Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, will host the next Church United meeting for Broward County pastors on Thursday, January 28th at 8:30 in the morning.
When churches unite across cities and counties, cities change. Jesus promises us that when we unite, the world will know that He loves them (John 17:23), and that is the goal of the rapidly growing movement, Church United.
The movement, which began in Palm Beach County with three churches, including Christ Fellowship, Family Church, and Grace Fellowship, has extended to Broward County churches as of last year. The pastors involved have a plan to foster friendship, pool their efforts, and narrow their focus to shed a powerful laser beam of God’s light into the cities by addressing one specific social cause each year, such as foster programs, homelessness and other social issues.
When churches come together it breathes this aroma of faith in the community. People get curious about the Gospel. ~Pastor Doug Sauder
Doug Sauder, Lead Pastor of Calvary Chapel, said, “We’re straying away from doing an individual charity and Palm Beach is doing the same thing. They’re picking an initiative. This year they’re picking the foster care initiative. There are three or four different charities that work with foster care in Palm Beach, so they’re going to work with all of them. It’s not one charity, but it’s one cause.”
The hope is for this to be a tri-county commitment among Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties, that helps our communities without generating more burden for churches. Those involved in Church United hope to commit one or two weeks of the year and focus all of their outreach in the community at one time, under one banner. Pastor Doug said, “Churches do so many things in isolation. The world wants to know what the church is doing, and we don’t have much to say because we’re so isolated. If we told our story together it’s a much more powerful story.”
It’s not about building castles. It’s about building the Kingdom.
A meeting is scheduled next week to finalize the decision to work with 200 to 300 Christian foster homes. If final approval is reached, they will begin work recruiting 150 families in Palm Beach to take in foster children and 150 families in Broward. Leaders in Dade County have also expressed an interest and may join the initiative as well.
Referencing Psalm 133:1, Pastor Doug said, “When God commands a blessings, it’s an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:23, that the church would be one. When churches come together it breathes this aroma of faith in the community. People get curious about the Gospel. When they see churches work together it creates an intrigue, a curiosity, something that’s attractive. It’s helping each other and joining arms together. It might make them curious enough to show up at one of our churches one day.”
Pastor Todd Mullins, of Christ Fellowship Church, spoke with Pastor Doug Sauder to form a plan of action, during which they committed to start doing three things together.
The first one is prayer. The churches of Broward and Palm Beach County can begin asking their congregations to pray and fast the first Wednesday of every month for three specific things.
I’ve been in this community for fifteen years and I’ve never really reached out to the pastor down the street. Well I did this week, and we had lunch together, and now we’re going to do an outreach together. ~Pastor Doug Sauder, Calvary Chapel
- Salvation to the lost in our communities
- Unity of the church
- The cause designated for the year
Fasting can be done in the individual style each person is comfortable with, but the point is that we are all doing it on the same day.
Other Christian networks, such as the National Christian Foundation, are also encouraging people and their businesses to set aside the first Wednesday of every month to pray and fast.
Pastors who rarely, if ever, have an opportunity to meet with other pastors will be able to sit down together and share their thoughts and ideas. “I’ve been in this community for fifteen years and I’ve never really reached out to the pastor down the street. Well, I did this week, and we had lunch together. Now we’re going to do an outreach together,” said Pastor Doug. “So we share stories of pastors who have actually taken steps to do these things together. The last time we had a pastor share that he and three pastors rented a hall and pulled all of their youth groups together to do a united youth event. We have two churches that are merging together this weekend, and we’re going to have both pastors share their testimonies of how they decided to work together.”
The Christian unity for which our Lord prayed is becoming a reality, and with it comes a ray of hope to South Florida. It is Pastor Doug’s belief, as it is with many, that the time is ripe for churches to begin working together. The hope of pastors involved in Church United is to be a church for the city that’s bigger than any one church congregation.
“It’s not about building castles. It’s about building the Kingdom,” said Pastor Doug.
The program for this month’s Church United at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church will begin at 8:30 in the morning, with a light snack. Pastors will be able to spend some time at their tables talking and praying, followed by hearing from speakers who will share their testimonies of how they are working together with other pastors in their cities.