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

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.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • 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.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

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