Charles Dudley is a risk-taker for Christ.
Just a few months after learning about The Mission Cincinnati from some friends, and after only a single visit, Charles said YES to what he discerned was God’s call to leave his home, family, and community in Roanoke, VA for the first time, and move to Cincinnati to be a part of what God was doing at this fledgling inner-city church plant.
I sat down with Charles this week to ask him again, “What made you want to move to Cincinnati?” He responded: “I felt God challenging me leave my comfort zone. There was a comfortability at home. Everything there was familiar. But when I prayed about it, there was nothing holding me back. I started thinking, “What would it look like to take this risk, make this leap of faith and just trust God?”
Charles had been a part of a large Anglican Church in Roanoke, VA, that was rooted in a more mono-cultural, suburban context. He loved this congregation’s Christ-centeredness and depth of attention to the Scriptures, but he realized there was something intriguing about the idea of an Anglican church plant in the inner-city that was intentionally trying to be a multi-ethnic expression of the Body of Christ. Reflecting on what drew him to The Mission Cincinnati, Charles said, “It was cool to see this whole church taking a risk: y’all could have been anywhere in the city, but you chose Evanston because you felt God leading you there and you wanted to be in a place where different cultures and races interacted. I loved that you followed God there. That takes humility and obedience.”
After a year of raising financial support to cover the majority of his salary (the church compensates him about a third of his monthly paycheck), Charles moved to Cincinnati to join our staff as a Missional Resident, a formational role requiring a 3-year commitment in which Charles receives professional and spiritual mentorship and coaching in an inner-city church plant context even as he serves and leads in ministry. During his time, here Charles is serving as our church’s Director of Community Outreach where he has taken the lead on building new relationships with community members and putting together creative, fun, and life-giving events to reach out to our wider neighborhood with the love of Christ. Each week Charles tutors third graders at Evanston Academy, a local elementary school, he is involved in serving with InterVarsity at the University of Cincinnati and Coalition for Christian Outreach at Xavier University. He has led a neighborhood prayer walk, taken two groups of students and community members to Christian hip-hop concerts, played a major role in leading our first ever Vacation Bible School, and joined the conversation at Mosaix Cincy, a gathering of pastors and leaders in multi-ethnic ministry contexts. Charles also serves as part of our church’s Preaching Team where he is learning the process of Inductive Bible Study and moving from text to congregational message.
Reflecting on the biggest things he’s learned in his first few months on the job, Charles said, “I’ve realized how much ground work goes into planting a church. Churches don’t just pop up, they take real work, everything from relationship building to setting up chairs. That’s humbling. It also gives me a new perspective being in a start up organization. There aren’t as many clear lines regarding what processes need to happen when. To some extent everyone is learning, even as I’m learning. That’s fun but also challenging.”
When Charles dreams about the future of our church as well as the church in North America, he says, “We need more people taking paths that are uncharted in ministry. We also need more people in leadership that are diverse. When it comes to Mission Cincinnati specifically, I just want us to hold on to our focus on Jesus. To grow as a healthy church that’s founded on God’s Word. I want to keep seeing people come to Christ!”
Investing in the formation of leaders like Charles is one of the ministries your gifts to The Mission Cincinnati will support on #givingTuesday. We’re excited to continue to grow as a church that identifies, resources, raises up and sends young leaders into Kingdom ministry in our neighborhood, our city, and our world. Know anyone like Charles who would be excited about a formational ministry experience in an inner-city church plant? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get the conversation going!