Why Did the Church Cross the Road?


Harry Li, Senior Pastor


We are often asked, "Why 72204?"  "Why not pick up and move your church into an area of town that will attract more people?"  Our answer, up until recently, has been something like, "It's where the Lord has called us," which of course is still the right answer.  Our understanding of the dynamics of planting our church in an under-resourced section of the city was based on our calling, but lacked depth of understanding of why things were the way they were.  

We are turning 15 years old in March of 2017.  Fifteen!  I marvel at the goodness of our Lord when I think about all that has happened over the course of those 15 years.  So many stories of miracles, salvations, provisions, healings, redemption ... you name it, it's probably happened around here.  What I have found to be true is that God works amongst the neediness of His people.  It is a messy, dirty, dramatic, difficult work, not meant for the faint of heart or the thinned-skinned.  However, amongst the poverty stricken and neediness is also the place where God is ever present, proving to all those around this ministry that He is alive and well, still active and willing to show Himself to those that seek Him.  

One of the most prominent research study on the American Church showed that church growth is heavily dependent on socio-economics.  A comprehensive, multiyear study that included some two hundred thousand churches, the report was one of the first to point out trends in the American church which were disturbing but just starting to rear their ugly head.   One of the most striking results of the study showed the growth of the evangelical church sorted by Median Household Income (Figure 1). Churches with more affluent congregants grew at a very healthy 17.4%, but as the median household income dropped, so did the growth rate of the church. Sadly, below a median income of $50,000, evangelical churches began to shrink (negative growth), until on the far extreme, churches with a median household income of $30,000 or less were shrinking at an alarming rate (-4.3%).

Figure 1. Growth Rate of the Evangelical Church Based on Median Household Income

This hit home because I knew that the ZIP Code in which Mosaic Church, Little Rock resides, 72204, had a median household income (in 2010, but not a whole lot more today) of around $30,000.  What are the long term implications on the Church in America if these trends continue long term?  I pictured the fisherman’s dragnet to which Christ compares the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13:47, and in that moment, saw it with one horrific, defining characteristic: it contained significant holes over the most poverty stricken areas in America! Entire communities were being disenfranchised by the hope of the gospel based on the socio-economics and realities of church finances.

We committed in our hearts to make Mosaic’s knot in the net as strong and secure as possible and to find ways to build up a thriving church for all people in an area that desperately needed transformation in every sense of the word. Two strategies began emerging. One, we knew that Mosaic had to have help from the outside in order to grow. We had to attract both members from outside 72204 and concerned nonmembers willing to invest. Secondly, we had to be as creative as possible to find other streams of income beyond the traditional tithes and offerings.

This is why we need your help!  There are some very good reasons tied to the reality of modern church finances, church planting strategies, urban areas of need, that result in a shrinking church in the inner city.  Be a part of helping to resurrect the ruins of our urban areas.  Help us tie the knot at the corner of University and Asher in 72204 and restore the hope of the gospel to those that desperately need it.