Setting your community free
Jesus said He would build His Church and for 2,000 years He has been doing just that.
The worldwide Church took until 1900 to reach 2.5% of the world population. Then, in just 70 years it doubled to reach 5%. In the next 30 years – between 1970 and 2000 – it more than doubled again to reach 11.2% of the world population (source: The Lausanne Statistical Taskforce).
- About a million people a week are becoming Christians.
- There are probably more Christians alive right now than have ever lived and died throughout the whole of history.
- The Church is the most dynamic organisation the world has ever seen.
- It has never stopped growing and is growing faster today than ever before.
BUT…. if you live in Western Europe, you may be shaking your head in disbelief because the church here has been in decline here in recent decades.
That is a historical anomaly. Do we simply have to accept it? No!
Two key elements
Without in any way claiming that what follows is a complete answer, we can see two critical parts of the jigsaw that tend to be missing from our strategies for outreach and growth:
Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed specifically for us, for those who would come after the original disciples. He could have chosen any number of things to pray, but He chose to focus on one single thing:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
It seems that our unity is a vital factor in letting the world know about Jesus. Jesus said that it was because of our love for each other that people would know that we are His disciples. Psalm 133 says that where there is unity God commands a blessing. Something happens spiritually.
It’s difficult to imagine anything more important in terms of reaching the world for Christ than our unity. And we don’t mean a form of unity through clenched teeth, but genuine heart-to-heart relationship.
See the Setting Your Church Free section for a brief explanation of how we can give the enemy footholds through corporate sin. If nothing else, our disunity will have done just that.
Imagine a scenario in which the leaders of the one Church in your area came together in genuine unity and repented of corporate sin. Would that make a difference? Absolutely!
Taking it forwards in your area
Freedom In Christ is keen to work with groups of leaders to encourage unity and facilitate corporate repentance.
There is no set way we do this. We can simply be a catalyst either to help leaders see the benefit of working together and offering practical advice on how that might work or in facilitating a day of corporate repentance using a process we have developed for that purpose.
If you are part of a group of leaders in your area or if you want to set one up, we'd encourage you to get in touch with us for a chat.
A case study
In Reading, Berkshire, a large group of leaders from across the Church have been meeting together to pray every week for well over a decade. There is a great sense of genuine unity and the Church has benefited hugely from that.
They asked Freedom In Christ to facilitate a day of corporate repentance. Around 35 leaders attended. They had researched some of the history of the Church and used this to repent together of past sins that were uncovered. They also intentionally affirmed the unity of the Spirit and prayed prayers of blessing on the different parts of the Church.
Can one day make much difference? Well, it certainly won't be the whole story but getting rid of the enemy's footholds can make a tangible difference to the spiritual atmoshphere. Some of the outcomes that seemed to come directly from the day:
- four days after the event was the quarterly Men's Breakfast - 17 men became Christians that day
- out of an apparently "chance" conversation on the day, a major outreach programme that no one had previously thought of and no one planned miraculously materialised: for 2 years, the Church in Reading has 2 minutes of video per hour on the video screens in the major shopping centre in the town. The five figure cost of this and of producing film for it (which regularly changes) was fully covered without anyone even having to begin to think about raising funds
- a historically difficult relationship was healed
- since that time, Christians have been able to work closely with the local council and have seen favour with other local bodies