An evangelical church in Indiana has launched campuses inside of prisons, a rehabilitation home, a youth shelter and even public schools to bring the Gospel to people who are not able or don’t necessarily like to physically attend church services.
For the past three years, the 800-member, non-denominational First Capital Christian Church in Harrison County, Indiana has launched and rapidly expanded its online campus through its “Church Anywhere” initiative.
The idea of Church Anywhere is to empower church members to bring the Gospel and much-needed fellowship to isolated community pockets in Southern Indiana that are overlooked by the typical Sunday church worship structure.
Since First Capital launched its online campus three years ago, the congregation has subsequently launched 15 micro campuses in locations that include prisons, foster care centers, rehabilitation facilities, elementary schools, and homeless shelters.
In addition, church members launched their own micro-campus inside their own home after noticing that many of their neighbors were not leaving their homes on Sunday morning.
According to First Capital engagement pastor Tyler Sansom, over 29 first-time decisions for Christ have been made at the church’s micro campuses so far in 2019. That total is compared to the 49 decisions for Christ that were made across just 12 micro-campuses last year. In 2019, 13 baptisms were also conducted at the micro campuses.
“We are passionate about empowering our people to go out and be the Church, which is why we call it ‘Church Anywhere,’” Sansom told The Christian Post. “It’s empowered our volunteers basically to bring the church to whatever they’re passionate about.”
While services might vary slightly at the different campuses, they all mostly consist of the two worship songs and a 15-minute sermon, followed by 30 minutes of small group discussion time.
While the services are entirely volunteer-run, they are led by what the church calls “volunteer campus pastors.”
“They’ll have a leader who began to the pastor and then they’ll bring along people with them to develop other leaders,” Sansom detailed.
“They go through training with us when they open their campus. And then they also go through a shadowing process where they shadow two or three of the other locations to see how they do it,” he continued. “So we don’t want to just throw someone into the fire without making sure they’re ready.”
The first places that First Capital volunteers brought a Church Anywhere campus to were local prisons.
Today, First Capital has campuses in four prisons: Floyd County, Harrison County, Branchville, and Madison.
At Branchville Correctional Facility, which houses about 1,500 inmates, First Capital has about 20 volunteers that travel an hour each week to put on the services there.
At Branchville, a former gang member has expressed his desire to start his own Church Anywhere service. So First Capital is preparing to launch a second service in Branchville run by the inmate. That service will be held once per month in addition to the weekly services led by the First Capital volunteers.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith