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Where Portland Church Planters Fear to Tread

Where Portland Church Planters Fear to Tread

MaryLou and Rusty Bonham, founders of Springwater, commit to the forgotten Lents neighborhood.

"If we can't find a way for God's peace and justice to show up among us goofballs," Rusty says, "how can we presume to be able to be God's agents of peace and justice in Lents?"

Here, at the end of the line #14 bus, urban faithfulness is far more mundane than the savvy, conference-friendly ideas I usually see from church planters.

Perhaps this glorious mundane is the true challenge and opportunity that church planters like the Bonhams offer others. Perhaps the future of the church has less to do with ancient-future technique and postmodern turgidity, and has far more to do with families joining the homeless to give away sandboxes to neighbor kids.

Brandon Rhodes is the husband of Candice and a doctoral student at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, where he is studying the impacts of automobility on North American churches. Brandon is applying this research as a Grassroots Storyteller and Field Guide with the Parish Collective.


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Displaying 4–8 of 15 comments

Jeffrey Allen

November 15, 2011  12:56am

Thank you for this article. It is good to remember that the church not only has a function toward those outside the fold, but it is charged with ministering to those who are being perfected in Christ's image - that is to say, those of us who profess faith in Christ. Springwater, and similar groups who are faithfully attending to the King's business, have helped me to draw near to Christ, to live within his grace, and to encourage me to participate in kingdom activity. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience God's grace through your faithfulness.

Diane Fowler

November 14, 2011  8:24pm

I was so delighted to read this article about Rusty & Marylou, our friends from 1979 in Goshen, Indiana, where we attended the same church and helped facilitate their wedding. I'm not at all surprised by their ministry to "the least of these," after knowing them as sincere followers of Christ way back then.


November 11, 2011  8:01pm

Etymology and logic requires that if you are not "Messianic" you are also not Christian. How odd this article should appear in Messianity Today.


November 11, 2011  7:40pm

"To guard against that messianism"? Wow now I know that I am a Messianist, one who looks forward to Christ coming in His kingdom. I always thought sharing that good news (gospel) with others was my duty along with helping in their practical needs. Now I learn that is to be "guarded against". Incidentally I know the Lent district well and can assure all the readers that the police are quite welcome and that they are not "afraid" to go there. In fact it is a rather reasonable place to live, there are with regards to security far more dangerous places be in Portland. There are also within reasonable walking distance about a dozen Churches each having their own form of community outreach and styles of worship.


November 11, 2011  11:57am

This is a typical Portland leftist peace commune. Their website contains all the leftist buzzwords like, “empires subjugate nations”, the “greedy oppress the weak”, the “domination systems, justice-seeking relationships, justice, and sustainability to our neighborhood”, In our “buying habits and through common practices such as gardening and dumpster-diving, we unplug from the domination systems”. It is sooo Portland. They require new members of their commune to go through a one year “catechumen season that we call the Novitiate year”. People commonly use the scriptures on planting and watering as an excuse when there are few converts. That is not what Paul meant. When you read it in context, Paul, the "planter" had multitudes of new converts in his 18 month stay in Corinth. He was a successful evangelist and Apollos was a gifted teacher (waterer).


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