It’s been said that great movements of God are fueled when gospel patrons and gospel proclaimers collaboratively work together to further the Kingdom of God in a region. South Florida has a long history of catalytic churches and movements that were fueled by faithful men and women of God awakening to advancing the gospel in their day.
Kingdom collaboration is in our DNA
At the invitation of those who had been fervently praying for revival, in the early ’80s Billy Graham filled Lockhart Stadium with a message of hope and freedom in Christ. As a result, people were saved, evangelistic tools were developed, churches were planted and South Florida continued to shift from a sleepy beach town to an influential gateway city.
Twenty years later, the sons and daughters of these pastors and patrons who brought Billy Graham to South Florida continued to pray for revival and collaborated together on Beach Fest where hundreds of thousands gathered as evangelist Louis Palau shared the gospel of Jesus. Uncommon generosity was unleashed, organizations to care for those who were hurting and broken were formed, and God’s people continued to be awakened to lostness, pain and brokenness around them.
The legacy continues
Fast forward another 20 years, the children and grandchildren of these men and women believe that NOW is the time to collaborate together and unify around one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities of our time. And here’s the thing; God has been busy preparing his Bride.
With a vision to bring faith, hope, and love to South Florida and a mission to unify and inspire leaders to connect, collaborate and celebrate together for mission, Church United’s work to see South Florida become known as a place of faith, hope and love is beyond a single church, key leader or organization. We believe the unity of the church is the strongest apologetic and strategy we can use to see our unbelieving friends, neighbors, and co-workers experience the Kingdom of God and stem the tide of those leaving faith over the coming years.
By all accounts, the next 30 years will present the largest domestic missions opportunity in the history of our region. An opportunity that only the unity of the Church can realize — an opportunity centered around this unprecedented evangelistic moment and unifying agenda.
The last 24 months have sent our friends, neighbors and co-workers searching Google, YouTube and social media looking for answers to some of life’s biggest questions and pain points. The reality is that people all around South Florida are asking questions – BIG questions – questions that local churches and the gospel they preach can answer. Things like, “why is my marriage falling apart,” “what happens when you die,” “why did the Coronavirus happen” or “why am I so anxious, depressed, and sad?” Put simply, instead of turning to churches and discovering the gospel, people are searching online. We believe that we can change that.
Flipping the script
Beginning with a pilot called “Church Connect” in mid-2020, which later got re-branded to Churches Care, Church United and their technology partner Gloo, launched Churches Care as a first-of-its-kind digital, social media outreach to connect South Florida people to South Florida churches. Via world-class social media ads, Church Connect digitally targeted, engaged and connected those who were spiritually curious to local Christ-following churches demonstrating that local churches cared and stood ready to digitally respond to real, relatable life events and topics. Not only did the pilot work, but the response also shocked us. In just one week, 540,228 South Floridians viewed the social media ads and 10,700 of those people clicked to learn more. Similarly, 1.7 million people saw the alternative Google AdWords search and 8,700 of those searching clicked to learn more. Let those numbers sink in for a moment. We used to spend millions to reach thousands. Now we are spending thousands to reach millions – and it’s working. God is most definitely on the move.
Building on the learnings and success of the pilot that ran through late last year, last month Church United along with its partners Gloo and the National Christian Foundation of South Florida partnered with other patron families across the nation to launch the He Gets Us campaign. With the driving principle being, “what if the Church — God’s people — could be right there to answer the questions people are asking the moment and place they are asking them.” The He Gets Us campaign is designed to provide the right message, at the right time, to the right person, and connect them to a local Christian, ministry or church that stands ready to respond. And it’s working — in fact we have more people wanting to connect to local churches and talk to a local Christian than we have churches. Every day, we are onboarding new churches; however, the need continues. There are worse problems to have however we are calling on all gospel-believing Churches in the region to join in this historic, evangelistic effort.
The bottom line
At this moment in time, we are privileged to have the tools and resources needed to understand the state of Christianity in our community and respond misionally. If the current spiritual reality of the region holds, there will be a large and lasting portion of South Floridians who will not know Christ. We believe that together, we can change that. No doubt the task ahead is difficult and uncharted. It means change and sacrifice, and at times it will be tiring and unfamiliar. We will need, in many cases, new wineskins like Gloo Connect, Churches Care, He Gets Us and future digital/technological efforts. We are charting a new course in previously uncharted terrain and need one another to successfully navigate and take this new ground together.
To see our vision realized will mean working together in ways and places that embrace our evangelistic history of setting aside preference, comfort, ego and logo for the sake of God’s Kingdom in the region. We must recognize the significance of this moment and work collectively to embrace this unprecedented evangelistic opportunity — together. Godspeed. Let’s do this.
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/