Since the release of my book, Your Church Is Too Small, I have encountered a number of movements seeking to promote what I call missional-ecumenism. One of these movements is a ministry called Christ Together. I recently met the national director of Christ Together, Scott Gifford, and the founder and president, Pastor Scott Chapman (photo at right). A month ago I met the Chicago director, Pastor Bill Yaccino. I am excited about what these guys are doing to promote a church network that leads to relationships that will foster a missional vision of the church in a city or area.
Pastor Scott Chapman’s story is much like that of my own son. After planting a church (with a partner from seminar days in 1994) he realized exactly what my son did when he planted New Hope Community in Streamwood (IL). When God looks at a city he does not see many churches but one church meeting in many places. This is the theology of the church that I advance in my book. I believe that it is grounded in the New Testament view of the church and her unity. One church gathers in many locations but by definition the church is not two or three or ten thousand but one (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6). And just as there are “no little people” (Francis Schaeffer) there are “no little churches” say the folks at Christ Together. I totally agree. No church, no matter how large or important, can reach everyone or become all that is needed in one location. The mosaic of many churches constituting one church needs to be embraced and developed. Christ Together is seeking to practically do this by bringing people together in ways that can actually create a sustainable movement of people and churches working in relational unity. The Christ Together site will give you the history and explain much more.
The approach taken by Christ Together is to bring churches together in a broader church context by providing practical resources that will feed accessible relationships for the purpose of the mission of Christ. By this means the church can have a deeper and more lasting impact upon a city or area. Christ Together identifies five key shifts that need to take place for this to happen.
Christ Together began when leaders of several churches in Lake County (IL), north of Chicago, began to ask what might happen if they stopped seeing themselves as disconnected islands and embraced the idea of one kingdom in their leadership practice. It is this theological question that drove the changes I have written about in my life thus meeting a group of passionate leaders who are asking the same question, and seeking to actually implement this vision in the broader church, moves me deeply. Now that I know the leadership of Christ Together I expect that you will hear more about this marvelous ministry from my blogs and sundry posts. I anticipate supporting the vision of Christ Together with all my heart in the coming years. Pray for all of us as we ask, “What does God want to do with our gifts and ministries in light of this great vision?” The power of a united church is clearly needed in North America. My new friends at Christ Together clearly understand this need. If you want some help in your church and city check out what these leaders have to offer.