jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

ah crap! i’ve got Crack in my eye!

Have you ever uttered those words when leaving church? If so, you are definitely freakishly missional. And yes, the quote comes from a true story. Dawn Dunbar, urban missionary, and recent addition to the blogroll hilariously recounts the story here.

After I graduated from college I spent six months with Steve Wright and the Hotdog Church in San Francisco. Pastor Steve, as the hundreds of regular attendees affectionately called him, spent 12 years in San Francisdo building a church of homeless persons. That’s right. Not a church that ministered to homeless persons, but a church OF homeless persons. He did it right downtown in one of America’s most expensive cities, which also boasts America’s largest homeless population. How did he do that?

Urban missionaries like Dawn, Steve, and Dennis Adams (currently pastoring a church among the large transient population in Santa Cruz, CA) have ministered “outside the gates,” where there is little recognition, no funding, and unbelievable costs. They are part of a growing trend of missional disciples who are determined to minister in the hardest of circumstances. In order to do this they have decided to move away from the attractional mode of ministry so dominant in the late 20th century and embraced the incarnational ministry modeled by Jesus in the 1st century.

This type of ministry, with little or no membership and tithe numbers to boast about, rarely gets highlighted by institutions. In the rare occasion that an incarnational ministry of this type is highlighted it feels a bit like getting used–“See, our institution does good stuff for hurting people.” I’m not sure how they make it. It must be the Lord. Do you want to know if you have a missional heart? If so, just ask yourself this question: Am I ready to get some Crack in my eye–and never get appreciated for it?

19 comments on “ah crap! i’ve got Crack in my eye!

  1. Dennis J Adams
    March 14, 2008

    Jon, well put and I am proud to be where He wants us to be! What is crack? Just kidding! In my church each week I have to ask people to put out the joints and pipes full of marijuana and listen to what Jesus is saying to their hearts. Man, I love the Lord. I am sure he really digs what happens in His church here in Santa Cruz. there are so many that receive Him it is awesome! Please come to Santa Cruz and preach for us! Do it!


  2. Travelin' On
    March 14, 2008

    OK Jon, When I read your title today I said to myself, “YEP, it’s fer sure…., his therapist MUST be out of town or something.” LOL
    Interesting post. I remember spending Mother’s day 2006 right there in San Fransisco’s Hot Dog Church! Aaron took us. It was an awesome experience. They are doing a ministry that many others would simply shun, but yet, it is vital. We THINK we are serving the “fringes” of society in our churches. I thought so too…that is until I started working in community mental health.
    While I realize that in the churches I have attended, they did feel that they were welcoming and service oriented etc. etc…..most of these clients in the mental health community that I have since met, would probably not feel welcome or served in most of our local churches.
    It FEELS like many churches have simply become a place to gather “like peoples” and sing, shout, and be glad together. (I know, I know, that’s extreme but you know what I mean….
    There’s so much mission work in our community. There’s so much more to church than the church building, (structure and function).
    I’m not suggesting that I have it all figured out but I am glad that I have had an opportunity to meet real folks and hear real needs and learn from others.
    There are many people in our community that are doing DAILY church work and DAILY ministry but noone will ever know because it is not about a denomination or a church building nor is it happening inside one. It is simply about sharing Christ and giving, “such as I have.” (See Corky A’s post titled “14-Hour day” for example.)

  3. Phil Hoover, Chicago
    March 14, 2008

    You are my hero, Jon!

    Love you bud…love your blog….Keep it up…

  4. Steve Wright
    March 14, 2008

    Jon thanks for the shout-out on the hotdogchurch. I don’t even want to share the story of the old lady that was standing right in front of me after I prayed one Sunday. I opened my eyes and there she was with one tooth in her head and a smile. She took hold of my face and gave me a big French Kiss. When she was finished I said, “Okay, where were the ushers on that one?”

  5. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    Dennis, praise the Lord! I’m glad you’re finally asking them to put them out instead of asking them to pass it over! I would love to come out and be with you guys again. And would be honored to preach. I hope it works out at some point.

    Phil, I’m glad I went from goat (leaving you off the blogroll) all the way to hero! Love you too man!

    Steve, that’s classic. When you say French kiss…do you mean…well, like she managed to get her tongue in your mouth? LOL!

  6. Jonathan Stone
    March 14, 2008

    DB! Yes, you hit the nail on the head, my therapist goes out of town and I immediately start posting about hardcore drugs!

    Also, your post got me really, really excited. I have a strong conviction that we are missing it by not celebrating the ministry that is taking place on a daily basis by regular church members/attendees! And I’m not talking about celebration for the sake of recognition, but rather celebration in order to wake up the rest of the members/attendees to the fact that they are fighting very serious spiritual battles right in the trenches. That’s the grassroots! And if the church is ever going to see a radical revival, and not just a shift in policy and organization, it will happen as the laypeople (sorry, lack of a better word) begin to take ownership for the mission of the church.

