6 Stones leads churches in transforming communities
March 8th, 2017 / By: Erin Roach | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
EULESS First Baptist Church in Euless was emerging from millions of dollars in debt when an apartment building near the campus burned down. A staff member approached pastor John Meador with news of a resident who was left with nowhere to go and no one to help her.
“The reality was we could not help her because of the policies of our church,” Meador recounted. “At the time, being so deep in debt, the church said, ‘We’ve got to finish our obligations first. We can’t necessarily help the community at this moment.’”
Meador recalled “a grief, a heartbreak” that the church could not help someone in a time of need. That conversation prompted a “soul-searching, a time of prayer and fasting” that led to a leap of faith.
The church, in 2008, cast a vision for 6 Stones, a coalition of churches, businesses, and others that transform lives, homes, and communities. At a Catalyst of Hope forum Feb. 2 in Bedford, a panel of representatives explained how churches can replicate the 6 Stones model.
“It was kind of unusual for us to be approached at the city by someone asking, ‘What can we do for you?” Gary McKamie, a former Euless city manager, said. “… At the time, property values were falling. We had all sorts of needs. … We had a growing group of people that didn’t have decent roofs over their heads.”
First Baptist, via 6 Stones, partnered with the city—with the help of federal housing grants—to revitalize deteriorating homes.
Gene Buinger, a former superintendent of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, said more than 50 percent of children in the area today come from homes at the federal poverty level or below, and more than 70 languages of the world are spoken in homes throughout the district.
When 6 Stones asked Buinger how they could help the school system, “I could give a whole laundry list of things that they could do with us,” Buinger said.
Kim Campbell, a community affairs manager from TXU Energy, said 6 Stones gives her company an opportunity to collaborate with cities and then show elected officials what the company does in local communities. “What’s good for business is good for the community as well,” Campbell said.
Dan Alderson of Atmos Energy said his company helped revitalize nine homes with 6 Stones last year, picking up the bills for materials. “It gives our employees an opportunity to get out and serve,” Alderson said.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said collaboration between the private sector, the nonprofit sector and the public sector is what transforms communities. “It’s all best served when it’s the nonprofit that is really leading that collaboration because folks will volunteer, they will donate to a nonprofit. I haven’t had a whole lot of people line up to volunteer and to donate to the county,” Whitley said.
Faye Beaulieu, who works at the United Way and serves on the HEB school board, said her two roles enable her to see needs of the whole child. She cited “a litany of programs that 6 Stones brings that benefit the school district,” including repairing homes.
“If kids are not in a stable home where there’s adequate lighting, adequate plumbing, the roof doesn’t leak, then they’re not going to be able to study and they’re not going to be able to focus,” Beaulieu said.
Eric Swanson, a missional leadership specialist at Leadership Network, was the guest speaker at the forum, and he said the gospel is the integration of the good news and the good deeds of Jesus. As the Apostle Peter summed it up, Swanson said, God preached the good news through Jesus, and Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit, went about doing good.
“Preaching the good news and doing good deeds was kind of the rhythm of Jesus' life and his ministry, because it’s the good deeds that verified the good news, but it’s the good news, the words, that clarified the meaning of the deeds.”
Eric Swanson, a missional leadership specialist at Leadership Network
“Preaching the good news and doing good deeds was kind of the rhythm of his life and his ministry,” Swanson said of Jesus, “because it’s the good deeds that verified the good news, but it’s the good news, the words, that clarified the meaning of the deeds.”
Swanson said the old church model was to use talents outside the church to build the church. Teachers were thought to make great Sunday School teachers. Businessmen were ideal for the finance committee.
“I think today there’s a shift going on and the best churches are really releasing the people in their churches to be transformational agents wherever they are,” Swanson said. “… It’s not about building your church; it’s about using your church to build God’s kingdom.”