When Coal Stops Burning

“If we want to be the church — to speak into poverty, to speak into broken homes, and to speak into drug addiction — I think we have to address the economy.”

Travis Lowe believes that a local church can impact the economy of its community. Lowe, who joined the Made to Flourish network in 2016, pastors Crossroads Church in a small community in the hills of southern West Virginia. Bluefield once served as a coal mining town. Today it faces severe economic depression and a host of issues that come with it. Lowe believes the local church should address issues like poverty, the local economy, and the workforce because each of these areas connect to our faith. Before Lowe began pastoring, he worked in business and began meeting with small business owners who feared closure of their second and third generation, family-owned businesses. During these meetings he began to feel led by God to gather a network of business owners to meet monthly, share a meal, pray for the peace and prosperity of the city, network with each other, and hear a business related message.


Over the past two years, the group has grown to include more than 75 business owners, and is beginning to make significant contributions to the city. They have seen almost all of the entities grow their businesses, watched six figure deals close during the networking time, and have helped start new businesses. The city government began to recognize the importance of these meetings, and even offered to produce a commercial of the gathering, build a website, and searchable directory of businesses involved.

All of this started because one pastor in one local church felt gripped by the bigger story of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it can transform lives, and therefore transform all spheres of life, from the home to the economy and beyond.

“[I began to see] a description of the gospel that entailed all of life — our work, our sense of meaning and purpose, of waking up and going to work,” he said. “It ignited something inside of me… we’ve put the theology behind something we believe God was calling us to do.”

Topics: City Engagement, Community, Leadership Development, Poverty

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