Every November, we encourage local congregations who participate in Church United to pray, give + serve together in benefit of their communities. LoveSFL is an outward, annual expression of an inward reality. It personifies what unity for the sake of mission is all about. However, it’s also just the beginning. LoveSFL is meant to be catalytic.
Now in our third year, Love South Florida has seen great success. Last year, together we raised $337,000, collected over 100,000 pounds of food and logged over 40,000 volunteer hours! But what if we’re only just getting started?
Owning the pain of South Florida is an essential and inescapable element of the gospel. It was the witness of the Early Church and indeed the Church throughout the last 2000 years. Historically, the Church has flourished during seasons of sacrificial service to “the least of these.”
As Church United we believe that when the Church comes together to serve with love that requires nothing in return, it spreads the aroma and witness of Jesus Christ. In God’s economy, truly self-denying love is an attractive love. As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” By our good works, especially our care for those in need, South Florida sees a picture of the love of God and creates an opportunity for the Spirit to move.
In our own backyard there is no shortage of opportunity to mobilize the Church to be the first responders to the pain and brokenness that surrounds us. Each region, and indeed each Christian must ask, what is broken that needs fixing? Where is there pain so we can mobilize the Church to provide hope and healing?
What are the basics?
Pray – Prayer unites the Church like nothing else, so #LoveSFL begins in prayer for our friends, co-workers, neighbors and city. As we pray, we ask God to reveal tangible needs and opportunities to show his love.
Give – 3lbs of Food + $39/person adds up to something big. Real big. Our participating churches partner with exceptional ministries and non-profits, and when we leverage the giving we can make a big impact.
Serve – Volunteer at least 3 hours of your time to serve alongside a local school, ministry or nonprofit. We seek to make serving easy; that’s why we’ve partnered with Rebuilding Together Broward to host 3 neighborhood revitalization projects in Pompano (11/3), Fort Lauderdale (11/10) and Hollywood (11/17).
One Neighborhood at a Time
One of our key partners in Love South Florida is Rebuilding Together Broward and their Healthy Neighborhood Program, which seeks to restore and preserve safe and healthy homes within a specific low income neighborhood of need. Focusing our efforts in one community, in a block-by-block manner, creates momentum for a neighborhood to be transformed over time.
Community revitalization is much more than beautification. It is a collective effort to identify and strengthen the assets already present in the area. The removal of slum and blight is just one component to building a Healthy Neighborhood.
An Invitation to Pray
We believe Nothing unites and ignites the Church like prayer. As God’s people come together this November for LoveSFL we cannot stress how important the role of prayer is.
Throughout the month we invite you to pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done in South Florida as it is in Heaven. We ask that you join us in praying for your friends, neighbors, co-workers and city. Need help? We’ve put together this short guide to help you along the way.
Prepare your heart to pray throughout the week. Pray: Thy kingdom come. We know that things are not how they should be. Those friendships. That situation. That difficulty. Not to mention the pain and hardship in the lives of others around the world that you just can’t bring yourself to imagine. And because all is not well with the state of the world, we pray: Thy kingdom come.
We pray: “Jesus, please bring change; make things different in our region as only You can.” But before you pray, prepare yourself . . . If you dare to pray this prayer, be ready to be part of the answer to that prayer.
Be prepared not just to look on as an observer, but to take a full part in His mission to see His Kingdom come. Know that you do not pray this alone. During the month of November, thousands of Christians throughout South Florida are praying with you. Together we pray. Together we love South Florida.
Pray for South Florida to be transformed by the gospel. Pray for significant advancement in this season as we set out to impact our city. Pray for other churches in our community to see more fruit. Choose one church to pray for by name. Pray that the gospel would be boldly and unashamedly proclaimed in our local churches, that our churches would be welcoming places for the broken, unwanted and hurting. Pray Matthew 9:37–38 – pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to use His Church to equip and deploy laborers into the harvest of South Florida.
Pray that in this ministry season we would see a mighty harvest of people coming to Christ; that it would be a season of the greatest gospel fruitfulness we have seen yet. Pray that every committed Christ follower in our region would be truly mobilized to invite people into the body of Christ.
Pray these verses: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). “But He said, what is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). “Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). “With him is an arm of flesh but with us is the Lord our God to help us and fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8). “Great is our Lord and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5).
As Christians, we represent Jesus to the watching world. We may be the closest thing to Jesus our non-Christian friends may encounter. Pray for your friends for those who know Christ and those who have yet to know Him. Pray that Romans 8:35–39 would become a reality. Pray for yourself for boldness and for the Holy Spirit to empower you. Pray for your friends by name. Pray that our hope in Christ would motivate a gospel boldness in our lives. Proclaim this truth from Isaiah 60:1–3: “Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Pray and read through Philippians 2:1–5 and reflect on its implications for our neighborhoods. For many of us, the greatest opportunity exists with those we share life with: our neighbors. Whether in a home or an apartment, we are surrounded by people who God has placed in our lives. Pray for your neighbors today. Pray for them by name. If you don’t know their name, trust God and take one small step towards them.
Pray that the Spirit would weed out the sin in your life that has kept you from living a life on mission. Pray that He would open up opportunities for you to be present and intentional with the gospel in your neighborhood. Believe that God loves you more than you could ever dare dream or imagine, and let that reality turn you outward towards your neighbors.
We spend much of our lives with our co-workers. Pray that we’d begin to connect Sunday’s faith with Monday’s work. Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, work a trade, or serve as an executive, pray that God would remind us that our workplace and vocation is our missional calling. Pray Psalm 90:17 – that God would establish the work of our hands as His favor rests upon us.
Ask that God would empower you with the Holy Spirit to serve those in your workplace, rather than seek to be served by them. Ask to be an instrument of grace in your company and industry and believe that your life-giving presence is not excluded even from the darkest places.
Reflect on Jeremiah 29:7: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf.” Pray that the cities in South Florida would be known as places filled with faith, hope and love. Pray Matthew 6:10 over your city. Spend this day replacing the word “earth” with the name of your city (“In Oakland Park as it is in heaven”). Pray that the lostness of our cities would be filled with faith.
Pray for the brokenness of our cities to be filled with hope. Pray for the pain of our cities to be filled with love. Pray that God’s people would become the first responders to the lostness, pain and brokenness our cities experience. Pray for revival — for a gospel tipping point where more and more people experience more and more grace, and that South Florida becomes more and more known as a place where God’s kingdom is being lived out.
Want a downloadable version of the above prayer guide? Want to learn more about Love South Florida and how to join in and get your church involved? Visit ChurchUnited.City/LoveSFL for more information or contact our Church United office at 754-900-2112.
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.
Read more articles by Edwin Copeland at: goodnewsfl.org/author/edwincopeland/