Ward Church is not just a location or an institution, we are a movement of people who love and serve in Jesus name. From prison, the Apostle Paul asked believers to pray that God would “open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3-4). In the New Testament, an open door is a picture of an opportunity to share Jesus in word and deed. Only God can open a door. Our job is to boldly walk through the doors God has opened.

Open Doors is a two year vision that asks us to grow in faith and obedience, in a variety of ways, as we prepare Ward Church to respond to three large doors of opportunity we believe God has revealed and which require our immediate attention. Open Doors reflects Ward’s continuing commitment to the mandate expressed in Acts 1:8 which instructs the church to go to “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” We have a role to play in ministering to people across the street and around the world, so the “doors” we are focusing on are India, Detroit and the Western Suburbs.

INDIA

God has opened a door in India among the Dalit people. The oppression of India’s “untouchables” is an issue that requires our immediate and deliberate action. The Dalit people are receptive to the Good News, especially when demonstrated in Christian kindness. The key to breaking the cycle of poverty and oppression is education.

CHALLENGE

When we read the Good News and study the ministry of Jesus, a pattern becomes quite clear. Whether he was meeting with the woman at the well, healing a man of leprosy, or showing compassion in so many ways in between, Jesus was a friend of the so-called untouchables. His heart was for the people who were marginalized and pushed to the very edge of their communities.

This heart inspires Ward Church to care about the modern day untouchables like the Dalit of India. A people who for countless generations have been oppressed by the culture’s caste system, which endures today even though it was outlawed many years ago. In Sanskrit, Dalit means ground, suppressed, crushed or broken to pieces. But these words only begin to describe the challenge the people of this tribe face even today.

Located in Northern India, Bihar is the third largest state in the country based on population. It’s also the youngest, with nearly 60% of inhabitants age 25 or below. That means Bihar is the future. Emerging generations are the majority here. More than 83 million people live in this densely populated region. And a quarter or more of them are Dalit – men, women and children who are oppressed for no other reason than their social class and ancestry.

Class oppression of Dalit is an issue that can only be overcome with deliberate action, compassion and love. The Dalit long for a different world. They long for freedom. The local church has a critical role to play in breaking the cycle of poverty and Ward can help. By responding to the Open Doors vision, we can make a dramatic impact in the lives of thousands of people. We can demonstrate the love of God by creating opportunities that simply will not exist without our action.

OUR RESPONSE

We will provide resources for the construction of classrooms and the supporting infrastructure for a school.
We will sponsor every child in the school who is not currently sponsored so that an entire generation can be transformed.
We will help leaders receive training to help address leadership needs in Bihar.
We will provide grants so that families in need can start businesses and become self-sufficient.

ENVISIONED FUTURE

As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will ease the suffering of the Dalit in Bihar. We will instill some in the youngest generations with a passion for learning, and we will provide a vibrant school so they can pursue that passion. Our long-term commitment to the school we build will ensure its impact for years to come. We will be part of the growing church in India by providing encouragement and support for its leaders. We will reinforce Ward’s existing work in Bihar, where we already have a grant program, so we can make money available to even more people. And because we do this, Dalit people will become physically and spiritually free. They will know that God loves them. They will know that God has heard their cries for help. They will see God provide for their needs through the ministry of the local church, supported by fellow Christians thousands of miles away.

 

To learn more about our work with the Dalits and to receive updates on projects associated with the India door, visit the blog.

Points of View

Cindy Ziemba

It’s so easy to get in the rut of my little world, my friendships, my concerns. These ministries open my eyes and heart to others who are not like me. It’s important for my faith, my compassion, and my schedule to be challenged to make a greater difference for Christ. When we see God moving, and the right people are in place, it’s exciting to help move that mission forward.

Rev. Doug Thompson

Just as we have found an “apostle” in the person of Jean Pierre Dabou in Mali, so have we found a patriarch in the person of Moses Parmar in India. He knows the language and culture and which questions to address. We don’t have to “reinvent” here, but follow this courageous brother as we respond to the needs of the Dalit people group.

