GraceConnect E-News, No. 42, Week of April 7, 2014


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
 A group of fun-loving kids during an outreach event at Metro Grace.

Planting Churches in the City of Love

“It’s tough work. It’s hard soil. I don’t think the average person outside the city understands how difficult it really is here.”

Kurt Miller is the director of strategic partnerships for Metro Grace - a church planting agency to urban North America, with a primary focus on Philadelphia. (Dr. Jim Brown, founder and executive director).

Metro Grace and other ministries in urban areas face many challenges in developing churches among people who often live in poverty and who are surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and violence. “The Enemy has well-established strongholds here in the city,” explained Miller. “And we’re fighting a very secular, non-biblical worldview.”

Additionally, the ethnic diversity of Philadelphia is enormous, presenting obvious cultural and linguistic challenges, but amazing opportunities to impact the nations.

Metro Grace tackles all of these challenges head-on: with prayer, and by what Miller terms “deeds of righteousness” or, in other words, loving people by meeting their community needs.

 â€œIf you’re really going to impact a neighborhood, you need to be practicing righteous deeds or they don’t hear your message,” he explains. “And we as pastors and elders of the church have to equip the people in the church to be able to do the things that the community needs. We are very intentional about starting churches that are gospel-centered and community-based.

“This is a real challenge. We work hard at equipping new believers to assume responsibility for the needs of their neighbors and their respective neighborhood. This can be difficult, especially among the poor; but, you can’t separate righteous deeds from the gospel message. That’s a big part of the ministry for our churches. It is discipleship of the whole person…it’s not just teaching them the Bible.”

Metro Grace welcomes short-term mission teams, allowing people the opportunity to minister within their churches and communities. However, they are careful to maintain a ministry balance, being sensitive to the fact that too much “give” from privileged churches can create a dependency that hurts urban communities in the long run.

“We don’t want to do things that make people from outside the city feel good but ultimately hurt the people in the city,” Miller noted. “We’re really trying to help these people help themselves, and for that reason we probably don’t get the exposure that other groups might get, because we’re not out soliciting that much.”

In the long-term, Miller hopes to see church planting take off in Philadelphia, finding people who are passionate about investing their time into planting churches in urban areas. 

“My hope is that the number of people wanting to plant churches in Philadelphia gets almost out of hand - where we can’t plant churches fast enough! We hope to find many people who sense God pulling at their hearts to come serve on a church-planting team.”

To find out how you can pray for, support or join the Metro Grace team, visit

From Around the Web

Here are a few links from Grace Brethren churches that you might find of interest…

Leadership Development

A compelling interview with Melissa Spoelstra, author of a devotional called Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World. Melissa is the wife of a Grace Brethren pastor.

Integrated Ministries

Links of Interest

An honest and moving testimony from Steve Shirk in Ripon, CA a few months before he passed away from cancer. 

Here's what his father Glen (pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Ripon, Calif.) wrote: "...Before Stephen was born Lois and I prayed that God would use him for His glory. I am thankful that God answered that prayer in a big way--not the way we would have preferred, but it was wonderful to see the faith of my son in action as he shared with others."

This week's featured book:


by D. Edmond Hiebert

Regularly $19.99, now available for GraceConnect eNews subscribers ONLY at 50% off plus FREE shipping!

Simply enter the code "JamesHieb" in your shopping cart at (Price is good only until midnight, April 15, 2014.)

On sale now!

As in his other commentaries, Dr. Hiebert uses his knowledge of Greek to practical effect for pastors and Bible students. His expositional approach is well-suited for personal or public study. The author writes in a way that reflects James’ practicality. He provides a bibliography for further reading.

369 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-88469-253-9

Regularly $19.99, now available for GraceConnect eNews subscribers ONLY at 50% off!

Simply enter the code "JamesHieb" in your shopping cart at (Price is good only until midnight, April 15, 2014.)

Events in the FGBC

April 25-26, 2014 â€“ Women's Leadership Studies: Equipping Others (WGUSA)
May 19-21, 2014 – Northwest Focus Retreat, Camp Clear Lake, Wash. (FGBC)
June 27-July 3, 2014 – Encounter ATL (EWP)
July 17-21, 2014 â€“ Vision2020 DC (FGBC)
June 22-27 â€“ National Rondezvous Camp, Burr Oak State Park, Ohio (GBB)
July 22-27, 2014 â€“ Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)
July 29-August 11 â€“ National Timothy Adventure (GBB)
November 11-24, 2014 â€“ Cambodia GO Team (WGUSA)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC â€“ Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBB â€“ Grace Brethren Boys
WGUSA â€“ Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to
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