A generation ago, the American dream was a home in the suburbs, white picket fence included, and a community built on the same values, hopes, and dreams. But in today’s America, the house in the suburbs and the white picket fence are out of reach for some and out of fashion for others.
Many people are choosing to live in multi-housing units such as apartments, condos, and mobile homes, bypassing home ownership for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle and financial considerations. According to the National Multihousing Council, one-third of Americans live in multihousing communities.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s church planting team reports the number of Texans living in multihousing communities is even higher than the national average, with half of Texans living in multihousing units.
But more staggering is the fact that only 5 percent of these people attend church.
To help churches reach into these multihousing mission fields in their own communities, the SBTC is offering The Multihousing Missions and Ministry Conference from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the SBTC offices in Grapevine. There is no cost to attend the conference, but registration is required.
Barbara Oden, founder of Texas Multihousing Consulting, will be a primary speaker for the conference. She has had many years of experience with multihousing communities.
“Since I was an apartment manager for eight years myself, I have a unique look into those communities as well as 23 years of assisting churches in preparing, beginning and sustaining this kind of ministry,” Oden said.
Working with Oden will be John Sanchez, a native of Colombia. Sanchez has been working with apartment ministries since 1990.
“Under the leadership of Barbara Oden, we began to establish programs in apartment complexes, serving residents with their needs and providing them with activities, Bible studies, kid’s clubs, ESL classes and other educational programs to encourage the community to build healthy values in the society in which we live,” Sanchez said.
During the conference, Oden and Sanchez will discuss understanding multihousing communities and cultures; crossing cultural and social barriers; starting on-site ministries and Bible studies; reaching the lost through ministry-based evangelism; working with apartment management; and training your church for multihousing ministry.
The conference will include both English and Spanish.
The Multihousing Conference is open to any SBTC church and Oden believes that it can be a benefit to any church, including those in smaller communities with fewer multihousing units.
“The principles that will be discussed and the resources given can be used by any church for any kind of local outreach,” Oden said. “We will show how to specifically use it for apartments, condos, townhomes, mobile homes, duplexes, nursing homes and retirement communities.”
In addition to showing how a wide-range of multihousing communities can be reached, Oden said the conference will deal with common issues in multihousing outreach.
“Practical information will be given on how to deal with community management, as well as how church membership can become aware and move out to reach these communities for Jesus Christ,” Oden said. “Even smaller towns are finding multihousing communities being built there. I have also personally used these principles in other kinds of community outreach. I believe every church can gain important information on how to reach out to the area where their church is located.”
Registration for the conference is open until Sept. 18. For more information or to register online, visit sbtexas.com/churchplanting. Registration is also available by phone at 817-552-2500, ext. 249 or 1-877-953-SBTC.
The Multihousing Mission and Ministry Conference is made possible by gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Reach Texas State Missions Offering.