DETROIT

God has uniquely placed us in the Detroit Metro area at a time of great need and opportunity. We will take our geography seriously. Detroit is the poorest city in America, and yet hope is rising. We will concentrate our efforts on a 24-block area of central Detroit in partnership with Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation. Our work is part of a larger community redevelopment master plan which includes housing, job creation, and education.

CHALLENGE

In its more than 300 year history, Detroit has been called many things. The Paris of the Midwest. Motown. Bankrupt. A city rising from the ashes. The world watches Detroit with interest because it represents in one location the peaks and valleys of modern civilization. Detroit put the world on wheels. A century later, division, disinvestment and dishonesty put Detroit on its knees.

Today, Detroit is a comeback story in the making. Many people choose not to believe it, but it’s true. Downtown – the city center – is buzzing with new development. Corporate headquarters, entertainment venues, stores, restaurants and public spaces are cropping up along every block. Millennials are rushing into the core of the city and creating a situation unimaginable just a decade ago: apartment buildings have waiting lists. Real estate is in high demand.

But a city is more than its skyscrapers and central business district. A city is its people. And its people live in neighborhoods. And most Detroit neighborhoods are largely untouched, unchanged, or unaffected by the boom happening Downtown. Crime, unemployment and shattered families continue to plague the city in the blocks where people live.

Detroit needs hope that things can be different. The greater church has a role to play because it should be the primary voice of hope in the world. Ward has a role to play because Detroit is our hometown. It’s where we grew up, figuratively and literally. Our church was originally founded in Detroit. Many of our members were raised in the city. A few of them still live there. We are tied to Detroit by geography and history. We see need and opportunity on the horizon as we look to our neighbor in the east.

As public and private interests join together to help Detroit recover, one thing is clear. This city must be transformed one neighborhood at a time. If we can get a foothold in a key location, change can spread to surrounding areas. Fortunately, strategic partners are already working to make this happen. The Open Doors vision means that Ward will simply support them in a more deliberate and consistent way.

OUR RESPONSE

We will team up with Central Detroit Christian to facilitate the purchase and renovation of dozens of homes in its 24-square block development area to remove all blight from its neighborhood north of Woodward and I-94
We will personally renovate 10 of the newly acquired homes so families can move in and populate each block as good neighbors
We will plant a dynamic new church in the same neighborhood so that people living there will have the opportunity to know Christ and grow in faith
We will develop a community garden in the same neighborhood so residents can build community in a shared space as they grow healthy and affordable food
We will launch a new preschool so young children in the neighborhood can have access to high quality, early education

ENVISIONED FUTURE

As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will encourage and resource our partner, Central Detroit Christian. We will increase CDC’s ability to fulfill its mission. We will take an active role in helping families become stronger. We will give dozens of families a fresh start and secure homes in which to raise their children. We will breathe life into one of Detroit’s strategic neighborhoods so it can spread to other parts of the city. We will help people hear the message of Jesus in ways that make sense to them. We will invest countless hours to renovate homes, and in the process, build relationships with our new friends in the city. Over time, an entire neighborhood will be reborn. Observers who wonder how this happened will discover a group of Christ-followers who chose to invest in Detroit out of love. 

 

To learn more about our work with the CDC and receive updates on projects associated with the Detroit door, visit the blog.

Points of View

Jane Botting

Ward has worked in Detroit with CDC and other partners for many years. We know that the only real hope for lasting change in Detroit or anywhere is in Jesus Christ. At this time when there is a lot of positive change going on in the city of Detroit and many opportunities to get involved, now is the time for Ward to step up and increase our contribution to the city as we continue to partner with CDC on this redevelopment master plan.

Lincoln Moore

Detroit has a been a place of racial strife and oppression for so long that it sometimes feels like suffering is in its bones. Jesus has another story to tell about Detroit and Ward can be a voice proclaiming that story. When we come together to serve and love one another, we make space for the love of Jesus to enter into our lives… We find a place to practice repentance and forgiveness.

WESTERN SUBURBS

Believing that our primary mission field is to our immediate neighbors, we will activate our campus and our members to serve not only our congregation, but the greater community, with Jesus at the center.

