- My Local
- My Reach
- My Self
Dennis Sutherby serves in Shiawassee county, a rural area of Michigan. The heart of the county is the Owosso area with a population of 20,000 people, while the rest of the county is comprised of smaller cities and villages. Most residents hold blue-collar jobs, and many are shop workers from the surrounding factories. While the area is very “churched”, it has seen a period of spiritual lethargy for several years.
One of the greatest needs in the area is building up a true, intimate community, where people love and invest in each other. A re-evaluation of the methods of evangelism and discipleship used by the local church is also needed, along with a re-training and re-focusing on reaching the unreached in the community. Much of the need in the area can be met through deeply Christ-centered counseling and discipleship as well as competent Biblical literacy training.
After seeing the need in his community for re-evaluation of discipleship methods, Dennis began a ministry geared toward “doing church” differently. “The New Testament believers were on to something as they lived life together, fellowshipped together, worshipped together, and deeply studied the Word together,” Dennis explains.
This vision for an early-church style of worship has been implemented through house churches. These “ministry houses” provide a place where single men can live in community, share life together, and see discipleship happen organically. The goal for this ministry is to see a house church movement, as the focus shifts from institutional-mindedness to incarnational living in a community.
Because Dennis’ ministry focuses on community development, relationships are built and strengthened before “church” is introduced. “Rather than simply inviting people to church, which can lead to shallow relationships or rejections, we invite people into our very lives. As relationships are built, people are introduced to the Savior as well.”
Another crucial element to the ministry in Shiawassee County is the desire to see the local churches become equipped to minister effectively in their churches. There is an increasing vision for unity among local churches to come together and work with each other, rather than competing, to fulfill the Great Commission. This includes discipleship happening across church denominations, but there is also an increasing desire to see a training center developed where local churches can send their people to be counseled and trained in biblical literacy and ministry development.
Dennis has served as InFaith field staff since May 2017.
After graduating from New Tribes Bible Institute in 2007 with an AA in Biblical Studies, Dennis went on to finish his BA in Religion and Ministry from Luther Rice Seminary in 2014. Most recently Dennis has received his MA in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice as well. He has been teaching the Bible at his local church for ten years and leading a home church at his Ministry House for five years.
Since 2010, God has allowed Dennis to disciple and invest in eight different young men’s lives, several of whom are now leading ministries of their own. Dennis plans to incorporate his counseling training as well as his teaching skills to develop low-cost, Christ-centered counseling for area Christians as well as helping to start a training center to increase Biblical literacy among local Christians.