2022 feels different. It feels important. There’s an expectancy in the air — a sense that God has been preparing us (the local Church in South Florida) for this moment — to lean in, to seek him, to come together united on a mission that’s fueled by prayer, repentance and dependency on God to do what only He can do: move.
Throughout the journey of Church United over the last six years we have been praying and trusting God to do a work in South Florida that was of such magnitude we’d have to look back and say only God did it. Looking back, we can trace God’s faithfulness and begin to see the groundwork of a new story in the life of the Church in South Florida emerge. We’re maturing as a movement. We’ve seen relational trust, equity and collaboration deepen over the test and strain of time without losing missional focus. We went through 2020/2021 finding strength in our weaknesses and humility through our repentance. We discovered new rhythms, new learnings and found a fresh vision for church life and leadership. All of that has birthed an expectancy and furthered a dependency on prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, leadership, churches and relationships together.
There are two battles in the book of Joshua that are recapped with some detail. The first is the famous battle of Jericho. God miraculously moved almost inexplicably through nothing more than their shouts and trumpet blasts of faith. It taught God’s people that He is a miracle worker and they are utterly dependent on Him. The other battle is the second battle against Ai. This is strikingly different than Jericho. There was nothing bizarre or overtly supernatural. But it was a brilliant battle strategy. Both battle plans, that of Jericho and Ai, came from God. He’s a God of spontaneity where He shows off His power in our weakness. But He is also a God of order and planning. At Church United, we refuse to pick between the two. And we don’t believe those are in tension. We’ve seen and lived Jericho moments over the last 6 years, and we’ve also planned for Ai — prayerfully giving everything we’ve got to unite together to reach South Florida.
We’ve successfully launched the largest digital evangelistic campaign in the history of our region — an effort that’s only getting stronger with each new church that joins and every explorer who connects with a local Christian. We’re deepening our work with educators, minority leaders and ethnic churches. We’re continuing to focus on soul care and creating safe third spaces for pastors and ministry leaders to connect and find refreshment. We’re preparing to host the State of the Hispanic Church for Latino leaders in South Florida in partnership with Gloo and Barna. However, prayer may just be at the center of what God has for us — his Bride — his people here in South Florida as we prepare for 2022.
Andrew Murray famously said the sin of prayerlessness is a deep rebuke to God and the root cause of a deficient spiritual life and an ineffective Church. If you trace the history of Christian awakenings or revivals, you will find that revivals are not simply period of unusual responses to the gospel, but unusual efforts at godly living by Christians as more people to respond to the gospel message. You’ll also find that revivals are not manufactured, envisioned or sparked by charisma. No. They’re the result of repentance and fueled by prayer. I love the words of 18th century pastor and missionary Dr. A.T. Pierson when he said, “there has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that didn’t begin in united prayer.” Prayer is the fuel of revival as prayer leads us towards greater intimacy with God and fellow Christians.
Towards that end we began this year with a 21-day emphasis on prayer with an initiative called, PrayFirst. We spent the first seven days simply coming to Jesus in whatever place we found ourselves in and letting him speak. We came with our burdens, our failures, unbelief, and weariness and expectant vision and found reminders of God’s unfailing love and care towards us. We then took the next seven days asking Him to fill us with his spirit and/or to identify the things in us that hinder the filling of his spirit. Finally, we spent the last seven days asking him to show us how he wants to deploy us in 2022 to grow and further his Kingdom in South Florida. However, I believe that this 21-day emphasis was only the beginning.
2022 Kickoff Gathering
If you’re a local pastor or ministry leader I’m personally inviting you to join us Friday, March 11th from 7-8:30 at Rio Vista Community Church. As we come out of our Pray First initiative, we want to create a time and space that feels different and set apart to pray, worship and seek the Lord together as God’s people. This won’t be a big vision casting night — we will unpack more of what I’ve begun to share above for sure, but the focus of the evening is seeking the heart and face of God together on behalf of the work he’s began in this region. With that, allow me a personal plea here: make time for this. If you serve on a church staff, are a local pastor, lay leader or ministry leader, attend if you can. I can think of no better way to kick off Church United this year and look forward to what God has in store for us.
RSVP and learn more at churchunitedfl.com.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Director of Church United with the National Christian Foundation of South Florida where he works to unify the Church through collaboration and celebration to see faith, hope, and love spread throughout South Florida. To learn more about Church United, visit churchunited.city
Read more articles by Edwin Copeland at: goodnewsfl.org/author/edwincopeland/