    But that’s not going to ever happen if the pastor’s do not cast the vision and empower the people to do it. And when they do that it will have to be without strings attached. In other words, it can’t be “Hey you have a mission! You’re mission is to be nice to all the people you know so you can get as many of them as possible to come to church.” No! It’s going to have to be true incarnational ministry that grows out of God’s love for His creation. Thank you so much for your post!

  7. Steve Wright
    March 14, 2008

    Yes she got the tongue in. A moment I will never forget. LOL

  8. Louis Morgan
    March 15, 2008

    Steve, I think if that happened to me I would need a therapist myself!! I hope to visit the HotDog Church sometime this year. I consider Eric to be a great friend. I really appreciate the ministry there– and now realize I should not just say i appreciate it, but show that i appreciate it.

    DB, you really blessed me with your comments. I also like your thinking… church services should be open to whomever, but often it seems attract like-minded people. And I agree with Jon that reaching the “whomever” in the community is the real grassroots of the church.

    Jon, thanks for noting that the church should focus on empowering its people– ministry is something all believers should be doing throughout the community.

    This is a great post and discussion. I may have more thoughts tomorrow– when my brain is working again. 🙂

  9. Big D\'Art
    March 15, 2008

    Dawn is a superstar. We took a group of students out to San Francisco last summer and she rocked. Just the other night my family got to have dinner with her. I look forward to see what God is going to do in her life. Crack in the eye and all!


  10. Dennis J Adams
    March 15, 2008

    Jon: Let’s make it happen! I will save some of the “Boulder Creek stash” for you when you and “the therapist” get here. 😉 Just kidding!
    Instead of an offering, how about if I cover the cost of a tat? Not kidding!

  11. Jonathan Stone
    March 15, 2008

    Steve, that’s hilarious!

    D’Art, I too am looking forward to seeing where the Lord leads Dawn. And also looking forward to seeing how He leads you in your work in Boston. I will definitely be tuning in to in order to follow along and support you guys in prayer. Blessings brother!

    Louis, please post your thoughts on unleashing the people for the mission of the church!

    Dennis, am I allowed to get a tat?

  12. Dennis J Adams
    March 15, 2008

    GF4, yes you can! Your design though! Now if we are talking about what may split the church this may cause a fissure for sure.


  13. Jonathan Stone
    March 15, 2008

    GF, however, if I design a tat that includes the CoG logo perhaps that will prevent a split.

  14. Paul and Kim Dyar
    March 16, 2008

    Jon, Here in Honduras the ministry that we have started is a school for the deaf children and adults. However I have taken on an adult Bible study on Sunday afternoons. There is one church for the deaf here, but they only want the “clean ones”. We have opened our Center up to “whosoever will” and they have been coming. From prostitutes to alcoholics, one by one we are reaching this outcast group of people that society has given up on or has said they are a worthless people. Two weeks ago I had the privilege to share the gospel with 32 deaf and 18 received Jesus into their hearts. It is a different world outside the walls, but Jesus did most of His earthly ministry outside.
    I wish people could understand that the Bible doesn’t say that the perfect will be saved, but those who believe on his name.
    I have met many who believe, but just can’t get past the struggle.
    Some will produce 100, some 60, some 30. May these are the 30% people, but at least they are trying.
    Don’t ever give up on the 30%. I was one of those and some times feel I still am, but God’s grace gives me the strength to keep on.


  15. Jonathan Stone
    March 17, 2008

    Paul, thanks so much for sharing that. I really appreciate the spirit in which you shared those things. And I’m really excited to hear about who you’re working with and what the Lord is doing. I was talking to a close friend last night about “dislocation.” It seems to me that God has had to “dislocate” me from traditional ministry in order to “open my eyes” to the fact that He is most easily found on the margins, or “outside the gate.” My friend has a small church plant called “Beyond Sunday.” The Sunday Morning church service is the very center of American cultural church. But God wants to dislocate us from that culture, in order to send us to the margins–to send us beyond Sunday. I feel a kindred heart with you from your post. Perhaps we’ll have the chance to meet some day. In the meantime, perhaps we can keep up with each other in this “blogosphere.”

  16. Jonathan Stone
    March 17, 2008

    Paul! I didn’t realize who I was talking to! It’s great to hear from you, and I love the focus of your mission work. Tom Rosson recently posted about a deaf church in Russia on his blog. I can’t wait to hear more!

  17. Dawn
    March 19, 2008

    Thanks for the encouragement and shout-out. I’ve learned that truly mission-minded people are a rare breed. There’s plenty of work to be done.

  18. Jonathan Stone
    March 19, 2008

    Dawn, you bet. And I have also experienced that truly missional people are a rare breed. I have found myself to be lacking as well, too content with my own comfort to do much that really makes a different. However, I have reason to hope that this will change, and that the change will happen quickly–a revival of missionally minded people. Only God knows for sure.

    Are you moving to Charlotte?

  19. Dawn
    March 20, 2008

    Yes, I moved to Charlotte in January.
    I’m loving it so far. I’m eager to see how God will use me on this side of the land!

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2008 by in faith, missional.
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