I was not sure what to expect. It was the first evangelistic effort at the REMIX church plant that I had just started pastoring two months ago. We were counting with 35 committed members, in one of the most seculars cities in the US, Portland Oregon. We started a six weeks called “God’s City. My City.” and something amazing happened. In six weeks our membership grew by a 20%. God took the REMIX church through an incredible journey. From this journey I learned 3 things:
Churches have become complicated living organisms which are divided in programs or ministries each of them with different agendas. Each one of those agendas compete for resources, staffing, finances and time. In the midst of that struggle the mission that Jesus has untrusted us gets lost. Jesus sent his disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matthew 28:18-19)The church’s main goal is to preach the Gospel to the lost. Our main mission is Evangelism. Sure there are many other things that are important and we ought to do but not at the expense of disregarding our main mission. McDonalds has a variety of healthy salads and fruit drinks but at the core of their company they serve burgers. If McDonalds were to focus on the other products they sell and stop making burgers they would stop being McDonalds. In the same way if the church stops being a place where the lost are found we stop being the church and become something else. When we started this six weeks journey we stopped doing all the others great things that we were doing to focus in one. We decided that everything we did during those six weeks would be directly related to reaching the city for Christ. The Sabbath school, the home meetings, the church boards, everything was dedicated to talk, plan, ask, and act upon reaching the people of the city for Christ. A result every member and visitor was engaged in the mission of the church. Yes, even visitors. The ones that assisted to the Sabbath school of the home community meetings shared great insight on how we (the church) could connect with them (the city) in a more effective, relevant way. All the time, the resources, the leaders, were aligned and focused on the mission. This also created a great deal of expectation and momentum. I believe that God shows up when young adults are expecting him. Every sermon preached, every daily devotional read, every lesson taught, every conversation held, every prayer prayed, was focused on reaching the lost. Momentum grew and God showed up! Members started inviting friends with the expectation that God was going to show up and touch their hearts and He did! When the church is focused and aligned it moves forward in the same direction.
2. Prayer + Action = Power
One of the things that made the GCMC series different from others is that it has a strong prayer focus but also a great action focus. When people pray for something and they act upon it strengthens their faith and gives them an opportunity to be used by the Holy Spirit. Each member was reading the same devotional book which included a Bible lesson about reaching the lost and a specific thing that they were going to pray for. For example they would pray for the people that they would invite for the evangelism final event, or they would pray for the worship leaders of the church. But the devotional had an action component to it, an action step that each person would take in order to reach the city for Christ. One day you would be sending an email to friends, another day you would be inviting a family member to a home community. Prayer needs to be accompanied by action. When we act upon what we have already prayed for we are acting under God’s power and His blessing. Can you imaging that? Every member of your church doing something every single day to reach others for Christ! But isn’t that elemental? Isn’t that the lifestyle that we should live? Yes, but its not. After the first week of having the church pray everyday for a specific thing and taking specific steps towards reaching others, the assistance of the 2nd week showed a dramatic increase in visitors and in the spirit of worship and fellowship in the church. Praying and acting is followed by God’s power & blessing!
During the GCMC the entire church was learning about the Jesus way of loving the city, praying for the city, engaging the city, serving the city and transforming the city. We were not only focusing on the Jesus way in our personal devotionals but also in our home communities. We got together once a week at homes and we studied a lesson provided in the series that was centered on Jesus’ way of reaching others. Every Sabbath School got together and studied and discussed Bible verses on how Jesus reached the people of the cities. Also during those six weeks each Sabbath sermon focused on Christ’s way of reaching people. Each sermon was titled, Loving the City, Praying for the City, Engaging the City, Serving the City, Inviting the City, and Transforming the City. We experienced Jesus’ promise, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) We had people that showing up in our church invited by people that we didn’t even know, friends were invited friends, Jesus was drawing people to Himself. We have many great doctrines to share but if we share them in a way that Jesus is an afterthought than we have terribly failed. Young adults have many, many questions but they won’t come to Christ by answering all their questions. So instead of focusing on answering all the questions and curiosities that people may have (many of the very valid questions) people are more convinced by a personal and relevant God than by a clever argument.
It really isn’t something new. It isn’t incredibly innovative. In fact its more like Christianity 101. Focusing on what is important and using resources, finances and time in that direction. Then its praying asking for God’s power and his blessing but NOT being passive about it but active. Actively pursuing the people through personal meaningful relations, the people that we have already prayed about. And keeping Christ at the center of Christianity. Jesus the center of every sermon, lesson taught, home community, everything. Like I said nothing new, or is it? After going through this journey we’ve discovered that this was more than a series that we would do or an event that we would commit to, but this is a church lifestyle that we want to live by. It might be simple but its the Jesus way and it works. God is reaching the city.