CHALLENGE

As a church, our primary mission field is to our immediate neighbors – the people we encounter closest to where we live, work and play. They are the ones we see day after day. But while we may have frequent contact with our neighbors – maybe even spending hours near them each week – if we are completely honest, we realize we are missing countless opportunities for true and meaningful connection. It’s ironic, and potentially tragic, that in a time when people are more open to spiritual conversations, many in the church feel like they lack the best words and environments to help them happen naturally and authentically.

Ultimately, a church is not a building or a campus. A church is a people. That means Ward isn’t a “what.” Ward is a “who.” Still, our campus is one of the most important tools we have to help us engage others and share the light of Jesus with the world.

From the very youngest to the very oldest in our church family, we need a more effective tool to promote more effective ministry. Over the past year, the people who have explored the Open Doors vision have asked a lot of questions. We’ve studied and prayed. We’ve thought and discussed. And through it all, we believe God has spoken.

Can a building help promote better relationships? Can Ward’s space be transformed so that it deliberately welcomes new people and inspires them on their journey to faith? Can we learn and grow together to more actively and creatively share God’s love with the world around us? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

OUR RESPONSE

We will actively invite community groups to use Ward’s building so that we are good neighbors and good stewards
We will activate our campus and create gathering spaces that are fun, inspiring and inviting
We will build an indoor children’s play structure accessible during the week so parents can connect with other parents while their kids play together
We will create a new entrance with a drive-up, covered drop off so Ward’s building is easily accessible to people of all ages and physical abilities
We will add a café to our hospitality area with weekday coffee service to create an environment that welcomes people to our building and gives them an enjoyable space for conversation and connection
We will remodel the nursery wing for increased safety, traffic flow and comfort so parents and their kids feel welcomed, safe and confident in the care Ward provides
We will increase wayfinding signs, disabled parking and covered entryways so we can be the best host to people with all types of needs
We will create and send quality invitations about Ward’s programs and events so our community will understand there is a place for them here
We will grow together through teaching series and group studies to improve our ability to have spiritual conversations and share the gospel so that the entire church can express God’s love to the world around them
We will equip Ward’s members for ministry in the workplace so that each one may “bloom where they are planted” with vocational calls that are fully honored and realized
We will leverage social media as a way to hear from and speak to people who are seeking God, so the power of relational technology is harnessed for the gospel

ENVISIONED FUTURE

As a direct result of investing in each of these ways, we will activate Ward’s campus. The corner of 6 Mile and Haggerty will come alive with activity. Our building will be developed as a hub – keeping in mind this place is not the ultimate destination. Our building will be a launching off point to take hope into our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. Ward’s members will spend themselves in community. We will be known as a people who follow God, carry the burdens of those who are hurting and show the world a better way. We will be visible, engaging and part of what makes the Western Suburbs a great place to live. People will feel at home on our campus. They will be inspired by the gathering places offered here throughout the week. Our building will be accessible and useful for every generation. And we will use it to express love joyfully, generously, with no strings attached.

 

To see architectural and artistic renderings and receive updates on projects associated with the Western Suburbs door, visit the blog.

Points of View

Doug Bingham

I have benefited greatly from my long-term relationship with both the people of Ward Church and the people of the City of Northville. That said, I hope to introduce anyone I can to the wonderful people of Ward, to our facility and eventually our Lord. I want our facility to be as approachable, comfortable and as inviting as possible; I would have it be the ‘go to’ place for all ages. I’d like to see us ‘open doors’ in every way possible.

John Nowacki

Ward has been very intentional of late in being more open and hospitable to those in our community. Activities both within our building and outside on our campus have been increasing over the past two years. The building enhancements will increase our ability to create an experience that makes our guests feel at home, welcome and accepted. We want to be a church where new guests drop their guard, relax their fears and are open to the message of God’s grace.

NUMBERS

Where we are as of today:

$4,393,058

has been pledged to date,
and $2,583,609 has been given to date.

 

The figures presented below are the projected investments required for each area of this initiative. Door Champions, staff and vendors will continue to work in collaboration with Ward’s Board of Trustees to ensure projects and costs remain on task and on target. The congregation will receive progress updates about all three doors as projects move forward.

