We are witnessing the largest and fastest numerical shift in religious affiliation in the history of our communities. Pew, Barna and independent research all agree that even in the most optimistic scenarios, Christian affiliation in the U.S. will shrink dramatically — with South Florida amoung those vastly outpacing other major metro areas. For example, over 1 million youth at least nominally in the Church today will choose to leave each year for the next three decades. Thirty-five million youth raised in families that today call themselves Christians will say they are not by 2050.
The good news? God is uniting the Church for the sake of this very mission here in South Florida. A great opportunity awaits.
After witnessing increased brokenness in the life of the Church, key leaders of gospel-believing churches began to come together to connect and seek great unity. Through prayer and fellowship, God began to give these leaders a burden to collaborate together to spread faith, hope and love throughout South Florida. Eventually this burden for collaboration became known as Church United. As God continued to convict pastors and churches in the region to repent of disunity and unite in carrying out His work together, the need to celebrate what God was doing through His Church began to find expression.
At its core, Church United is a movement uniting and mobilizing churches, church networks and other organizations to see faith, hope and love spread throughout South Florida. Driven by Ephesians 1:23 and believing that a moment of the gospel begins with a movement of the church, a vision to double the number of committed Christ followers in our region was born.
Through collective evangelistic efforts, planting new churches, raising up leaders, engaging education and mobilizing those within our pews to connect Sunday’s faith to Monday’s work, we believe that we can see the number of committed Christ followers in our region increase from 3% to 6% and lay the stepping stones towards a tipping point.
How does this practically express itself?
Persistent Leadership: Everything rises and falls on relationship and leadership. We believe the same principle applies to city movements. Church United is committed to the long term — we’ve taken a 30 year vision. Movements take years to develop and slowly achieve critical mass. According to our research, persistent leadership is a key ingredient to seeing a gospel movement take root. We must shepherd the vision, chronicle the story of where we’ve come from and where we are going, and never lose sight of the fact that unity in the body is hard, but essential.
A Regional Platform: Church United is committed to igniting the Church to turn untapped Kingdom capacity into active capacity by linking like-minded leaders together and creating a supportive infrastructure — a back office that connects churches, church networks, para-church and key nonprofits together to share information and best practices, protect the vision, tell the story and offer best-in-class tools, training and resources that propel the vision forward.
Forums: Pastors, along with key leaders, ministry partners and marketplace leaders, meet regularly to shape and sharpen key engagement areas.
Catalytic Gatherings: We celebrate what the Church does together. In these events, we keep the vision central, promote prayer, worship, share stories, and expose key opportunities and training that elevate the presence of Christ throughout our city. These gatherings provide an opportunity for pastors and leaders to experience the Church as it was meant to be: multiple denominations, generations, races and ethnicities coming together in the name of Jesus.
At the end of the day we believe the Church is the means by which God has chosen to reflect His Kingdom on earth. The Church world is to be a demonstration community: a different way of living; its relationships, thoughts, actions and economies would all reflect God’s Kingdom and will in our cities as it is in heaven.
Without Christ’s continued leading and the power of the Holy Spirit, our labors will all be in vain. We do, however, believe that risky, intentional, visionary leadership and collaborative action will be essential to transforming South Florida for Christ. The road ahead is hard. It will take supernatural grace – both for this movement and for one another, as we will no doubt offend one another on more than one occasion. Rising to this moment will be costly beyond finance. We will need each other — to challenge one another to build new habits, experience fresh grace, give generously of our time and resources, and trust God for a new way of thinking, belonging and experiencing the cost and benefit of unity for the sake of mission.
We are just getting started. Join us. Visit churchunited.city for more information.
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.