If you’ve attended Church in Broward County in the last month, you’ve likely heard about Love South Florida — a month-long outreach dedicated to seeing churches unite for the sake of mission in our region. Whether it was filling local food pantries, serving single mothers, partnering with local schools, raising money, prison ministry or disaster relief, churches from varying traditions and denominations linked arms to demonstrate the love of Jesus in tangible ways during the month of November. For Juan Gallo, pastor of Holy CityChurch in Hollywood, “Love South Florida was a natural response to the larger expression of unity manifesting through Church United. Churches who only months before didn’t know much of the church down the street, were able to link arms together and serve alongside each other.”
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Love South Florida was an outward expression of an inward reality — the common bond, mission and calling of Christians to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth — in South Florida — in Broward County, as it is in heaven. When Christians work towards seeing their surroundings become more beautiful, just and merciful places, they are not only working towards the flourishing of the region, but expressing the realities of the coming Kingdom of God.
As Community Christian Church delivered over 1700 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to those experiencing homelessness and more than 20 churches partnered with Cross International to pack 100,000 meals for families in crisis, they demonstrated that there will be no more hunger in God’s coming Kingdom. Working alongside each other, Rio Vista Community Church partnered with First Baptist Fort Lauderdale and CityChurch Fort Lauderdale to raise money towards a “Church United College Scholarship” for an under-privileged student at Fort Lauderdale High. They showcased that in God’s economy, the last shall be first. As Iglesia Comunidad, a non-denominational Hispanic church partnered with their Brethren in Christ brothers down the street to do prison ministry outreach, they personified the healing and hope that only the Gospel can bring. As Crossway Church partnered with five other churches to purchase new computers for the 3rd graders at Flamingo Elementary School, they demonstrated that the Church is a designated “first responder” to community needs.
There are dozens more examples of how churches partnered together to #LoveSFL, but here’s the point: the blueprint of the Church is changing in our community.
Unity for the sake of mission
I have had the privilege of working alongside pastors, leaders and churches in South Florida over the last several years. I’ve seen churches work together to provide crisis housing for single mothers and children share meals with the homeless. I’ve seen churches work together to care for modern day orphans and widows. I’ve seen churches provide loving community and lasting friendship towards the least, the lost and the marginalized in our community. I’ve seen churches ask their neighbors, their surrounding schools and their cities questions no one else was asking and provide innovation and answers. I’ve seen churches run towards brokenness and bring beauty. However, most importantly, I’ve seen what can happen when God’s people set aside their denominational and ecclesial differences and live in light of their new identities as citizens of a new Kingdom. Powerful solutions to complex problems emerge. Unimaginable resources are discovered and Christ’s Kingdom advances.
Unity for unity’s sake won’t change the spiritual, cultural and social temperature of our community. However, unity of the sake of Kingdom mission can. As the Church continues to be divinely rearranged, fresh opportunities to own the lostness, pain and brokenness of our region are emerging. Love South Florida was a small example of what can happen as God’s people collaborate with one another. We believe we’re just getting started. What if this expression of unity continued? What if we, God’s people, said that we’d work together to raise the number of evangelical Christians in our community? What if we said we wanted to see broken families renewed and lives resorted? What if we wanted to stem the divorce rate and invest in marriages? What if we wanted to invest in transforming local schools and education? Imagine. Imagine what South Florida could look like…
What if Love South Florida was only the beginning?
Church United is encouraging pastors to connect with one another regularly in smaller groups regionally. If you are a pastor and want to be a part of the Church United effort in Broward County, visit www.churchunited.city. Pastors in Palm Beach County are collaborating as well, visit www.churchunitedfl.com to get involved there.
Edwin Copeland helps lead RENEW South Florida, a church planting and leadership development organization committed to seeing a gospel moment take root in our tri-county area. He can be reached at [email protected]