April 1-15, 2019
It is amazing how an idea can connect with something deep in our hearts to excite and motivate us. In many communities, churches have responded to a simple idea called an Apostles Build project to construct houses in partnership with families in need.
In an Apostles Build project, 12 churches, or coalitions of churches, come together to build a Habitat for Humanity house. They raise the money and provide the labor and prayer support to build a house in partnership with a local family. The idea of going out into the community to serve others, in the way that Jesus’ apostles served, has attracted individuals in many churches. With Habitat for Humanity, churches can share God’s love by building houses.
The word disciple comes from the Latin word for pupil or learner. Jesus chose 12 disciples as his closest associates. They traveled with Jesus and learned from him.
In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out the 12 on a mission. He “gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (verse 1). The passage continues by listing the names of the 12 who are then referred to as apostles.
An apostle is someone who is sent on a mission.
Apostles Build Churches
In a Habitat for Humanity Apostles Build project, 12 apostle churches or coalitions of churches are charged with assisting in Habitat’s mission to provide decent shelter in partnership with families in need. They are called out into the community to serve.
Coalition—In terms of a Habitat for Humanity project, a coalition of churches is simply a group of churches that works together to fund and build a house. An Apostles Build project might involve two levels of coalitions:
- When 12 churches work together to share the costs and labor commitment, each church is considered an “apostle church,” and together they form a coalition to sponsor one or more houses.
- Sometimes, one or more of the apostles in a project is made up of more than one church. For example in Greene County, Ohio, one of the apostle partners was comprised of 18 United Methodist churches that worked together under the direction of their own coordinator. They formed a coalition to serve as one of the 12 apostle supporters of the project.
The Benefits of an Apostles Build Project
In a successful partnership, both parties benefit from their common work. An Apostles Build project has the potential to help both the Habitat affiliate and the church partners.
Benefits for Affiliates
An Apostles Build project can be the idea that gets churches excited and convinces them to become housing partners.
Bringing together 12 churches to build a house is not new. Many affiliates have organized builds called “A Circle of 12” that focused on the 12 disciples or the 12 tribes of Israel. Many of these projects were very successful. However, when affiliates began to use the name Apostles Build, many churches responded with tremendous new energy. The image of serving as the apostles served might be the image that attracts specific congregations to become powerful partners in ministry.
Benefits for Churches
The benefits of working with Habitat for Humanity are numerous—especially for the faith community. Building a house gives people a concrete way to put their faith into action. An Apostles Build project calls people to leave the halls of the church and to serve in the way that the original apostles served. Working on this project allows people of faith to be the body of Christ in the world.
Another positive feature of an Apostles Build project is that it has a definite beginning and a definite end. Busy people can schedule the time that they can give to this project, and churches can work the project into their calendars.
Many churches report that when they become Habitat for Humanity partners, they experience revitalization throughout the congregation. Some note that membership grows and that giving increases because people want to be a part of a vibrant church that reaches beyond itself. Churches often report that members get excited about other mission opportunities after working on a Habitat project.
An Apostles Build project also has the potential to build community among churches that have never worked together before. After being a part of this joint project, they may decide to worship together or to cooperate in other ministries. They may learn about opportunities at various churches that may benefit one another’s members.
Volunteers can meet new people and develop friendships with individuals from their own churches. Participants from one mega church, with campuses in two locations in town, told how they got to know members of their own church through a Habitat project.