There was a small town in a small country. Nothing good ever came from it. It was overlooked and often ignored. It stood in the shadows of other places, better places. One day that changed. God moved into the neighborhood, quite literally. Nazareth would never be the same and would no longer be overlooked.
It seems that the God of the Bible has a penchant for finding the small and unwanted to make his own. Abraham and Sarah were old and barren, yet He promised to make them into a great nation. A few generations later, they were still a small family, but God was not finished yet.
Even at their greatest, the people of God, were relatively overlooked, and were always overshadowed by Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon. They were mostly known as the people whose country was the crossroads that everyone else wanted to conquer.
Dan and Amy Rose met in an unlikely place. Dan is from a broken home from the suburbs of Detroit. Amy is from Evansville, IN. Dan was a student at Central Michigan University, Amy was a student at Indiana University. From two very different places God called them to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to be on mission with CRU. That summer began a relationship that has led them on quite an adventure.
After graduating from their respective universities, Dan and Amy joined the staff of CRU. During their initial support raising, God began a transformation that would find its culmination over a decade later. This transformation was a love for the local church. After a decade on staff with CRU, Dan joined the pastoral team of Grace Chapel, EPC. Shortly thereafter, he was ordained and became a member of the EPC College Committee.
It was during his time on this committee that another transformation took place. God awakened his heart to the necessity of church planting in college towns. Dan and Amy had finally found the sweet spot. Could it be that God had called them to plant a local church in a college town?
No. God is calling them to launch a movement in a college town and to multiply that movement in other college towns. God had planted a seed of vision and passion for movement building in Dan and Amy’s lives when they were in college. CRU watered that seed by providing training and experience. Bob Smart, the Senior Pastor at Christ Church – PCA, watered the seed by instilling a deep love for the local church. Doug Walker, the Senior Pastor at Grace Chapel – EPC, watered that seed by instilling a vision for church planting. God, brought growth by opening Dan and Amy’s hearts to an overlooked town fifteen minutes from their home.
There is another town that sits at a crossroads. It is overlooked and small. Even at its zenith, it was in the shadow of other places. It was simply a stop on a railroad. Ypsilanti, Michigan sits in the shadows of Ann Arbor and Detroit. Eastern Michigan University is overlooked as people look past it to the University of Michigan.
While Ann Arbor is a hotbed of church planting activity. Ypsilanti is ignored.
Like he has in the past, the God of the universe is on the move in an ignored and over-looked city. We believe that God is leading us to launch a movement of Christ followers who will take new land.
The community of Ypsilanti has gaps:
- An evangelistic presence that is intentionally pursuing emerging generations.
- A theologically Reformed church that is culturally embedded in the Ypsilanti community.
- A local church that is in close proximity intentionally pursuing the EMU campus.
A Jesus movement based in and around the campus community will step into those gaps. It will need to partner with the pubs and coffee shops and other community based organizations. It will need to be a part of the broader rebirth that is happening in the Ypsilanti Community.
With the launch of The Antioch Movement we will not simply be planting a church but launching a movement. A Jesus movement is defined as, “…the collective activity of committed, multiplying disciples as they band together and trust God for an impact greater than their own individual ministries.” A movement like this is marked by momentum, multiplication, management, and messiness.
The Antioch Movement is not content with becoming another institution of programs. From the outset we desire to be a movement that is replicating quickly, intentionally, and courageously. We are convinced that launching Jesus movements, not simply churches, is the best means by which we can reach our city, region, and world.
Ypsilanti is a unique city that is in desperate need of a Jesus movement. There is a major university of more than 20,000 students. Of it’s 30,000 residents (not including the university) over half are people between the ages of 18 and 34! As you can imagine, Ypsilanti is highly educated and very diverse. It is a place that is full of singles and many single parent households. According to our research, there is an above average inclination towards a Reformed and Presbyterian church. There is a desire for an intellectually stimulating worship gathering and an ancient-future worship style. Nearly 40% of Ypsilanti’s people have no faith involvement and 30% have decreased their faith involvement over the last ten years.
The story of Ypsilanti needs a turning point. We believe that a Jesus movement will be that turning point.
A New Story
We stand at a crossroads. Three stories intersecting one another. It is time for a new story to be written in Ypsilanti, MI. The two great turning points in God’s story are two great exodus’. The first, was God freeing his forgotten people from the oppression of Pharaoh. The second, was God freeing his forgotten people from the oppression of sin. The Antioch Movement is a movement of God’s people that will bring about a new story of restoration by retaking forgotten ground for His glory.
God is writing a new story and has uniquely fitted Dan and Amy for this place and this time. Grace Chapel, the planting church, has successfully planted one church in another forgotten and overlooked town. For the EPC, it is time to begin launching movements and taking new ground.
The time is now.
The place is Ypsilanti.
The people are Dan and Amy Rose.
The movement is The Antioch Movement.
Will you be a part of writing this new story of restoration?