 

TOTAL GOAL

$4,132,000

Door totals and total goal include expense allowances for fundraising, management and construction contingencies spread across all three areas.

KEY DATES

Project Timeline is tentative and subject to change, follow updates here and on the blog.

GIVE

Commitment Sunday was November 16, 2014, but you can make a pledge or a one-time gift at any time. Pray about your financial investment in the Open Doors vision, then visit the pledge tool on our online giving website. By giving in a sacrificial way, you will help Ward Church increase its impact close to home and around the world. Please don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this important moment in Ward’s future.

 

MAKE A PLEDGE

For in-depth information on “How to Make an Over & Above Gift to Open Doors,” and discussions on topics like “Priority Budgeting, Redirecting Present Expenditures, Giving Excess,” etc… See this post on our blog.

PRAY & PROCLAIM

Colossians 4:3-4
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

From prison, the Apostle Paul asked believers to pray that God would “open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” In the New Testament, an open door is a picture of an opportunity to share Jesus in word and deed. Only God can open a door. Our job is to boldly walk through the doors God has opened.

A huge aspect of this vision moving forward is prayer. At Ward, we believe strongly in the power of prayer. Prayer is not only about petitioning God, asking that He would open doors, but it is about surrendering our hearts to His will. Prayer has a way of breaking down our selfish desires and propelling us forward in obedience.

Over the next two years, we will be focusing as a church on praying this prayer of the Apostle Paul. While we are not in physical chains like he was, we do face cultural, personal and spiritual struggles every day. It is important that we pray daily for God to open a door, and that we would walk through it boldy.

There is a devotional aspect to this vision as well. Guides are available at the Open Doors kiosk in the Grand Mall and on the blog.

