The Columbus City Reaching Gospel Movement

I have been involved in the city reaching gospel movement in Columbus, Ohio for approximately 30 years. During these years, I have witnessed many projectsprayer initiatives, stadium events, recruitment of best practice ministries from around the country – that have been imported and championed by excited Kingdom builders from all across the city. These efforts have met with varying degrees of success and failure.

Around 2010, a group of Columbus faith leaders learned about Mission Increase (MI) and began to kick the tires. We liked what we saw and began to explore ways to attract this Kingdom “best practice” into our city. Generous Giving answered the “Why should I give?” question surrounding Kingdom enterprising, and we embraced that ministry early. National Christian Foundation answered the “How should I give?” question, and God brought them here too. MI answered the “Where should I give? question 

The MI process/methodology encouraged nonprofit ministries to perform a deep dive into the understanding of their own capacities. Simultaneously, it forced these faithbased, nonprofit ministry practitioners to identify themselves by the ministry space they served, rather than their ministry’s individual name or logo. This consistent, and very intentional discipline, encouraged the formation of networksone for youth ministry, one for suburban hope centers, another for homelessness, etc. The John 17 oneness was unlike anything this community of 600 faith-based nonprofits had ever experienced. These networks continue to grow more numerous and robust in their collective efforts.  

The growth we’ve experienced is so incredible, we are struggling to find novel ways of measuring. It is beginning to look more like the Kingdom of God. Ambitious stuff. World changing stuff. These were dreams that the early investors in MI dreamed. The national MI office in Portland has consistently developed state of the art tools, curriculum, and measurement designed to build capacity within these member ministries. The fact that MI content is free to the ministry client is a compelling distinctive to the MI value proposition, but the “oneness” that has resulted from the formation of these networks, of which we now have 14, has been the game changer. 

I am biased, I suppose, as one of the early local investors in MI, but here we find ourselves a dozen years later and our workshops are still bulging. Ministries are growing their top line revenues. They are collaborating in new ways to increase Kingdom impact. They are praying for one another. More lost people are coming to know Jesus. More volunteers and staff and ministry funders are becoming “owners” and learning how to make disciples within the context of these member ministries.

In my mind, the Great Commission is the holy grail in ministry. To the extent we can excite people to keep the main things the main things, Jesus will be glorified. We still have much to learn here in Columbus but having MI in our city-wide ministry water system has been a profound blessing. This partnership has helped produce hope across the city and among the growing number of Kingdom workers in congregations, faithbased nonprofits, and marketplace ministry leaders who increasingly think of themselves as brothers and sisters attending the same churchthe church of Columbus. If Paul were alive today, would he write a letter to the church of Columbus? We think so. God loved Nineveh so much he could only find a recalcitrant Jonah to do the needed work. We have seen the MI wineskin perform similarly in other American cities. It is a powerful tonic for the reasons outlined above, but possibly its consistent reliance upon prayer, the Word of God, and discipleship helps to explain the outsized contribution that it has made in our city. MI punches above their weight. The fact that we employ the dean of city director jockeys, MI Area Director Wally Martinson, to ride this thoroughbred ministry horse is also a big help. Wally and his wife Anne have been faithful members of the Columbus community for decades.

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He prays that we might be one just as He and the Father are one. For the church of Columbus to effectively model this oneness, the three spheres of the church must act as one. They must love one another, extol one another, admonish one another, and speak truth to one another. These are things we are learning to do in Columbus within these growing ministry networks and we owe MI a huge debt of gratitude for helping show us the way.

Dave Durell
MI National Board Member
Founder of MI Central Ohio