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Multihousing association expands via the Internet

DENVER (BP)–In its first two days of existence on the information superhighway, the Multihouse Mouse connected with 44 people, none of whom responded with an “Eeek!”
The Multihouse Mouse is the newsletter of the Southern Baptist Multihousing Association and it’s available free via the organization’s new site on the World Wide Web. The brainchild of the association’s current president Jim Walters, the web address is — all lower case — http://www.rt66.com/multihousing (use no punctuation at the end of the address). It is user-friendly and available via all major search engines.
Multihousing ministry focuses on people who live in densely populated environs such as apartment buildings, gated communities and mobile home parks.
“This is for people interested in reaching outside the church campus,” said Walters, who also is a missions pastor at Bear Valley Church in metro Denver. “It’s for those who take the gospel to where the people are.”
Several studies have shown that when asked their church affiliation, about 50 percent of U.S. residents will name the name of a specific church. But of multihousing residents, fewer than 10 percent will name a specific church.
“Multihousing is one of the hottest topics in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Walters said with the passion of conviction. “In the context of multihousing, church planters say, ‘I go into multihousing ministry to get a foothold to plant a church.’ The others, they go in to do feeding and other types of ministry, and a church grows out of it.
“Multihousing is one of the purest forms of church,” Walters continued. “It’s people-centered rather than building-centered — except in mobile home parks, where sometimes residents will buy an old mobile home, gut it to the walls and use it as a chapel. Their offerings will pay the lot rent.”
The Multihouse Mouse made its debut May 1. The web site was designed by a professional and evolved from Walter’s use of e-mail as a pastoral aid. It already provides 50 information bites in how to develop, start and continue multihousing ministry in mobile home parks, high-rise apartment buildings, gated communities and other places where at least six families live in close proximity.
Two hundred or more information bites are planned, Walters said. Papers, reports, speeches, seminar outlines and other resources are being gathered from Southern Baptist experts in the multihousing field, such as Tillie Burgin, who has led in the starting of at least 125 satellite churches connected with First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas.
Other experts sharing their expertise include Barbara Oden, formerly of Houston and New York, who now ministers among Las Vegas high rises; Tim Ahlen, pastor of the Country Church of Mesquite, Texas, and the most active speaker for multihousing training conferences in Texas, plus many more.
The Southern Baptist Multihousing Association has five stated purposes: to support people who do multihousing work, either engaged in starting churches and/or meeting physical needs; to provide a network of exchange of information; to provide opportunities for professional growth; to encourage and promote those who enter this work; and to provide recognition to people who have done outstanding work.
The organization was started in 1986 as an informal “lunch bunch” during Home Missions Week at Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference centers, for those interested in multihousing ministry. By the time Walters was named president, there were 1,200 names on its dated mailing list and 50 members paying $12 annual dues.
Walters scrapped the mailing list and started developing a new one that already has 700 names on it. More names will come as visits to the web site increase, he said. The level of information exchange, spiritual support and dues-paying members will increase exponentially as word spreads about the web site, he predicted.
“There are four kinds of people who affiliate with this organization,” Walters said. “There are the people who do this for a living, the professionals; all kinds of church leaders who have multihousing as an interest among other things they do; church members who volunteer in multihousing ministries; and those who live in multihousing communities and have membership in a church that only meets in a multihousing setting.”
The future of the Southern Baptist Multihousing Association includes on-line business meetings, Walters said. Statewide chapters also are being formed. Louisiana’s is the first.