Since its inception in 1980, in which a handful of workers were led of the Lord to come together to provide a Sunday School for thirty-four inner-city children who had been excluded from another church and placed on a “waiting list,” the Straitgate Church has been given a unique mission characterized by a place, a people, a purpose, and a principle.
The place is the inner city of Minneapolis. In its early days, Straitgate was a pilgrim church, meeting in university rooms, children’s missions, community centers, and private homes. Despite some daunting obstacles, including a conviction not to borrow money, never to ask for money, and not even have a collection, the Lord provided a grand church building in the heart of our area of ministry. The locale and facilities are ideal for our ministry.
The people we minister to are the multitudes of people groups in a bustling major city. Our special focus are those we know to be especially on God’s heart: the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. Our neighborhood is especially well-suited to this focus. It is the poorest neighborhood in the state, it is increasingly flooded with immigrants from all over the world, it has many children from single parent homes, and it is full of women who have been abandoned and left with children. We cannot think of a more “elite” ministry and count it a special honor to have this God-given opportunity.
The purpose of everything the church does is to make the mission of the Lord our mission. He came to “seek and to save” the lost. It is a saying worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If that is the main business of Christ’s kingdom, that is the business we want to be in. Our purpose is not to attract the disaffected in the increasingly popular game of church “musical chairs,” to build a “mega-church” with a conglomerate of competing social and spiritual purposes, or to provide a safe cocoon for risk-averse families with good standards. We seek to be soul-winners and we invite people to join us who share that purpose.
The purpose comes from a principle: except the Lord build the house, the laborers labor in vain. To that end, we decided that the church would build on a biblical foundation, with no concern about current conventions or “pragmatism.” Our methods are uncomplicated: the Word of God and prayer. We have no youth groups, no rummage sales, and little of the administrative apparatus of the modern church structure. We seek to preach the Word of God full strength, we pray together, including at some all-night prayer vigils, and we seek in everything we do to reach the lost souls of the city.
This purpose can only be achieved by a common commitment to the highest standards of personal separation and a high level of commitment to the work of the church. Those who are unwilling to defer in matters of questionable activities to accommodate the highest common denominator will not be happy here. Those who view the church as a resource only and view its meetings as optional will find the program difficult. Preparation for the work of ministry requires intensive exposure to those for whom, and with whom, ministry is done.