Evangelical Association focuses on engaging worshipers
After 26 years of selling title insurance for real estate transactions, Anthony Carollo and his wife Debbie decided to downsize their home and living expenses to focus on ministry.
|Anthony Carollo leads ministry to engage church-goers.|
In 2014, they sold their large home in Valleyford and moved into a house in Millwood half the size with half the mortgage.
In May 2014, he began as executive director of the Greater Spokane Association of Evangelicals, after serving for one year on its board.
Anthony spent most of his career in Spokane—except for four years from 2000 to 2004 in Corvallis—and founded Stewart Title of Spokane LLC.
At Calvary Chapel in Spokane since 1990 and North Country Chapel in Post Falls since 2008, he was involved in children’s ministry.
“Eventually, I felt God was calling me to lead the GSAE,” he said.
When interim director David Nerren stepped down, Anthony was hired. He said the board held a strategy session and decided the GSAE would help Christian churches “disciple believers,” because people in pews often do not step outside their church’s walls.
The GSAE will to that in four ways: school outreach, men’s ministries, leadership development and church engagement.
• It is helping churches do outreach in schools by mentoring children through Communities in Schools or helping feed children on weekends through Second Harvest’s Bite-to-Go program,” he said.
• It is helping churches develop or enhance their men’s ministries, so more men are involved in their churches and communities.
• A GSAE team is designing a Biblical Leadership Development program, modeled on Leadership Spokane. It will launch in 2016.
• The GSAE will also help churches cooperate with each other to “engage” people who are “unchurched,” Anthony said. That includes many people who identify themselves as Christians, but do not go to church, he said.
Recently a marketing consultant told him that a national George Barna Research Group poll found that eight percent of Christians are engaged in ministry and 92 percent just attend worship and go home.
Anthony believes more people can become interested in moving from pews to serve in ministry. He plans to use social media, emails and websites, as well as traditional means.
“We are about connecting Evangelicals and the whole Body of Christ in Spokane,” he said.
Two experiences motivated Anthony and his wife Debbie to change their lives.
After Jay Erickson, an intern with Stewart Title Insurance, completed the mission pilot program at Moody Bible Institute, he and his wife sold all they had so he could serve one-year as a pilot with a hospital in Zambia. Both were killed three years ago in an airplane crash, leaving two daughters.
“He was ninth in his family line to die while serving in mission in Africa,” Anthony said.
Then in the summer of 2013, a year after Jay’s death, a woman employee at Stewart tripped on a top step and fell down the stairs. Waiting for the ambulance, Anthony prayed over her. However, she died.
Realizing life is short and with three of their four children grown and out of the house, he and Debbie listed their house for sale.
“God was calling us to pare down and sell our stuff,” he said. “So we prepared our family and finances for ministry that would not pay as well.”
After Anthony started with the GSAE working from an office in their home, Debbie began to work as an office administrator at Moody Radio.
He already sees God at work, sending volunteers to help in the four areas.
For example, he was heartened by participation in the May 7 National Day of Prayer Leadership Prayer Breakfast and an Evening Worship Event that day, Unite Spokane. The event drew 700 to Life Center, representing the diversity of the Body of Christ in Spokane—African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.
Among churches on the GSAE board are Mount Spokane Church, Fellowship Church and Lidgerwood Presbyterian, represented by pastors; and Open Bible, Valley Real Life, Northview Church, Real Life North, and Victory Faith Fellowship, represented by members.
People of other churches support financially and as volunteers.
Anthony described the GSAE’s work to connect people in churches with Communities in Schools’ Prime Time Mentoring, which already provides the application process, background checks and training, so churches don’t need to start a program.
“I have a heart to help children, the next generation,” he said. “Children need help today, because many parents are busy. There are children on every block who need help.”
Because he disliked school as a child, Anthony identifies with children who need mentoring. He lacked continuity, having attended 12 schools in 12 years. He married at 19 and entered the title insurance business.
Last fall, he began mentoring a fifth grade boy. At that time, there were 120 mentors. By spring, there were 217. Of 24 now in training, 22 are from churches.
“It’s a way to get believers out of the pews and engaged in a meaningful way to change children’s lives,” he said. “We can reflect Christ’s love to children.
“If homeless and poor grade schoolers have mentors, it improves their chances of graduating, finding a job or going to college,” Anthony said.
Mentors come to school at lunch or recess to play checkers or just converse. They do not tutor or promote their religion.
“Children need a positive adult. Mentored children’s attendance improves 75 percent. Investing in children can change their lives and Spokane’s future,” Anthony said, encouraging churches to engage with neighborhood schools.
Related to the need to build men’s ministries, Anthony said Prime Time Mentoring needs more men, because a higher percentage of those who need mentors are boys, yet a much higher percentage of those who volunteer to mentor are women.
The GSAE recently trained about 80 men at three different events.
Copyright © October 2015 - The Fig Tree