Are you a church?
We prefer the term 'neighborhood faith community', or, 'family on mission', but, we live out and experience most everything in the New Testament that people would call 'church' (baptism, communion, worship, prayer, discipleship, serving, The Word, etc). We emphasize missional apprenticeship while living within the context of our community.
Then, how are you different from a traditional church?
God is doing great things through conventional church gatherings in many places. At the same time, he is raising up fresh expressions of New Testament life that are more about living on mission with Jesus everyday, BEING THE CHURCH in the neighborhood and settling where we are already doing life. We fit into this latter expression, with an emphasis on equipping and mobilizing disciple makers.
So, what/who do you actually tell people that you are?
We primarily tell people that we are a residential faith-based missional equipping and mobilizing community, sent to a wonderful neighborhood to proclaim Good New. We also believe that those who travel back and forth to their home countries during the year will become couriers of this Good News to their families back home.
What is the deal about college students and young adults living at the CliffHouse?
Several years ago when we were located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, just across the street from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, home of around 20,000 college students, we made a wonderful discovery. While the emerging generation of young people has been called the 'lost generation' because of their lack of interest in church as they have known it, we discovered that they have a deep desire for spiritual reality and a life of service, they just can not fit it into a compartment many know as 'church'. As we began to stumble onto the reality that these young people thrive on community, service, and even Biblical answers to life's challenges, we purchased a small apartment building across the street from UT Pan Am, let students move in with us, and began a wonderful journey of discovery we called LifeHouse Missional Internship. As young adults began to discover their true identity in Christ, the fact that they were SENT people with Good News to share, His call and purpose on their lives, well, they were spoiled for the ordinary. We often heard young adults share with excitement a statement like, 'I grew up in church, but, I've never experienced Jesus as I have out here on the streets, in the neighborhood, across the street on the university campus...'. So, CliffHouse was built with the purpose in mind to provide a residential apprenticeship environment for young adults to come and share family life, while living on mission with Jesus out in our wonderful multi-cultural neighborhood.
Isn't Oak Cliff a pretty tough area?
Yes, but it's filled with some the most awesome and wonderful kids, young people, and families, many of them simply coming here for a better life. We operate on the belief that every single neighborhood resident, including the drug dealers, prostitutes, and gang bangers, have value, purpose, and a Godly destiny. CliffHouse Residential Interns have pretty much already decided they would rather risk their comfort following Jesus into the neighborhood than be caught 'comfortable, but not following' Him. Plus they sort of get addicted to encountering Jesus in the 'thin places'.
So, what's a 'thin place'?
Some of the CliffHouse family has been impacted by a concept written about in the book 'Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community', Huckins/Yackley. The idea is that there are times, places, and experiences where the distance between heaven and earth feels extremely 'thin', where encounters seem even miraculous at times, when you walk away saying 'wow, what just happened?'. We have these encounters fairly often as we do life out in the neighborhood, loving on and caring for those God loves and misses. A pastor friend of ours was asked if he believed miracles still happen. His reply was, 'Yes, miracles absolutely still happen, you just have to go where they are happening'. We fully believe we have these encounters because, when we engage our neighborhood, we can't help but run into Jesus, hanging out where He spends most of His time, doing what He most often does loving on people who are waiting for some Good News.
What do you see the future of CliffHouse being?
Our desire is that the N Lancaster Ave CliffHouse becomes a replicable model for multiplying 'families on mission' in neighborhoods everywhere. The CliffHouse model can be a blessing in any neighborhood, community, or nation. Our passion is to help equip young adults to think strategically and missionally about where they will live, work, and do life, with a heart toward being 'that' home and family that brings light, life, hope, and Good News to their neighborhood.
When you use the word 'missional', what does that mean to CliffHouse?
Missional means to embrace a 'sent' life of endeavoring to be on mission with Jesus everyday, everywhere, discovering where Jesus is at work in our neighborhood and joining Him. Living a missional life involves a change in conventional thinking from being 'church centric' to living Kingdom centric. Missional isn't as much about preaching and leaving as it is about listening, loving, and staying following Jesus into the neighborhood and staying there, embracing the everyday rhythms of neighborhood life with Gospel intentionality.
What are some of the ways, events, and efforts that CliffHouse employs to bless the neighborhood?
CliffHouse engages the community through:After-school tutoring, Mentoring, KidzKlubs, Youth Group, CliffHouse Community en Espanol Sunday evening gathering, CliffHouse Community Neighborhood Association, Community Gardens, Job and College Prep, Summer Reading and Feeding Program, Food Distribution, Residential Internships, Sports Camps and more.