On November 1 & 2, 2014 we held a 24-hour prayer vigil in the Chapel. But the time to pray is not over. We invite you to join us throughout these next two years as we surrender ourselves before God in the indispensable spiritual discipline of prayer. Download Prayer Guide.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Doors?
Open Doors is a two year vision that asks us to grow in faith and obedience, in a variety of ways, as we prepare Ward Church to respond to three large doors of opportunity we believe God has revealed and which require our immediate attention.
What are the specific “doors” or opportunities this vision will address?
Open Doors reflects Ward’s continuing commitment to the mandate expressed in Acts 1:8 which instructs the church to go to “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” We have a role to play in ministering to people across the street and around the world, so the “doors” we are focusing on are India, Detroit and the Western Suburbs. In India, we will partner with an organization to build a school and sponsor every child in it. We’ll also train leaders and help families become financially self-sufficient. In Detroit, we will partner with a ministry organization to renovate homes and transform a strategic neighborhood. We’ll also help plant a new church in the same neighborhood and start a pre-school to increase access to early education. In the Western Suburbs, we will remodel and enhance our campus to make it a more effective tool for serving the community at large, and to meet the needs of our multi-generational congregation. We’ll also train members of the Ward family so they are prepared to share the gospel and engage the world around them.
Why now? Is this really the best time to take on a challenge this size?
We are acting now because God has opened the doors targeted by this vision. And we believe that doors like these, even when they are opened by God, may not remain open forever. Open Doors is ambitious but it’s not blindly ambitious. We have consulted with advisors who have studied the challenges at hand. As a result, our plans are based on wise counsel. More importantly, we have spent several seasons praying and seeking God’s will. During this time, we’ve considered the needs we see close to home and around the world. As a church, we are called to be ready and responsive to the needs of the world around us. The challenges that Open Doors will address are real and they are urgent. We believe that makes this the best time to step out in faith, together, as a church family.
How much is this going to cost?
Approximately $4.132 million. This amount is the goal we have set to be committed to the vision and given over the next two years. Based on current plans, $1,049,000 will be invested in India, $1,008,000 will be invested in Detroit and $2,075,000 will be invested in the Western Suburbs. But please understand, our financial goal is driven by our ministry goal. First and foremost, we want to see God’s kingdom expanded through our faithfulness not only in how we give but in how we live. Open Doors is about our giving and our living.
What is the timeline for Open Doors? What are the key dates?
During Fall 2014, we will conduct a Sunday teaching series that will include a devotional component to help you consider how you will support this vision. Together, we will learn about God’s heart for the world, how we demonstrate faithfulness and the joy of giving in faith to a God-sized project that challenges us to think bigger than ourselves. The teaching series will run for five weeks beginning October 19. On November 16, we will gather for Commitment Sunday where you’ll be asked to make a commitment during a special offering at our worship services. On December 7, we will celebrate as we announce the results. Then, early in 2015, we will begin work on projects funded through Open Doors. The giving period for this vision is two years, so commitments may be completed through the end of 2016.
What happens if we don’t reach our target, or if we actually exceed our goal?
If we fall short of our target, or if we actually exceed our goal, we will honor the target percentages, allocating 25% to India, 25% to Detroit and 50% to the Western Suburbs.
What about debt? Is it possible we might finance any portion of the vision?
As indicated, the congregation will be asked to make a two year commitment to the Open Doors vision on November 16. Written faith commitments have proven to be a reliable predictor of actual giving. Ward’s leadership team is comfortable with short-term construction loans based on congregational commitments. A “bridge loan” like this allows projects to proceed according to natural timelines. For example, exterior construction and paving must happen in the summer months, projects may be scheduled together to save labor costs, etc. If a loan is considered necessary, the fiance committee of the Board of Trustees will negotiate terms and present a motion to the entire Board of Trustees for approval.
Considering the state of the local economy, are we ready for this?
There’s no question the past decade has included some of the most financially challenging years our region has ever seen. Today, most of the area shows continuing signs of economic growth and recovery, while there are still lingering pockets of desperate need. Metropolitan Detroit, like the world, is a study in contrasts. In part, that is why it is so important for us to act now. Conditions in India mean that the church there depends on our support. The same is true of the neighborhood we’ve targeted in Detroit. And the projects intended for our campus in the Western Suburbs are critical either to meet deadlines beyond our control (as in the case of the exterior awning and entrances) or to ensure we are prepared for growth as we engage new families. Ward is located in a relatively affluent community and we are better positioned to pursue a vision like Open Doors than many other churches. This was confirmed by the record Christmas offering Ward received in December 2013. Still, understand that as you commit to this vision, the call is to equal sacrifice not equal gifts. Give freely as you have received. Trust God to handle the rest.
To be honest, I’m more interested in one of the “doors” than I am in the others. Can I give to a specific “door” instead of the initiative as a whole?
No. Open Doors is inspired by the mission of Ward Church. Our church exists to intentionally share faith with people across the street and around the world. We believe a healthy church is a unified church, so we invite you to embrace the Open Doors vision in its entirety in this spirit.
What are “door champions” and what do they do?
We have assigned a team to each of the three doors. Each team is made up of one elder, one trustee, and one staff member. Door champions will be working less on the commitment process itself and more on the execution or implementation of the projects that will follow. These individuals will help us stay accountable, on task and true to purpose. They will help develop timelines and action plans, and they’ll keep the congregation informed as we make progress on our goals. If you have specific interest in, or a question about, a particular door, please discuss it with the door champions for that area of focus to learn more.
