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East Baltimore Block Party

I could not be more proud of the people of Captivate Church than I am today!

If you want to see the photos in an album, simply click: View all  

We hosted a 'Back to School Block Party' in East Baltimore today.  For those of you who don't know our story, we were given this property in East Baltimore last year.  This property is actually my former home church.  I accepted Christ and was baptized in this church.  God has called me back to Baltimore to reach this entire city.  One of the ways we're going to do that is by creating new models for how suburban and urban churches interact.  Instead of having a 'mission' in the city, we want to be one church in two very distinct areas.  Captivate Church is outside the beltway and most of the people in our community are educated and financially stable.  Our East Baltimore location serves a population segment  with very high unemployment and very little education.  To captivate the entire city we're going to build a prototype of a singular church in diverse areas that can function as one church.

Our 'model' hasn't been done as far as we know.  I was told to my face by someone who approves church planting that they wouldn't have supported our concept because "You can't get suburban white people to care about inner city black people."  This person has obviously not met the people of Captivate Church!

Here is a random stream of thought from the day.  I'm so humbled and thankful for what God is doing here in Baltimore.  It isn't flashy, it's just seeing the gospel of Christ saturate a city one life at a time.  In word and deed we saturated a community with Christ today.

-  Today we were able to supply many kids with backpacks filled with school supplies.  Everything was donated by the people of Captivate.  The same people who served at this event today.

-  We had a prayer tent set up.  It was cool to glance over and seeing our people talking to and praying with people.  Praying in public doesn't draw the crowds like games or food so whenever I saw one I silently prayed for them and the Captivate church member doing the ministering.  About 10 years ago I saw a prayer tent as part of an outreach strategy in New York.  I thought it was the absolute stupidest idea ever.  I thought that until I actually prayed with people.  I realized in that moment that some people don't have a clue what it feels like to hear their name spoken before a holy God.  That act alone, praying out loud by name for someone can be one of the biggest bridge builders there can be.  Not a lot of people are willing to come over to a canopy with "prayer tent" written on it... but when they do, it's usually one of the most powerful moments of that person's life.

-  Over 500 meals were eaten at our event today.  Because the event lasted 3 hours on a city block it's hard to estimate the crowd over that time but the food is a decent indicator.

-  We hired a DJ who is a Christian and loves what we're doing.  He's been amazing to work with and always knows how to keep a crowd into it.  As a church the community is expecting to dismiss you.  We've built a great reputation in the neighborhood and little things like a DJ help in that regard.

-  This is the community where a little 9 year old girl asked me last year "what's a Pastor?"  

-  This is also a community where a program called "Safe Streets" exists in an effort to reduce gang violence.  We've had many shootings and several murders in this community within the last few months. Click here to see a video of a shooting response from a few years back.  It's good in giving you a tone of what they do.

-  Safe Streets came out to our event today.  We believe in developing great partnerships.  Unfortunately in the city environment most churches get taken because they don't choose partners carefully.  I've come to appreciate Safe Streets and I'm glad they're in our area.  I've got love for them.  They show love to us as well.

-  The McEldery Park Community is practically begging us to start Sunday services.  Today I received no less than 15 requests to start the church.  I've been waiting for the right time.  I think we're close.  It's good when people start to nudge you to open.

-  I talked to a young man who had a good friend shot 3 times in the face around Memorial Day.  The shooter unloaded the rest of the gun.  The murdered young man was 18 years old and the one arrested for the crime is 18 as well.  Two lives gone over what amounts to nothing.  This incident happened right behind our church building.  We must start and revitalize churches in Baltimore.  There is a hope in Christ that people don't know because we're not there.  As a side note I wonder how many of our famous Christian leaders minister in areas where violence like this is commonplace.  I'm concerned we have our priorities out of whack in pop-Christendom.

-  One young woman from Captivate Church worked a 16-hour shift at Johns Hopkins Hospital and then drove over to work another 4 hours at our block party!  I was in awe to see her serving children and sharing Christ in her scrubs and a Captivate T-shirt!

-  Several of our Captivate families stopped me to tell me that they have never before felt so alive than to be in a church as active as Captivate.  I firmly believe the way to grow a great church is to put people on mission following Jesus and being the ambassadors He's called us to be.  2 Corinthians 5:17-21

-  Another man in our church shared with me that God is working him over about priorities in his life.  We had this conversation on a street in the middle of East Baltimore.  If you knew just how different his life is from where we were standing at that moment, you'd never again doubt that God can move hearts to care for those who are very different than us.

-  In some of the pictures above you'll see we had a rap group perform.  I was a little nervous (I rapped in college a little bit and I enjoy the music) because Christian rap suffers from quality issues but these guys tore it up.  If your ministry doesn't require a rap group from time to time, come hang with me for a while :)

-  Several of the people who served today are being baptized tomorrow!  God has been moving in lives at Captivate in a big way.  I'm so thankful for what HE is doing.

-  My family has been big in supporting the work I've been doing.  My mom and two of my sisters attend Captivate while today my other sister (who attends a church plant near her house) came with her husband to help as well.  From my grandfather to uncles to several cousins, God has given me a huge blessing by seeing my family drawn closer to Christ over these last two years.  In some ways that was happening before I came home and in others it's been noticeably stronger upon my arrival here.  In both ways I thank God that I get to have a front-row seat to their spiritual growth.  He's an amazing God.

-  Our staff team and a few others who organized this event were absolutely incredible!  I did NOTHING for this event today.  I cast vision and started to work on other things.  They did everything from dealing with the city to shut down the block, to calling the Fire Department to get them to bring their truck, to organizing, purchasing, picking up supplies (using the church truck which means they had to unload, then load, then unload and reload again tonight before they unload into the church tomorrow and reload again...did you get that?)  God has brought to me a group of loyal and strong men and women who want to see God sweep across the city of Baltimore through Captivate.  They are truly 'Heart and Soul' type of people.  I love them dearly.


posted by Tally Wilgis @ Saturday, September 11, 2010


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