CP vital for missions & future leaders, pastor says

by Karen L. Willoughby, posted Tuesday, April 02, 2019 (one month ago)

The Seattle-area Meadowbrook Church in Renton has baptized more than 50 people in the last 10 years, sometimes in Lake Washington, in a challenging area where Microsoft is headquartered and where others weathering life’s difficulties find temporary housing.
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REDMOND, Wash. (BP) -- Four years after Microsoft moved in 1986 to a scenic site on Lake Washington in Redmond, Wash., from nearby Bellevue, Scott Brewer relocated from a Kentucky pastorate to start Meadowbrook Church.

He did so specifically because he understood Microsoft would grow, adding more residents to the east Seattle suburb.

"We wanted to be where the people would be moving in," Brewer told Baptist Press.

That same strategic thinking has led to Meadowbrook Church expanding its ministry effectiveness over the last 30 years, and to increasing its giving to missions through the Cooperative Program to 10 percent of undesignated offerings. CP is the way Southern Baptist churches work together in state, national and international missions and ministries.

Meadowbrook has started six church plants in the Puget Sound region over the years because "new church plants are one of the most effective means of reaching non-believers for Jesus," Brewer said.

Scott Brewer started the Seattle-area Meadowbrook Church on Easter in 1990. This is the church in its worship center on Easter 2017.
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Part of his interest in allocating mission dollars through the Cooperative Program is because CP pays for part of the seminary education for those preparing for the pastorate and other vocational ministries.

"When we consider how we can use our mission dollars most effectively and efficiently, the fact we have two mission boards strategically carrying out the Great Commission, we want to partner with that," Brewer said. "And we want to partner with training the next generation of pastors and missionaries who will be leading in those efforts."

In addition to its mission dollars through the Cooperative Program, Meadowbrook seeks to be a good neighbor in Redmond and a "safe place" for those who attend. And it focuses on discipling its members; providing classes in ESL, English as a Second Language; and partnering with two transitional housing nonprofits.

As a good neighbor: Meadowbrook shares its 10,000-square-foot space in a renovated warehouse with community groups and gathering that otherwise would have to pay the area's exorbitant rental rates. This includes a community choir, weddings, recitals and more, all for the cost of utilities and cleanup.

"We wanted to be a bridge to the community," Brewer said. "People marvel we do it at cost."

Digging fenceposts as part of a community development project in Nicaragua is among the ways Meadowbrook members have worked to share the Gospel while on its many mission trips.
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While initially a safe place for people to ask questions about religion, Meadowbrook also has become a place for people of diverse ethnic backgrounds as well as for "people who come with brokenness," the pastor said.

Discipling, meanwhile, takes place in one of eight small groups scattered around the city of about 65,000 people. The groups provide accountability, Christian growth and ways members can reach out in the community and the world with the love of Jesus.

"We are trying to make Christ-followers who are world Christians, someone who comprehends how God is at work in the world and partners with Him in that," Brewer said. "In a very real sense, God has brought the world to us."

An ESL ministry was one of Meadowbrook's first ministries.

"Redmond has become incredibly diverse," Brewer said. "When we moved here it was 94 percent white, and today it's 41 percent foreign-born.

Scott Brewer
 
"Every year we'll have a different 12 to 15 students," the pastor continued. "In any given year you might have more Hispanics than Russian or more Russian than Asian.

"It's a way for us to help the outsider to find a way to navigate their new world," Brewer said. "They don't know the language, the culture. They don't know how to buy groceries."

Another Meadowbrook ministry is to people who live in the Avondale Park government housing complex. The church provides monthly dinners, movie nights or parties, "just trying to bless those in a transitional state," Brewer said.

As relationships are built, "then we find they have 'family of origin' issues, dysfunction that is being passed on to the next generations," the pastor said. "We want to help people transition into a whole new life, not just a new living situation. When you grow up with poor models and dysfunctional experiences, it continues until something intervenes and breaks that cycle."

The local YWCA has 20 units of transitional housing in its Family Village, where families can stay up to 18 months. Meadowbrook provides new items each time a unit is vacated. Other local ministries by Meadowbrook's small groups might involve serving dinner at a local youth homeless shelter, breakfast or lunch for teachers at area schools, and dinners for firefighters.

"All the things we do, we try to not just do a drop off but to be with them and engage them," Brewer said. "We want to build relationships and friendships and in the course of that friendship introduce them to Jesus."

In addition to the $31,250 Meadowbrook gathered in 2018 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the church has regular contact with missionaries in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, South America and the Middle East.

"We're making an increased effort to make disciples who have a heart to make disciples," Brewer said. "We see this as a global mandate as well as a local mandate. We have strategic partnerships in some of the most unreached parts of the world and right here in Puget Sound. We want to have a foot in both of those worlds."

Brewer leads the newly-reworked local Baptist association's pastor care team and is part of the Washington church planting assessment team. Worship pastor Jerry Chambers, on Meadowbrook's staff since 1993, is part of the state convention's team that trains worship leaders for new church plants.

Over his 30-year ministry at Meadowbrook, "I've learned the value of sowing and not just reaping," Brewer said. "In the early years I had such a focus on harvest, but I did not value all the work that precedes that -- sowing and cultivating -- and this is a hard-soil area. It takes a lot to break the soil, and then a lot of watering and caring to move toward a harvest."

Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.
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