ERIC MASON - ROOTED IN THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE
By Jessi Strong
When Dr. Eric Mason first felt the call to plant churches nearly 14 years ago, he envisioned himself as a kind of itinerant preacher. “I wanted to model my work after the Apostle Paul’s by planting a church, spending two or three years getting it up and running, and then moving on to plant another.”
After the pastor, author, and board member for the Acts 29 church-planting network landed in inner-city Philadelphia, he changed his mind about that model. “I found that with inner-city ministry, you have to be in it for the long haul because these are extremely relational communities. When you’re actively involved in an inner-city neighborhood, you develop a ‘trust capital’ that provides a pipeline for ministry. Building that trust takes time. People aren’t going to connect with a brand.” Planning and Praying Six years passed between the time Mason received his call to plant churches and the day the doors to Epiphany Fellowship opened.
During that time, Mason worked with several pastors who trained and mentored him. “Dr. Tony Evans and the elders at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship helped me develop an understanding of urban ministry and how to engage in church-based, kingdom-driven ministry. I gained a lot of experience in youth ministry, inner-city, outer-city, and prison ministry, as well as city-wide evangelism. When we moved from Dallas to Houston, I served as a pastor for Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and for two years, Dr. D. Z. Cofield mentored me. I preached multiple services, conducted funerals, led a prison worship program, and began to understand what it really meant to pastor people.”
Mason’s training didn’t prepare him for everything, but it did set him on the right path. Today he has advice for would-be church planters: “The greater the cultural shock, the longer it’s going to take you to adjust and begin to minister in that new context. If you have the opportunity, train in a compatible area so you don’t have to deal with a learning curve that’s off the charts.”
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