Some of the plans make me concerned. What should I do about that?
As the Open Doors vision rolls out during Fall 2014, we will share complete details on our plans for each door and the reasoning we used to determine our priorities. We have always been a church committed to doing what is most effective, and from generation to generation that means the tools for ministry may change even as the heart and guiding principles that inspire Ward’s ministry remain the same. The reality is that Open Doors offers something for every person and generation connected to Ward Church. That means it takes a very wide range of people and interests into account. If you find it hard to embrace Open Doors because a particular project has you concerned, please hear us out. Don’t let your biases get the best of you. Reserve judgement until you have received all of the information first hand. Then, ask questions. Seek to understand the perspectives of other congregants who may see things differently. And most of all, celebrate the important things we hold in common rather than focusing on the trivial things we may see differently.
How can I be sure that resources will be used wisely?
We are not starting from scratch with this vision. We have carefully selected time-tested partners to help us address the opportunities in Detroit and India. It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel or displace existing organizations. Instead, we can make the most of every resource by getting behind groups that already have connections and momentum. On a practical level, gifts made to Open Doors will be handled with the same level of care and integrity that Ward already uses with regard to its finances. Accounting standards are in place to ensure each dollar will be used in accordance with the plans approved by Session.
When will projects funded through Open Doors begin?
Action on projects will begin early in 2015 and continue for the next two years. With regard to campus enhancements, projects will be timed to take advantage of seasonal weather and to minimize disruptions to ongoing ministries.
Why should we improve our campus when it seems pretty good already?
Ward is fortunate to have a relatively modern building with strong bones and adequate space for most programming. The issues with our campus are not with the quality or size of our space but with the fact that it is simply not shaped or configured to best meet our needs today and in the years to come. Throughout Open Doors, you may hear the phrase “activate the campus,” and that’s a great description of what we intend to do. Construction projects related to the Western Suburbs door will transform our building into a place that easily welcomes people with mobility challenges, young families and those who are new to Ward, experiencing worship or an event here for the very first time.
Ok, I think I get it. But give me an example. What does “activating the campus” actually look like?
It can be as simple as transforming an under-used space in our building to give it new life and greater impact. For example, as part of the Western Suburbs door, the existing library space will be renovated so it can serve multiple purposes. Ward will continue to have an area for resource sharing that may include books, periodicals, videos and other types of media. But we want this space to become more usable and appealing so increasing numbers of people will take advantage of it. That means we need to step up our game and create a space that facilitates learning and interaction today, not twenty or thirty years ago. Our plans for this area include a cafe style hospitality space with tables, casual seating and a counter for beverage service. The library is a prime location situated literally at the center of our building. But at present, we are not making the most of it. If we create an environment that is exciting and captivating, we think we can more effectively engage young families so they will feel at home here and be excited to bring friends and neighbors with them.
What is the first step I can take to support Open Doors?
The first step is to begin praying. Seek God’s heart for your involvement in this initiative. Listen to what the Spirit says and then be guided by it. We’ve been intentional in not referring to Open Doors as a fundraising campaign. Your financial giving is an important part but it’s not the core of what’s at stake here. Instead, growing your faith is at the center. And we believe if you start with a spiritual focus, you will be challenged to respond according to God’s heart in all of these matters.
How can I give to Open Doors?
We are asking that you make a commitment to the Open Doors vision and give consistently for this purpose over the next two years. Preferred vehicles for financial giving include cash, securities and estate planning. Of course, gifts to Open Doors may be as unique as the people who make them. If you have a question about the helpfulness of a particular asset you intend to give, please contact Ward’s finance office to discuss the details.
Is that all?
No. Financial giving is only the beginning. It’s important because it will provide the funds needed to fulfill the Open Doors vision. But this vision requires so much more than funds. It requires us to invest our time in a wide range of serving and volunteer roles that will become obvious as plans unfold. And it requires us to grow spiritually so that we will become closer to God and ready to respond as he shows us how to love our friends and neighbors, then gives us opportunities to do so.
What if I’m already giving to Ward Church?
Gifts to Open Doors can be made by anyone at anytime. However, it is Ward’s regular givers that we are actively encouraging to make a commitment in faith. Open Doors challenges us to do something extraordinary – to give over and above our regular tithes and offerings for a period of two years. You will not be pressured or guilt-tripped into participating. We will present all of the details you need to consider how your gift can make an impact for God’s kingdom. Then, the decision will be yours and yours alone. Our theme is equal sacrifice, not equal gifts. We can’t all give the same amount, but we can all sacrifice in the same way. This vision is an important opportunity for our church to grow together as we trust God and give believing he will provide.
What’s in it for me?
As followers of Christ, we never give to God expecting something in return. Instead, we acknowledge that self-sacrifice, risk-taking and putting faith into action all help us grow in our relationship with God. When you give to Open Doors through your time, talent and treasure, expect that lives will be changed forever, including your own.
Who is leading the Open Doors initiative?
The elders and trustees of Ward Church have developed the vision for Open Doors in collaboration with Ward’s staff leadership team. The elders and trustees have authorized Open Doors and ask for your participation.

Do you have a question that isn’t addressed here? Send email to opendoors@wardchurch.org