This month, I started a part-time position as the missions minister at Stones River Church (SRC) in Murfreesboro, TN!
SRC is a small church of about fifty adult members, and the leadership has graciously stretched our budget to the limit to make this support possible. At present, my responsibilities are limited to 10 hrs./wk., but I’m hoping to expand this role through fundraising (jump to details below).
Maybe you’d like to help? In this post I explain what’s happening and how you can get involved. Here’s the headline: God is up to something amazing in Murfreesboro!
The New Gig
I finished my PhD work in February and hoped to begin teaching full-time this school year. As the door closed on that plan, another opened. I now find myself called to leadership in a church that is leaning into a missional way of life. I’m truly delighted to help lead my spiritual community into deeper participation in God’s mission.
So what is a missions minister? I admit to suggesting this title.
“Outreach minister” is the conventional language for such roles, I suppose. But I’m not sure “reaching out” quite captures the essence of joining in God’s mission in our local context. The Spirit is at work before and beyond us, and our intention is to witness to the kingdom’s inbreaking wherever it manifests. We’re not “in here” trying to reach people “out there” (doesn’t that have the ring of attractional church models?) but to join God out and about in the neighborhood!
Whatever missions minister means, it surely involves serving the church as we share in God’s work in the lives of others.
At SRC, my role is focused on organization, equipping, and leadership in relation to congregational participation in God’s mission. We are on the way toward a missional life together as disciples of Jesus, and I get to help guide the journey. It is a breathtaking, joyful process.
In recent months, God has led us into unimagined relationships and opportunities. At a pace that has surprised us and stretched our capacities, we’ve begun serving both our local public school, Mitchell-Neilson Elementary, and our neighbors who have recently transitioned out of incarceration.
Late last year, SRC entered a season of prayer and fasting with the hope of discerning how to participate in God’s mission in our city. We began walking around the church’s neighborhood together, asking God to open our eyes to the Holy Spirit’s work, and spending time in prayerful conversation afterward.
Soon, new relationships began to form. We found ourselves in Mitchell-Neilson Elementary, welcomed to pray and speak with the principal about the school’s needs. So we brought our prayer walk into the school’s hallways and classrooms and quickly were given opportunities to serve. SRC volunteers have provided breakfast for the teachers and staff, read to students on Read Across America Day, presented on Career Day, helped facilitate Field Day, helped stock prizes for student accomplishments, and delivered essentials to struggling parents.
Mitchell-Neilson is only a few blocks from the church building, and it happens to be a Title 1 school with the highest incidence of low-income and at-risk students in the Murfreesboro City system. A surprising number of the families live in temporary housing (such as motels) and lack basic resources. Last month, the principal and many of the faculty and staff attended SRC on Sunday morning to share their struggles and hopes. It was an astonishing time of dialogue and worship.
We continue to be surprised by the opportunities to serve families in our immediate context that have arisen through this new relationship.
At the same time, God brought a visitor named Julie Hadlock to SRC. For years, Julie has led a ministry called Next Step, which primarily serves men and women transitioning from prison back into society.
Many of the people who live on the street in Middle Tennessee are former convicts, and many of them end up back in prison. This cycle has a great deal to do with the lack of resources available to people released from prison. From needs as simple as obtaining a driver’s license and finding a place to sleep to challenges as complex as learning key life skills and joining a healthy community, the difficulties of transitioning into “normal” life can be overwhelming.
When Julie showed up looking for a church home, we were in disbelief. We had prayed about learning to serve the homeless and marginalized in our city in deeper ways than volunteering at soup kitchens or handing out hygiene kits. But we never imagined that God would put an expert on our doorstep! Since then, Julie has placed Next Step under the oversight of SRC. We have hosted over 60 men from local transitional housing (“halfway houses”) at a yard party on the church grounds, and we’re outfitting a storage building to house essentials such as clothing and small appliances for neighbors newly released from prison. We anticipate many new friendships will develop from this partnership!
There is so much good work to do, and I’m praying that God will provide financially so that I can devote my attention to this ministry.
If you are able, please consider supporting me.
If you want to hear more, I’m happy to talk! Let’s schedule a conversation.
My goal is to raise $40,000 for August 2022–July 2023.
At present, SRC is providing $12,000 of that total, and I have received pledges of another $5000.
The remaining need is $23,000.
Tax-exempt donations can be made by giving online or sending a check.
- Type in the amount you would like to give.
- Select “Support Greg McKinzie” on the “Use this donation for” dropdown box:
- If you want to cover the PayPal fees (2.89% + $0.49), tick the box for “Add $#.## to help cover the fees.”
- If you want to set up a recurring donation, tick the box for “Make this a monthly donation.” Note: In order to set up a recurring donation, you must log into a PayPal account. One-time donations do not require an account.
Make check payable to:
Stones River Church of Christ
Stones River Church
1607 Hamilton Dr.
Murfreesboro, TN 37129