The Missing Link

Many pastors yearn to discover the secret that will spark a revival. But the answer may be staring us in the face.
The spring semester had just arrived at Countryside Christian Training Center in Clearwater, Florida, where I had been an instructor to ministry students for the last three years. My family had recently moved to a new home in a Tampa, Florida, suburb. The center was only 30 miles away, but unfortunately it meant traveling through congested freeways during morning rush hour.

As I approached the city, the traffic was backed up for miles. I remembered and turned onto an old route. It had been years since I had traveled this way. As I drove, I noticed a major transformation had taken place. Where once stood vibrant businesses and quaint homes, a dilapidated neighborhood and a sense of darkness prevailed.

When I awoke the next day, I had a strange desire to take the same route. As I drove through what most people would now call the ghetto, the Lord began to speak to my heart: "See the fields! Look with My eyes!" He started to show me the pain of the people living there.

I started attending city meetings on helping the urban poor. One of the first things I discovered was that people had been making countless attempts to feed and clothe the poor for many years. These efforts garnered only moderate success, and the dark spiritual climate basically stayed the same.

As I investigated deeper, it seemed the general outlook from suburban churches in the United States had been to send missions teams to the nations--while virtually ignoring the mission field in our country's urban cities. I came to the conclusion that what lies within our inner cities is a melting pot of nationalities and an untapped region of lost souls. Then I experienced this overwhelming revelation: Suburban churches reaching out to their inner cities is one of the "missing links" to what would usher in a great spiritual awakening in our land.

My wife, Kathy, and children, David and Tiffany, soon became involved. And our youth department started weekly prayer-evangelism walks. But what could our little church do?

The answer came from an unexpected source--our young people. With some investigation, they found and we leased an old, wooden house that soon became our little outpost. Ironically, the house once served as a drug haven for the neighborhood and was also surrounded by others just like it. What once was a place for evil to prevail, now was a stronghold for the Lord.

My son, David, and four young people moved into the outpost and began to love the surrounding people. Our church did special projects, such as block parties and meal runs to shut-ins.

A real breakthrough occurred when a local newspaper wrote an article on how five teens were changing the spiritual climate of the drug-infested area. When the article was published, it awoke a sleeping giant. Church after church came with manpower, financial help and provision. Overnight it became a community effort.

As the area's residents observed our unified service, they realized we were not serving our own agendas. The residents began to embrace us into their hearts, minds and lives. The spiritual climate changed from the bleak despair of evil to the healing light of Christ.

My questions to fellow suburban church leaders are: Could your church be the missing link for unlocking a citywide transformation? What are some small ways your congregation can positively affect the spiritual climate within the urban areas of your city? Can you trust God to supply all the resources needed to reach them?

Let me encourage you--when your people become the hands and feet of Christ, this becomes the missing link that brings new fire, excitement and dedication to everything else you do as a church.

Bill Craver is the founder and director of Tampa Bay Dream Center. For more information on his ministry, log on to the dream center's Web site at

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Your Source of Unlimited Kingdom Energy and Power

    Jesus said that we can do greater works than He did and that He will do whatever we ask in His Name.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.

    Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

    Jentezen Franklin urges ministry leaders to be strong and courageous in dealing with these issues ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders