There is a movement afoot in South Florida that is bringing churches together in the spirit of unity. It’s based in the heart of 1 Corinthians 13. “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. … God has put each part just where he wants it…. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad” (NLT)
It is not about promoting individual ministries or events, but rather about working together as in the body where the pieces have to connect, to support and hold one another up. It’s about pastors developing friendships with one another to talk about what’s happening in the churches and homes, and about pooling the efforts of individual churches together to create a common flow to reach the lost of our community.
It’s called Church United. And it is on the grassroots level in Broward County, with Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale hosting the first gathering in August attended by 150 people and a second gathering hosted at Riverside Church in October. However, they are modeling their efforts after a Church United effort that has been meeting for a while in Palm Beach County hosted by Christ Fellowship, Journey Church and First Baptist Palm Beach.
A simple vision
Their model is simple. Together the churches…
• pick a common initiative to collaborate on each year,
• pray and fast as a church on the first Wednesday of every month,
• build one new relationship every month with another pastor to talk about what they can do together, and
• attend a quarterly Church United gathering.
Bringing people together
According to Doug Sauder, senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, “That’s a commitment, four times a year to meet, pray, talk and collaborate.” While all pastors are busy, Sauder likened it to “a tithe of their time to their city” when they can meet with other pastors to make that happen.
The recent initiative with Evangelist Nick Vujicic, president of Life Without Limits, at Florida Atlantic University stadium in Boca Raton last month is just one example of what the church community can accomplish when they work together. Because of churches working together through prayer and invitations through their local churches and communities, close to 20,000 people gathered at FAU to hear Vujicic share his inspirational testimony and present the Gospel, which resulted in many souls being saved.
According to Brian Brookins, senior pastor at Riverside Church, little groups of pastors have been meeting “spontaneously on a small level… guys just encouraging one another and then those groups started to connect with one another, so it seemed like the right time to call everyone together.”
The goal is to sustain it over the long haul to build relationship and support one another as God gives grace,” said Brookins, who hosted the second Broward Church United gathering in October at Riverside Church in North Lauderdale. “My role is small, but I’m very excited. I think it’s the Lord and it’s a huge thing spiritually for the county.” As a grass roots effort, Brookins said, “No one really feels they own it. We’re just trying to facilitate what we see the Lord doing.”
The next Church United get together will be held on January28th at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. For information, please contact [email protected]