations, practices and results. Here’s what we learned:
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a 42-year-old golf professional. I have been married for 8 years to my wife, Heather, and we have a 5-year-old son named Colby. I have been a believer since the age of 10 but mainly just attended church my whole life. I really started pursuing God when I met Heather and knew I needed Him in my life to help me. I finally dipped a toe in the water and started going to a Bible study class where I met Dave Fritz, who became a great mentor in my life. Years later I was encouraged by Payton Dowd to do the 4 Priorities book in an at-home study. I loved the study and the fellowship, especially the variety of age, race, educational background, financial status, etc. in the group, giving different perspectives on life. This experience motivated me to start a group in my own home. I personally wanted to encourage the people I come across in my job to come and seek God.
Q: Why did you and Proverb believe that you would be more effective sharing the gospel by inviting people into your home versus inviting them to church?
I just don’t think that the old “drive by” witnessing methods are as effective as they might have been in the past. There are so many things that can specifically snare men. Men deal with such a variety of stresses in life today. We need to be in a daily pursuit of God’s design or we are going to get off track. Maybe this isn’t the right thing to tell my pastor at my church, but I don’t really think that getting my friends or coworkers to come to my church is my primary aim. Ultimately I want to see people come to Christ and that is a huge motivator. An invitation to the house is like an extended hand, saying that we are in this together and I am investing in your earthly well-being as well as your spiritual well-being. Doing life as a friend allows me to “earn the right to be heard.” If people see us consistently reaching out to them—not just a one-and-done—they are more willing to be open and honest in their pursuit of God. The men in our group become our friends. They aren’t projects.
Q: What does a weekly gathering at your house look like?
We meet every Tuesday at 8:30pm. I picked that time because it’s when Colby (my son) goes to bed. Heather and I can do the bedtime routine and Colby sees the men coming or hears them at the door. Heather heads off to her “side” of the house to do her thing while we meet. We open by going around the room and talking about what’s going on in our lives. We pray together and typically we watch a video study or do a book study followed by more discussion. We close in prayer and some leave while others stay for a while to hang out. The “official” group usually ends by 10:00 or 10:30pm, but sometimes guys stay until midnight.
Q: You have mentioned MANY times that you and Proverb are the prime beneficiaries of this missional community. What do you mean by that statement?
I mean that I HOST the event at my house but I don’t really LEAD the event. I know that I am not exempt from all the things of this world that snare men. It is best for me to be pursuing God and our missional community provides this opportunity. It is best that my wife sees her husband pursue what God wants for us and our marriage. It is best for my son to see his daddy pursue what God wants for our family and for my relationship as a father to my son. I love the people that I cross paths with each day. I love my friends who come to the group and I want them to pursue God. I just can’t overlook the fact that I know the group helps me—being in God’s Word together helps me.
Q: This sounds like a substantial investment of time, resources and emotional energy. How do you and Proverb measure missional advancement and effectiveness?
Missional community requires listening to people when they start to attending. It’s paying attention to WHO and what are in their conversations each week. Guys come in different stages of their belief or doubt and, of course, the stuff life throws at us makes those things a bit of a sliding scale. By that, I mean that people can lean on God easier when things are going well. The best measurement is when someone literally comes to faith in Jesus or rededicates his life to Him. In my experience, as we reach out to others and study God’s Word, we can be a blessing and in turn be blessed doing it.
Q: If you met others who wanted to live intentionally on mission by starting a missional community, what advice would you give them?
I would encourage them to open their home, seek out relationships, and offer their help in practical ways to those who need it. When you feel the time is right, initiate conversation about what they believe and why they believe it. I try to equip people to have an answer for the hope that is within them. I would suggest starting the group with a person whom you respect who is unlike yourself. I am a white golf pro and Proverb (co-leader) is an African American Christian hip hop artist. This shows people that it is the common thread of Christ is what binds us together.