Growing up in Metro Detroit, mile markers were a common sight to Travis Whittaker. Roads like Six Mile, Eight Mile, and Fourteen Mile help people know where they are in relation to the city.
In similar fashion, Mile City Church – the church that Travis and his team are planting near Detroit – uses mile markers to move people toward God.
“Where are you on your journey toward God?” Whittaker asked the crowd of around 350 people during the Sept. 27 launch service. “You don’t have to believe or behave a certain way to begin the process of moving toward God. Move toward God and He will move toward you.”
The message of moving toward God greets people even before they enter the auditorium of the church’s meeting space at Schoolcraft College. The carpet in the entrance looks like a road and banners on both sides display the nine mile markers the church uses to move people towards God: Weekends, Baptism, Daily Encounter, Group, Coached, Coaching, Team, Sphere and Generosity.
While all nine mile markers are on display, several were prominent during the launch service.
Whittaker shared how Mile City Church had been the recipient of incredible generosity from partners like 242 Church, Kensington Church, and the North American Mission Board. He acknowledged that without them, the church would not be where it is today.
Following the example of their generosity, Whittaker said, “We want Mile City to be known for radical generosity right from the beginning.” He challenged attenders at the first service to fill grocery bags the church handed out with food to bring back to the service the next week.
The food would be donated to help another church plant in Detroit, City Church, with their Thanksgiving food distribution to hundreds of people. The following Sunday, more than 200 grocery bags were collected and over $600 was given to City Church.
At the launch service, the Team mile marker was on vivid display as volunteers were everywhere from the parking lot to the auditorium. Teams were in place to set up, greet, teach children, lead in worship, control lighting and sound, and much more. Whittaker is quick to acknowledge the teamwork that makes Mile City weekends happen.
Whittaker introduced Shea and Andrea Prisk to their congregation at their launch service on Sept. 27. Shea joined the church’s staff as Connection pastor and Andrea is the church’s new Kids’ Programming Director. The couple also will begin steps to plant another church soon.
“On our launch day, we were excited to announce that we will be helping launch another church plant in the next couple years,” Whittaker said. “As many have invested in us, we will be investing in this amazing couple.”
The vision is for Mile City to be a church that plants churches.
“We wanted to put that in our DNA from the beginning,” Whitaker said. “Wouldn’t it be great for Southern Baptist Convention church plants in Michigan to think that way?”
Whittaker knows the incredible difference it makes when a church plant is connected with sending and supporting churches.
“When churches plant churches, it works a lot better,” Whittaker said. “We have a national organization that helps, but I feel fortunate that I also have churches that are helping me.
“If all I had was the national organization, it wouldn’t be enough. When two or three churches get together, it works better.
“I am having conversations with lead pastors that are personally investing in me. It’s priceless. I am hoping that by our example, that other churches in Michigan will connect together and back other planters to plant more new churches.”
Mile City has made progress in moving people closer to God.
“I can finally fit in a place with my daughter and we both get something out of it,” one man said following a service. “We finally found a home.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article appeared in the Baptist Beacon at baptistbeacon.net, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Mike Durbin is a missionary with the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.)