For years, God has been preparing the soil of Dallas for the growth of an effective, collaborative, church-based city movement. We have a long-standing reputation of strong Bible teaching. Prayer warriors have poured out their hearts to God for revival. In recent years, churches from all denominations and races have gathered for worship and prayer.
Suddenly, God placed a question on the hearts of a few influential churches in the metroplex: what would it look like if we worked together in our communities?
Over the next year, plans were laid for a catalytic event that would mobilize 50+ churches and just under 20,000 volunteers on May 1-2, 2010. Houses were repaired. Neighborhoods were cleaned up. Homeless were touched. Under-resourced children were fed. Awareness of needs was raised. And relationships were started.
Within the next few months, this growing group of churches had birthed a beautiful vision for the city – and the Church of the city – that included leadership buy-in; changed hearts; a more glorifying representation of Christ to the world by His bride; and thriving, empowered communities.
Today, Unite is 300+ churches and growing and diverse in terms of denomination, race, socio-economic level, and location. Those church-to-church relationships are a HUGE step in the right direction. And we’ve taken advantage of that diversity and growing trust to brainstorm around questions such as:
• Can holiday outreach be empowering?
• How can we assess the needs in our communities?
• What are some tips for building partnerships with local ministries?
• How can churches partner with schools?
• What can the church do about sex trafficking?
• How can we build a structure of lay leaders? and
• How can we mobilize more of our congregations?
Our friend Chip Sweeney in Atlanta likes to say, “The smaller the geographic area, the deeper the collaboration.” We’ve found that to be true here. So we’ve broken up the metroplex into smaller geographic “regions.” These smaller groups of churches are the ones assessing the needs of their communities; identifying the best local ministries to partner with; and joining forces to engage and serve their communities in long-term, relational ways. And partly because Unite has a dedicated director, we are able to give these regions a 20,000-foot view of Dallas and equip them with effective resources.
In John 17:23, Jesus prays that we will experience such perfect unity that the world will know who Jesus is and that God loves them. That’s unity for the purposes of evangelism and service. Then Paul uses the word synergos over a dozen times in his letters. The Church is beginning to believe in synergy: that we really can do more together than we can apart. We’re beginning to see that the idea of unity should apply to more than just our individual congregations. And even that the different parts of the body that are meant to work together may actually be found across different denominations and races. God has revealed a vision for the future of our city and a plan for how He wants to accomplish it.
The kingdom of God is forcefully advancing here, and greater things are yet to come…