By Meghan Hendrickson
Revive, Evangelize, Assimilate, Cultivate and Harvest: Those are the aims of a new ministry that will launch this week in the Waco community.
The REACH Experience was created by four graduate students from George W. Truett Theological Seminary and intended primarily for young adults between the ages of 18 and 36.
Although The REACH Experience was created by young adults for young adults, Lee Edwards II, president of the Truett Black Student Association and co-founder of The REACH Experience, said people of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to participate.
“From the crib all the way up to great-grandparents — we want everybody to come,” Edwards said.
The REACH Experience will have its first worship service at 6 p.m. Sunday in Miller Chapel of Tidwell Bible Building, where Edwards will preach.
The second worship service will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Greater New Light Church, located at 925 N. 18th Street, where co-founder and marketing coordinator of The REACH Experience Christopher Jones will preach.
The ministry’s founders said they plan to hold worship services throughout the spring semester, and, after taking a break over the summer, continue services in the fall.
In addition to worship services, The REACH Experience is in the process of creating tangible outreach ministries to serve the needs of the Waco community.
“We want to not only reach as a worship service, but reach in the community where there are needs, such as working with troubled adolescent youth, hosting young adult camps, working with homeless shelters and the elderly,” Edwards said. “The opportunities that approach us are endless.”
Edwards said reaching out to people is divided in two formats.
For believers who are already a part of the Christian community, Edwards hopes The REACH Experience will challenge them to use their God-given spiritual gifts and help them continue to develop spiritually.
For those who are not yet believers, Edwards said he prays the ministry will show them the face of the Christian church — that they might see the church cares and ultimately Christ cares.
Ralph D. West II, co-founder and executive director of The REACH Experience, said he is looking forward to exemplifying a worship service that reaches out to a diverse community.
He also said he hopes people will step up accordingly, to spur on the vision and ministry in coming seasons.
“Even though we [just] started the foundation, we’re always looking for someone to carry it into the future; people who catch fire of the vision and carry it further than we could dream by living out diversity,” West said.
Jones said the four men have been discussing the possibilities of The REACH Experience since the idea surfaced in October 2011, and they believe it has the potential to grow.
“As we talked more, it seems as though it’s something that could quickly spread like wildfire and catch on at any college campus in any city,” Jones said, adding he wants to be part of something “that can end up being greater than me someday.”
Michelangelo Clark, co-founder and worship coordinator of The REACH Experience, said he hopes the ministry will do exactly what it has set out to do in the ministry’s acronym.
Clark also said he hopes The REACH Experience will expose the community to young ministers and worship leaders who he said do not often get the opportunity to lead a congregation in scriptural and musical worship.
The founders of The REACH Experience said they want to point out that this ministry is not a church, but a Christian community they hope young adults and other Waco citizens can call a family.
“So many young adults come to Baylor and they’re away from their home and church; they don’t know which way to go and now they’re on a spiritual walk by themselves,” Edwards said. “We want to make sure they don’t lose that spirituality and we want them to connect.”
Edwards said he and the other founders hope the ministry will prove that young adults know how to worship in the “correct fashion.”
“Many people think when young adults get a hold of something, they’re going to add so much stuff to it that will water down the traditions — but we’ve found that’s not true,” Edwards said.
Although The REACH Experience began with just four men between the ages of 23 and 29, through prayer, the founders said they believe God has opened doors for them to grow into a fertile ministry among Waco’s young adult community.
The team believes “that the foundation of any ministry is going to have to be in prayer,” Edwards said. “God is the only foundation we want to build this up on. It is not about us.”
For more information, go to facebook.com/thereachexperience.