You don’t want to miss this year’s Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast to hear the stories and vision of the Kingdom advancing and collaboration happening throughout our community. Mark your calendars for Friday, April 28th from 7:30-9:30 as we gather around the theme of together.
Join innovators such as Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, Brad Formsma, founder of I Like Giving, and Immaculée Ilibagiza a Rwandan American author and speaker who survived the Rwandan Genocide, along with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, as they share how together we are forming uncommon partnerships, unleashing uncommon generosity, and becoming uncommon people who are creating uncommon stories of faith, hope, and love across South Florida.
Proverbs and Partnerships
There is an old African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” The idea of “together” has been a popular one as of late. From campaign slogans to fundraising, we are constantly being sold this idea of “togetherness.” Putting all political implications aside, the notion of being “stronger together” is an inherently Christian understanding.
In 1st Corinthians 12:27 the Apostle Paul described the people of God as a body: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” One body. Many parts. Every part of the Body of Christ is created to serve God, demonstrate his glory, and work towards the renewal of all things. Just like the human body, some parts work behind the scenes while other parts are more obvious and pronounced. However, when parts stop functioning in harmony together, the whole body suffers. God’s people truly are stronger together. They are divinely designed in the image of a communal God for and hardwired for communal expression.
Over the past year and a half the conversation surrounding Church United has been driven by the understanding that we cannot express the Kingdom of God as one church, one organization or one key leader. Though the body of Christ finds multiple expressions in various denominations, traditions and heritages, the Church — the body of Christ — is best expressed together.
This year the at the 55th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast we hope to highlight just that. As God’s people continue to come together in unity, uncommon partnerships are made, uncommon generosity is found, and uncommon people are mobilized.
In the wise words of Rev. Tod Bolsinger author of Canoeing the Mountains, “The world in front of you is nothing like the world behind you.” We are living in culture that is post-Christian and post-Church. Does that mean that we should all pack-up our bags and close our doors because we’ve lost? No. Not at all. Perhaps we’ve “lost” the “culture war” because it was never meant to be understood as a war in the first place. One of the greatest casualties of this perception of Christian mission (to win the “culture war”) was the division and fragmentation of the body of Christ. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of one very important truth: the Church is the hope of the world.
If we truly believe that the Church is indeed the hope of the world then we must link arms together and form uncommon partnerships for the sake of mission. We no longer have the luxury to assume that our church, denomination, association or tradition can work alone. We must innovate, reframe our problem, and rediscover that our role in what we called a “culture war” wasn’t in the infantry but rather medics on the field. And for Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, it all starts with love — loving your neighbor as yourself. If you start with love, a former opponent can one day become your friend, and in some cases, even an ally.
Uncommon partnerships are rooted in uncommon generosity. When we start with love, we look at our time, our talents and our treasure differently. What was once held with clenched fists becomes open, available for use in seeking the peace and prosperity of our communities. Generosity goes beyond writing a check or serving a meal at a soup kitchen; it’s an invitation to view the world differently. In South Florida I firmly believe that resources are not the chief concern of mobilizing the body of Christ. However, money follows vision and as Christians I often think our vision is too small. If the Church is the hope of the world, then our vision must get bigger.
For Brad Formsma, authot of I like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life, it all starts when awareness leads to action. In Brad’s world, the smallest acts of generosity can have a lasting effect on both the giver and the receiver.
What if Broward County could be known as a community of Uncommon Generosity? Imagine the impact. Imagine what would begin to happen if Christians from across our community began to run towards the pain, brokenness and lostness around them. Imagine if the body of Christ were known as “first responders” to the needs that surround us.
If we’re honest, most of us go to Church with people who look like us, think like us, talk like us and generally agree with our view of the world. Don’t like someone else’s opinion on social media? Unfriend them. Disagree with your neighbor because their yard sign doesn’t display the name of the candidate you like? Avoid interaction with them and quickly scoot into your garage. Someone in your community group share an opinion you strongly disagree with? Time to find a new group. Pastor doesn’t “feed you” the way you’d like to be fed? Time to find a new church. You get the point. But here’s the hard reality: it’s not about you. If we take Paul’s “body of Christ” metaphor seriously it means that we don’t get to choose the fingers on the hand or the toes on the feet. We each have a role to play — even those we disagree with and struggle to understand — and even those who have hurt us.
The pain, the hurt and the anger we experience are all painful reminders that we are no longer living in a garden. There are hostilities between us. Our work is hard. We experience death, loss and pain. We live in a world that we were not ultimately created to experience. But our hope is not in vain. Jesus changes everything.
Immaculée Ilibagiza, the third keynote speaker for this year’s gathering, will share her story of escaping the Rwandan genocide, and coming face-to-face with the man who killed her mother and one of her brothers. After enduring months of physical, mental and spiritual suffering, Immaculée was still able to offer the unthinkable, telling the man, “I forgive you.”
Immaculée is an uncommon person with an uncommon story. And while I’m sure you’ll find her story inspiring, it’s rooted in the uncommon love and uncommon generosity she experienced within the body of Christ. Her story beautifully demonstrates how the hands, feet, mouth, eyes and ears of Christ can come together to change lives, shapes stories and transform communities.
An Uncommon Story
The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is much more than a breakfast; it’s a small glimpse into the story of our community. We believe that God is just getting started in our region.
Directly following the breakfast you are invited to join us for Church Untied and City Talks as they come together this year. Join alongside business leaders, civic leaders and church leaders as we explore existing collaboration and discuss new ideas for coming together.
We believe South Florida is a strategic region for Kingdom advancement and that our region will one day shape the world. However, we can’t do anything alone. We need each other, we need to do this together; we need you. Join us.
To reserve your seat or learn more about this year’s Mayor’s Prayer breakfast or the Church United gathering afterwards, please visit FTLpray.org or call 954-771-0110.
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/