I wish I could say that I took it in stride. But the honest truth is, I was shocked. I was sitting at lunch across from a young couple. They were both sharp professionals. They had asked me to officiate their wedding, and the purpose of the lunch was to find out where they were at spiritually. Over the course of the conversation, I said something like, “…that is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important.” I continued, but they interrupted. The groom-to-be said, “Wait, what did you just say?” I said, “You know, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day…” They just looked at each other and then looked back at me with bewilderment. I asked them slowly, “You are aware that the Bible makes the claim that Jesus came back to life after he was crucified, right?” They shook their heads. They told me they had never heard that before in their lives.
But that is not what shocked me. What I’m still trying to get my head around is that both said they had actively attended churches at various points in their lives. Furthermore, if you asked either of them they would have told you that they were “Christians.” Here were two people, friendly towards church and aligning themselves to Jesus, but who had absolutely no idea what the Gospel actually declared.
The mission field
I believe this couple personifies the mission field of South Florida. This is our context. These are our people – and they are in many of our church’s pews.
According to recent studies done on our region by the Barna Group, 78 percent of South Floridians self-identify as Christian. However, only 3-4 percent of South Florida is committed to the core tenants of the Gospel. 1 As the churches of South Florida, we will not rest until the narrative is changed regarding the lostness of our community. We believe God is moving in our region. A movement of the gospel begins with a movement of God’s people — the Church. South Florida is ripe for revival. We believe we are in the midst of a historic moment. This fall we prayerfully take our next step.
A tipping point
In November of this year, dozens of churches all over South Florida are going to be participating in a region-wide sermon series called Unsinkable. This four-part series will teach through key historic truths of our faith. As Church United, we want to invite every single church in the region to join us on this mission to disciple those in our pews. Why is this critical for fostering a tipping point of faith in our region?
We believe that if our city is going to be transformed by the power of the gospel, it will be by releasing the most powerful army in history, the body of Christ. It was believers empowered by the Spirit of God and armed with the Good News that God used to turn the world upside-down. It is this mobilized force that can revitalize every sector of this city that we love.
But before this can happen, we must awaken this sleeping giant. Those who align to the Savior, must personally know and experience His salvation. Paul said, the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation…” If God’s people are going to be released into the city, the fullness of the Gospel must first be released in their lives. And once that happens, just imagine what could be.
In the middle of the nineteenth century an observer of a revival in Wales noted, “I thank God I have lived to see the year 1859… God in His grace has done more within the past two weeks in this part of the country than had been accomplished for an age previously.” 2
Lord Jesus, we want that same joy. We want to see you surge through our city. Here we are. Send us.
For more information on how you or your church can be a part of this series, go to: https://churchunitedfl.com/unsinkable.
Robey Barnes is the lead pastor at West Pines Community Church and a member of the Church United leadership team.
1 Barna Group, “City Report 2017-2018, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL,” Page 19-20.
2 Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge, A God Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010, pg. 100.