What is The Philip Center? (Part I)
Q: I hear about The Philip Center but I don't really know what it does? Can you explain?
The Philip Center is a non-profit ministry that Tim Zulker founded in 2003. The staff now consists of Tim and Cindy Zulker and Rich and Susan Fulton. Interns for The Philip Center come and go on a part-time basis.
The Philip Center exists to help churches keep evangelism on the front burner of their church life -- to make gospel outreach an active part of what they do. Think of it this way: The three basic ministries of a church are like three balloons:
- ministry toward God -- which is worship.
- ministry toward one another -- helping each other grow spiritually.
- ministry toward the world -- which is evangelism.
These are the three core purposes of any true church. At Godspeed Fellowship we say it this way: everyone worships, everyone grows, and everyone serves the mission.
If these three ministries are like three balloons, the first two -- worship and edification -- are like Mylar balloons. They stay easily inflated. The third balloon is like the old latex balloons. Blow them up with helium one day and the next, they're on the floor. They leak easily.
It's the same with evangelism in a local church. If you go into a church on any Sunday, you’re sure to find worship in the form of music. And there will certainly be many opportunities for Christians to grow -- Sunday School classes and the sermon for starters.
But ask about active evangelism and the church leaders will probably say, "We could use some help there." That's because the third balloon deflates easily. If evangelism doesn't happen for a few months, or even years, the church will seem to function just fine. The pews will be full, the singing will be just fine. But in reality, the church is only two-thirds of it's real self. And when a church loses it's mission -- to make disciples of Jesus -- it will lose its health. And eventually, if a church loses its vitality as a witness to the resurrected Christ, Christ will "snuff out" the candle of that church (Revelation 2:5). It will cease to be a true church in God's eyes.
So The Philip Center exists to help churches keep the evangelism balloon inflated. We want to see churches remain, or become, healthy. We want to see the gospel declared in ways that are fruitful and realistic and honoring to Christ. And most of all, we want to see the glory of Christ amplified through the work of evangelism, out of local churches.
Q: But what do you actually do? What kinds of activities are there at The Philip Center?
Our mission is to help churches keep evangelism on the front burner. To do that, we have five strategies:
- Free ideas and resources - Church leaders need to be inspired and renewed for the work of evangelism. So we offer biblically-based, gospel-centered ideas about evangelism on our web site, and through the sites of other ministries, like GoThereFor.com.
- Conferences and preaching - We host conferences, speak at conferences, lead seminars and preach at churches. We do this in order to renew a passion for evangelism out of the Word of God. We typically host or speak at two or three conferences each year. And we’ll preach at another three or four churches during the year as well.
- Consulting - We meet with church leaders to help them grow in fruitful evangelism. We are currently working with four churches and one para-church ministry.
- Equipping new leaders - Through internships and through Summer OFF we equip youth and young adults for a lifetime of evangelistic outreach. Our goal here is to see young people become lifetime witnessers for Jesus. And we’d also like for some of these young people to become evangelism leaders in their local church. Stephen Mook was an intern with The Philip Center all last year.
- Church planting - This is the most significant and effective means of evangelism there is. So we promote and support gospel-centered church plants, especially in the Providence, RI, area. We are actively helping Derek Bass in his church plant. We're also seeking to identify a church planter for a new plant in Dexter Park, Providence. And we're working with 20Schemes, a church-planting ministry in Scotland, (in order to learn from them, and also to help in their work of planting more churches).
Q: What is the relationship of The Philip Center to Godspeed?
The Philip Center began two years before Godspeed Fellowship was planted. Some of the things we do at The Philip Center are largely unrelated to church. For example, last year we worked with Peninsula Bible Church in California, to help them grow in evangelism. That had no relationship to Godspeed.
Other activities overlap. Last year we hosted The Trellis and Vine Workshop with Tony Payne. That drew leaders from Maine, Maryland and many places in between. But it also benefitted Godspeed in that several of our people attended. It particularly helped our elders prepare for an annual planning retreat.
Still other activities overlap even more, like Summer OFF. That's a joint initiative that is largely staffed by Godspeed people, with a vision shaped by our church, but it also now includes ten other churches in RI and MA who are serviced by The Philip Center. And now we are multiplying Summer OFF in Germany -- and even that will be a joint effort between Godspeed and The Philip Center. It's a huge blessing for Godspeed to keep expanding our eyes to see kingdom work in the city, and now in Western Europe. That kind of vision and expanding outreach reflects the trajectory of the book of Acts and God's expansive gospel work in the world. It's good for the church.
To put it another way, some of the things we do at Godspeed - like Summer Off - get passed on to other churches for their benefit. And things we learn from other churches feed back into Godspeed, for our benefit. We think it's a healthy, symbiotic relationship.
(Click here for "What is The Philip Center - Part II")