Dewayne Rembert is a man with a lot on his plate, ministry wise. Ask him what he’s got going on, and you’ll quickly see he’s stretched in a lot of directions.
But for him, it’s always felt simple — go where people are, love them, feed them and take Jesus to them. That’s been the vision of Flatline Church at Chisholm where he serves as pastor, and Flatline Movement, the ministry he started years ago to reach urban youth through Christian hip-hop.
But Rembert said that simple vision has gotten more precise recently.
“God is shifting our main focus,” he said.
Most of the people in the community surrounding Flatline Church are age 40 and up, Rembert noted. For several years he and other church leaders have walked the neighborhoods, getting to know people, offering food and other assistance and inviting them to be part of the church.
“We’re doing what we can there, but we see where God has given us so much favor with the schools. We feel like He’s saying, ‘I need that to be the main place you guys focus on,’” Rembert related. “Since the summer, God has shifted us to middle school and high school ministry because they trust us.”
For years Rembert went into local high schools, building relationships with administrators and coaches. He became one of the main people they would call when they needed help, and he assembled volunteers from his and other local churches to provide pre-game meals for athletes and school staff.
Now leaders at Flatline are seeing that investment blossom.
“The Lord has been leading us to get this generation, and in two or three years we believe we’ll be able to see a big turnaround here in Montgomery,” Rembert said. “The students who are the leaders of the school are getting saved, and some are on fire too, really taking their walk with the Lord seriously.”
That effort is now called Flatline Youth Initiative, led by Erick Armster and Mercedes “Murk” Wheeler.
Rembert said Armster is working with students from nine high schools, getting to know them and leading Bible studies several days a week.
Armster knows how to share the gospel effectively in an urban context, Rembert said.
“Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to get to the Bible because they believe the Bible is the white man’s God, that Jesus is white. In most cases, we have to tear that down before we can ever give them the gospel.”
Armster, who served for 17 years with Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Montgomery area before moving to Flatline Youth Initiative eight months ago, said the Lord is “showing us favor” in the outreach to the students.
“Trying to get them Christ in their culture is what the team at Flatline’s heart has been burdened for,” Armster said.
Part of that effort is the Christian hip-hop music Flatline Movement is performing at events and producing in a studio at Flatline Church.
“That’s where we feel like God is leading us, to reach out a lot through the music, through the arts — teaching kids so they feel like, ‘Hey, I’m represented here,’” Armster explained. “We’re bringing the gospel into the urban setting.”
The effectiveness of that strategy was highlighted at two camps this summer at the beach in Florida, one each for male and female high school athletes. Twelve schools were represented, and as the students were introduced to the gospel through Christian hip-hop and Bible studies, 67 professed new faith in Jesus.
Flatline continues to dream up new plans, like the Flatline Music Initiative, which will be led by Deandre Burns, Flatline Movement’s general manager. The initiative will teach students how to write and produce their own hip-hop that has positive or faith-centered lyrics — with hopes to one day have enough music to flood the airwaves with its own radio station.
Rembert said he’s grateful for the church partners that have come alongside to help fund the efforts and the churches that have graciously provided resources and volunteers to keep the pre-game meals going at local high schools.
“We depend on the church so much to help us. We’re urban missionaries,” Rembert asserted. “We’ve got the laborers, the ideas and lost souls all around us.”
For more information visit flatlinechurch.org.
Hear more on the Stories podcast
Want to hear more of the Flatline Movement story? Check out Season 4, Episode 2 of TAB Media’s Stories podcast, available now. The serial-style podcast tells the story of Dewayne Rembert and Flatline Church in Season 2, continuing in Season 4. Listen at tabonline.org/stories or wherever you get podcasts.
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