One of the first stories I ever captured for 6 Stones involved Foundation Baptist Church. In the dead heat of Texas summer, only a few weeks into my career here, I joined the resilient little church body in an empty field behind their new (old) building. At the time, the congregation was small. Fledgeling, even. There were maybe twenty of them, plus a dozen or so men and women from their parent church in Keller. But they were determined. Compassionate. Strong. The people of Foundation had decided that their mission field was the neighborhood that grew up around a building they inherited from a different congregation. They were going to serve every man and woman in it.
This was the little church that could.
It’s tough to know how to handle Foundation’s lead pastor, Casey Lewis, when you first meet him. The intensity of his eyes is matched by his fervent spirit, and his knowledge of Scripture can be intimidating. His love of Christ, and his subsequent vocation, centers on understanding the severity of sin in order to fully comprehend the grace offered at the cross. He’s direct and passionate, but he is also loving and composed. All he wants is for Christians to follow hard after Christ; to live as Jesus lived. He believes that they can transform a community by doing so.
Over the course of the last few years, the group he pastors has been growing at a steady pace. Those twenty believers have ballooned to nearly one hundred; a number that Casey identifies as the average for American congregations. Many of us have come to know ministry as the thing we plan elaborately in a lavish, cavernous space set aside for use on Sundays. For Casey, ministry is a different animal. It is unending, undeterred, and unpredictable.
Unfolding the Unplanned
Foundation has been on board with 6 Stones from the beginning. We worked together with them to feed the folks who turned out for the aforementioned field day, and they signed up to repair a home during CPR. They’ve hosted Night of Hope parties and guided families through Operation Back 2 School. But the most important work they do is some of the most important work we have: Foundation assists us with event follow-up.
During major 6 Stones events, every individual and family who receives help has the option of requesting follow-up. Our Community Ministries team will send volunteers to any household that asks to see us again. Sometimes, the visit is a simple check in. Often, volunteers pray with men and women who are overwhelmed both by their circumstances and by the kindness of this community.
For Casey — and the people of Foundation — there is no better place to serve.
“Not all ministry is on a calendar,” Casey said. “Not all ministry is planned. Many of the great moments in ministries are the ministries of life that just unfold, and you have to be prepared to point people to Christ.
“We need to be involved in the lives of people. We need to be involved in transformation. Because it’s not us who transforms them; it’s the life of Christ. It’s the power of God. He does that transformation, not us.”
The chance to step into someone else’s life, to meet them where they are, is invaluable for Casey. As a pastor, he is leading his church to reach out to the people who surround them. Evangelism and community service are hard wired into the people of his church.
New Church, Same Mission
Foundation launched in September of 2014. Their building, however, is much older. Nestled into a sprawling neighborhood that clings to a busy street, the grounds in Euless are easy to spot. But the congregation — formerly North Euless Baptist Church — sensed that they needed to make a change.
Casey was serving on staff at First Baptist Church of Keller when North Euless reached out in search of leadership who would replant their church. The little church knew that they needed help, and they committed to working with a new pastor to better serve their neighborhood. Bringing life back to a building that had stood in the center of the community, visible but unnoticed, would be a challenge. But the Bible is full of things that move from death into life.
Knowing that the area had a wealth of healthy congregations, Casey and the staff at FBC Keller spent weeks investigating the area and praying through the decision to launch a new church in the old building. The more they looked and prayed, the more they sensed that the neighborhood needed them.
“We immediately realized that for us to glorify the Lord here in Euless — to glorify the Lord in any town — you not only have to love the Lord, but you have to love the people in the city,” Casey said. “As Foundation Church, we said if we’re going to be healthy, we have to be healthy internally. But to be healthy, we also have to be reaching the community with the gospel.”
For a small church like Foundation, however, community programming and service opportunities can be problematically expensive. Without access to a broader resource base, it would be difficult to do much more than maintain the facilities. The staff knew from experience that an inward focus would kill the church.
New Life All Around
Two years after moving in, the church is putting down roots in the community. Attendance has grown, and so have the attendants.
“We started off with 25 people on a Sunday morning, and over the last two years the Lord has grown our church, and now we’re running 80. But numbers are not what is most important,” Casey told us, “What is most important is shepherding the flock, equipping the saints for the work of ministry. People are growing spiritually. We have 20-year-olds and 80-year-olds sharing the gospel for the very first time, falling in love with the Lord day after day, and being faithful to the Great Commission to go out, to evangelize, and to make disciples.”
For Casey, there is nothing so tragic as a Christian who keeps the Good News of Christ to themselves. It is a beautiful, motivating Truth that we have been ransomed from sin and death into life. As far as he is concerned, that Truth needs to be shared. It’s the duty of Christians to tell others about Christ, and the relationship that comes with following Him is transformative. Good news demands to be spread, and it’s easier to share if you live like it’s true. 6 Stones has given Foundation the chance to do just that.
“You’re helping others who need help. It’s not about my name, it’s not about the church’s name, and at the end of the day it’s not really about 6 Stones and their organization. You’re making it about having an opportunity to make much of Christ, to help other individuals,” Casey said.
“It’s a door for us to enter into partnership, to join hands with everybody. It's not just impacting those whose houses we’re going to work on. It’s not just impacting those individuals that you’re going to minister to. It’s also impacting those who are serving around you.”
Messes Worth Making
City Transformation isn’t about infrastructure or economics. It’s about fixing what’s broken in each of us by working together to fix what’s broken around us. That means diving head first into the difficult work of human relationships.
“It’s not that we’re just loving on people, and then we wash our hands when the event is over. We’ve loving on these people, and then I have the opportunity to lead the people here [at Foundation] for follow up. I have the opportunity to get into their homes and to talk to them about their life. I have the opportunity to talk to them and to share the gospel — which is the power of God for salvation — with them,” Casey said.
“This is a way for us to reach more people than we ever have. But what we have to realize is that you have to take advantage of that. You have to keep pushing forward. You have to spend the time… evangelism — discipleship — is messy. The cross was messy. We’re messy individuals. It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be tough.”
Despite all the stress and strain that comes from leading imperfect people to represent a perfect Savior, the work is well worth doing for a church that knows all too well how important relationships are. Life isn’t meant to be hoarded. It’s meant to be shared. That’s how we grow.
Growth — life — is always worth the work; even if it can get a little bit messy.