Alex Schweng, Pastor, Missio Dei Oakland
By: Alex Schweng
We are Missio Dei Oakland (MDO): a church plant in East Oakland. Mike Tyson's famous quote summarizes our journey well. "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. " Yes! You have all these goals, a mission statement, core values, a big vision, etc. Then reality uppercuts you in your grill and you're just trying to survive. And then small, subtle temptations to compromise creep in. That's happened to us a lot. However, we have managed to stay true to three big commitments from the get go. Here they are and what we've experienced in the process. First, the poor. MDO only serves the poor and struggling. We feel this is our calling from God and we've fought hard to stay true to it. It brings up financial challenges, but it also brings us into relationship and solidarity with the poor and how hard life can be. What our people go through can be crushingly sad and horrific. Their stories humble us, change us, and break us. Serving the poor also means our church is made up of dishwashers, day laborers, fast food workers, janitors, warehouse workers, the unemployed, and everything in between. Violence, trauma, crime, and family brokenness are found in many of their lives. They are often looked down upon or simply ignored in our world as people who don't matter. But God loves the poor! And it is a beautiful thing to see a person's life changed by the mercy, dignity, and power the gospel provides. Second, MDO only serves unbelievers. Meaning, when we meet Christians we kind of give the cold shoulder. Not because we don't love our Christian family! We just really wanted to see if a church plant could grow through evangelism alone. This has made our growth slow. And small. And difficult. Additionally, some of the folks in our neighborhoods can be violent, sometimes crazy, and be in lots of trouble. So we are often at the jail and psychiatric hospital and continuation high school for ministry. But God is powerful! Some of our conversion and discipleship stories are crazy beautiful. Dramatic. Amazing. We have extreme highs and lows. But our highs are pretty crazy high. Plus, in serving only unbelievers, no one comes with church baggage. That's been kinda wonderful! Third MDO is an urban house church network. We are not Sunday centric but community/neighborhood focused. We plant house churches for small social networks and then gather everyone together on a monthly basis. So although we are small we are incredibly diverse. Currently our church is made up of folks who are Mexican, African American, Russian, Vietnamese, Native American, Filipino, Colombian, Chinese, Cambodian, Salvadorian, and Korean. As an urban church we wanted to reach the diversity of the city. The evangelistic house church approach was our best idea for seeing that happen.
We are grateful to be in ministry with NextGen!