There are times when you are listening and what you are hearing just grabs your attention. It might be the topic that is being addressed, or the words of the speaker really resonate with you, to maybe the delivery of the communicator. For the most part I am a pretty good listener. Over the years I have heard and taken notes on literally hundreds of speakers.
It was one of those mornings when what the speaker was saying just captured my attention.
The place was Open Door Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The speaker, Dave Johnson, the lead pastor. He is a man that I have learned to really love and appreciate. He is a gifted communicator who has a unique style and insightful look at passages of scripture that I know and have even preached myself. But this day, Dave’s message was about the capital “C” Church and the lower case “c” church really grabbed my attention.
For years my heart has been wrapped around the capital “C” church, even though I have been a part of many different lower case “c” churches. I have been blessed to have seen, heard, and experienced a lot in both of those environments.
I have been around the Christian world a longtime.
- You see, my dad, a Senior Statesman is 85 years and before my mom’s passing, they served together in ministry for over 60 years. As a pastor, he worked with other pastors in his community. Now he is older but my dad’s goal has always been to finish well. Well into his eighty’s he was still active in state leadership of seniors, served as the Chaplin at a care center, and was even asked to preach in churches, and participate in funerals.
- I am 62 years old and have been a “PK” preachers kid my entire life. Yes, I was raised in a denomination, but have worked with many denominations and independent churches throughout my almost 4 decades in ministry. My involvement in the “C” Church has allowed me to serve as a leader in many Kingdom events and initiatives over the years in the different cities I have served in.
Why, am I prone to ask the “What if” question?
I guess it was because of all that I had experienced in the youth ministry world. Youth pastors in churches are brought on staff to develop programs and disciple (train, equip, and empower) the next generation. That calling lead me, in cities where I served as a youth pastor, to an even bigger “Kingdom” vision of the Church in youth ministry in those communities. A network of youth workers with a common vision, strategy, and taking action to reach the youth in our communities, together.
The word “Synergy” is defined as the whole is greater than a sum total of all the parts. What if we could create “synergy” in youth ministry in the community. After all we were all part of the Kingdom.
So, I began to reached outside of my denominational “box” to engage with other youth workers in my community. Back in the day, we called that “networking”. Why the drive to network and get outside of the “box”?
Because, early in my ministry to youth, God stamped my life with the “Kingdom DNA”. It was like this. One day I was talking to God about the youth ministry God had called me to lead. That morning He impressed on my heart the this profound concept to me, “If you will build my Kingdom, I will build your ministry (youth group).”
That day changed everything in my thinking about my calling. It made me look at my calling differently. I no longer was thinking about being the youth pastor to the kids in our church or those involved in our youth ministry. No, I thought of myself as the “youth pastor” to the youth of my city. But I could not do that alone, so I set out to challenge others to join me, to network together to impact more students in our schools and youth in our city.
Again, Why? Because Satan’s youth group in our city was bigger and all of the “c” churches combined. So, “What if” this “C” Church ministry to youth in our city could happen? What would it even look like?
It was all about the youth in our community. So as I approached other youth workers about focusing on the things that united us and not the things that divided us. It was not about everybody doing the exact same thing, but it was about everyone being on the same team. It wasn’t about the name on the back of the jersey, it was about the name on the front of the jersey. It really was about the “synergy” around the simple yet life-changing message of knowing God in a real and personal way and to bringing Hope to a generation.
That was the passion that drove my mission when I first started in full-time ministry and it is the passion and mission that still drives me today, 38 years later. I want to see people come to faith, learn to to own, live, and share their faith, so will continue to be a Christ follower for a life time.
This is what I discovered. If we, despite our difference (denominations, backgrounds, doctrines, and dogmas) could rallied around four concepts in our communities, we the “C” Church, our collective voice and actions could impact schools in our communities. If we could have a vision:
- Big enough to capture a city – 750 Churches partnering for Pulse Twin Cities, May 18, 2018
- Simple enough it could be grasped – Reaching people for Christ!
- De-centralized enough that it could be owned – Common vision to reach youth in every community at every school.
- Relational enough that it could actually work – Local Youth Worker Networks
We have a BHAG” (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a vision for our city. It is a Ephesians 3:20 goal. Realizing that with God’s power working in us, we could believe God to do exceedingly, abundantly, immeasurably more than we can ask, think, dream, plan, or even imagine. So let’s dream big!
The mission is simply to bring the Church together around the mission to reach young people with the simple, yet life-changing message of the Gospel, the Good News, and Hope for their generation. With the mission in mind, I believed that young youth leaders can and come together in their communities to reach youth for Christ.
So “What if” it could really happen?
- What could happen with a common vision, a strategy, and a group of committed leaders collectively take action in every city?
- What if the Church unified to impact our schools?
- What if students, equipped by their leaders, where to go to America’s Greatest Mission Field with a purpose to reach a friend for Christ?
- What would be the result in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities and cities
If we as individuals in “c” churches part of the “C” Church were to live out Jesus’ prayer in John 17…”That all of them may be one (Church), Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that so that the world may believe that you sent me.” This is the power of a “C” Church – so the world we believe.
There is no question, we “c” churches desire to see transformation in our lives of people in our communities. That is evident, because I hear it all the time we want to have community, so we need to get out of our rows, into circles.
But what if the “C” Church, with great unity, synergy, and all of its resources really desired to see transformation in our community?
Church let’s not just imagine the ‘What if”, let’s do it.
Twin Cities and beyond, we have a tremendous opportunity to be the Church. Together we can go way beyond “What if?”
We have 180 high schools to impact. We have youth workers, teachers, coaches, parents, grand parents, and concerned adults to support (pray for, pour into, and provide resources). There are 1000’s of students who have been or are going to camps, conferences, or on missions trips, who come back and desire live out and share their faith with their friends, school, and world. All they need is support from people like you and me.
Church! Let’s do this!