Newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan | March 2023 | Volume 67, Number 3
REACHING THE NONE GENERATION
Jason Robinson - Reach Church
YPSILANTI, MI – Surveys and numerous reports about the State of the Church in America seem to give a bleak condition of the growth of the church. Researchers have termed this generation that carries no religious affiliation, the “none generation”, the younger generation of Millennials are among those said to be leaving the American Church in droves.
Statistics tell one story, but in early 2013 when God began to put Reach Church on the heart of Jason Robinson, there was another story that was louder to him. The words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37 still rang true, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” So despite what skeptics had to say, he believed that God still needed workers in his vineyard. This was the confidence that God gave to start a church in the Ypsilanti area that would attract new believers and the unchurched within that community.
Pastor Jason Robinson
(Courtesy Reach Church)
In the fall of 2011, Robinson and his family moved to the area from Kalamazoo, MI because of a job transfer. While working in higher education, he came in contact with many residents from Ypsilanti who had a negative opinion about the church. For one reason or another, they had given up on church. This broke his heart. While serving as Associate Pastor at Canton Christian Fellowship Church, Robinson began to strategize with Pastor David Washington Jr. about Reach Church. There was a lot about the new church which was still unclear including the target audience. All they knew for sure was that they wanted to start a simple, but effective church to reach the unchurched.
So with that, Robinson and his wife, Ebony, without a team started a community bible study with the backing of Canton Christian Fellowship. Eventually, they launched Reach Church in the fall of 2014. Since then God has done some miraculous things. The one area that is obviously unique when you walk through the doors of Reach on a Sunday morning is how many young adults are present and actively involved in the church. The church never set out to reach specifically young adults. They reached a few, and they began to bring their friends. Robinson says, “We have seen that Millennials are not against church, but they need a place where they can be authentic and talk about real issues.”
One of those millennials was Aaron Dewberry. Dewberry is a Computer Technology Major at Eastern Michigan University. “Reach was attractive to me because of its simplicity, everything we do at Reach is easily understood by anyone even if you have never been to church,” said Dewberry. “Pastor J focuses on applying the Word of God, so it is easy to know how to actually do the Word not just learn about the Word,” Dewberry adds. Upon coming to Reach, Dewberry admitted battling depression, and credits finding Reach as to why he is still in school. He has returned the investment made into him, by running the media and video department for the church.
God has also allowed the church to become home to many residents raised in Ypsilanti. Centered on the south side neighborhood of Ypsilanti, God has also drawn young people such as DeAndre Mitchell. Mitchell was saved and baptized at Reach in the spring of 2015 after being brought to church by his cousin. Before Reach, DeAndre admits his life was going in the wrong direction. “Reach Church has a focus on people, not money or fame, I was able to relate to what was going on,” said DeAndre. “Reach was doing great things in the community but wasn’t trying to show – off, they just did it,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell has stated that during his time at Reach he has learned to totally depend on God for everything. “When times get hard, it would have been easy to go back to the streets to make fast money, but this church has kept me walking in the right path,” said Mitchell.
Robinson said, “Even though we give God glory for the start of Reach Church. We want to stay focused on becoming a church plant that plants churches.” He adds, “God has allowed Ebony and I to be co – laborers with him in this work, but I know we have only been able to accomplish this by having a great team of volunteers. The church may have started with just Ebony and I, but our volunteer staff gets the credit for making Reach an effective ministry. We have selfless volunteers who give it their all each and every week.”
Robinson credits the Michigan Baptist family and supporting churches. He said, “Without churches faithfully giving to the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Reach could not be effective in accomplishing our vision to be a church, “Where the Lost are Found, the Found are Equipped, and the Equipped are Sent.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Robinson is Lead Pastor of Reach Church in Ypsilanti, MI. He has served in many ministry roles prior to planting Reach, but has a special passion for training and developing other church leaders. He is married to Ebony, and they have 4 chilren; Naima (7), Tahirah (5), Solomon (4) and Sanaa (2).