From a nondescript warehouse in an obscure neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, a movement unlike any the church has ever seen before is stirring. If you look closely, you’ll discover that this movement is unique because it is bubbling up among one of the least likely segments of society: moms.
If you have been longing to energize your church’s heart for evangelism, while simultaneously ministering to one of the most influential — but unseen — people groups, let us introduce you to MOPS International. MOPS is a global ministry operating in 41 countries, spreading the message of Jesus like wildfire in a sun-scorched forest.
Here’s what MOPS does differently:
- MOPS changes the rules about behavior.
Often, there is an unspoken narrative around how people join the church: We expect people to show up and behave like we do, believe what we believe, then become a Member and belong like we do. MOPS is changing this paradigm. MOPS believes that people should feel a sense of belonging first — being welcomed without any caveats or expectations. Once individuals spend time with us, they can encounter Jesus in a way that inspires them to believe what we do. Only then can we begin to have conversations about how we live out our faith and how that faith influences our behavior. Illustrating the love of Jesus means letting people know they belong with us, before they believe and behave like we do.
- MOPS focuses on moms.
There are 2 billion moms in the world, and 4.3 babies are born every second. When a woman becomes a mom, she becomes the fiercest and most powerful creature in the world. Moms mobilize families and bring them to church, they negotiate peace treaties on a daily basis, they nourish bodies and souls and raises the next generation of the world. The best way to see God’s kingdom in the world is to see it come to the heart of a mom raising the world. When moms are better-equipped, their children grow up more emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.
Moms spread messages far and wide because they rely on each other for recommendations and advice. MOPS has developed a proven model of ministry that utilizes the common language of motherhood to present the unchanging message of Jesus. As a movement that transcends skin color or socioeconomic needs, MOPS provides a space where women are reminded that they are not alone, that motherhood is significant and that Jesus calls them beloved. There is no question: Better moms make a better world.
- MOPS Members are stakeholders in their cities.
In over 40 years, MOPS has discovered that the best way to minister to a city is to be involved in the city. Too often we expect people to come to church when what they really need is for us to go to them. MOPS partners with churches to host groups in their places of worship, but also meets moms where they are already seeking safety and encouragement: YMCAs, public schools, community centers, hospitals and correctional facilities. MOPS encourages its partner churches to pray about where God is calling them to show up and to boldly welcome women to a transformative experience by joining a MOPS group. When women flourish, everyone does: husbands, children and entire cities.
- MOPS Members write letters and call a truce.
If you have spent five minutes on social media, you will have certainly seen Christians described as:
“Hall monitors policing the world’s behavior…”
“Cyber-bullies who sacrifice each other just like their God…”
“More concerned with complaining than really trying to make a difference in the world …”
In many ways, the cultural narrative about how Christians behave has to do with how we behave online: We bicker and drag one another through the mud for having different political or theological ideas, and then we wonder why Christians are not viewed as a group of people armed with good news to offer a hurting world.
- MOPS creates culture rather than responds to it.
Last year, MOPS sparked a letter-writing movement that inspired 100,000 women to write an encouraging letter and then leave it in a public place so a stranger, who needed that message, could find it. The stories of people receiving encouragement at the perfect moment are astounding and speak to the fact that the Holy Spirit moves through our actions to bring the good news of Jesus into people’s lives at just the right time. MOPS believes that the best way to welcome new people into your church is to model the truth that Christians can walk hand-in-hand, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye.
This year, MOPS is launching a movement of events where MOPS groups show up in different ways to remind weary people that a good God loves them. It might be offering a warm cup of coffee to moms dropping off their kids at day care, bringing doughnuts to the train station during the morning rush hour, reminding women at a strip club that God sees them and calls them worthy while dropping off cookies, or inviting strangers to a community dinner. MOPS is inviting itself into the fabric of society and redefining how the world interprets what it means to follow Jesus by how well we love our real-life neighbors, instead of how well we defend God online.
For more information on starting a MOPS group in your church or within your city, and to receive a special offer, check out mops.org/start-a-group, call 888-910-MOPS or email on-staff Pastor Jamie Mertens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mandy Arioto, President and CEO of MOPS International, is a mom of three who continually wonders when she became old enough to raise other human beings. Mandy’s new book, “Starry Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood,” was released on August 30, 2016. Order it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or the MOPS Store online. And check out mandyarioto.com.