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Pastors United In Prayer

Pastor's Prayer

They meet the first Wednesday morning of every month at a different local Church.  They represent the Body of Christ of the Santa Clarita Valley.  They include different denominations, different traditions, and different ethnicities.  What they all share in common is a devotion to Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation by grace, through faith in Him.  They are ministry leaders from across the Santa Clarita Valley who have a vision for the unity of the Church of the City.

These ministry leaders, and many more like them, have been gripped by Jesus’ prayer in John 17, I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (vs. 20, 21).  Jesus prays that the relational solidarity of his followers on earth would reflect the oneness that characterizes the Godhead and result in the salvation of the lost.

The unity and oneness of the broader body of Christ is more than a noble idea, it is a biblical mandate.  As an expression of sovereign grace, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have opened up the triune life of God to all those who respond to the gospel with saving faith.  As Christians we have been adopted as children of the Father, united in Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Just as every believer is on a progressive journey to become more like Christ in their attitudes and actions, in the same way the Body of Christ – the Church – is to increasingly reflect the oneness and unity of the triune God.  The unity of the Church is a super natural expression of the reality of our participating in the life of the triune God.

This triune unity of the body of Christ most naturally finds its expression in local gatherings of believers (churches) and in the relationships those gatherings have between one another – the Church of the city.

City Church Unite exists to nurture the spiritual vitality and visible unity of the body of Christ in the context of cities.  We believe that God is already at work around the globe, uniting his people and drawing the lost to Himself through the visible united witness of His Church.  How can you enter into this movement of God:

  • Begin a prayer group in your local Church that meets regularly to pray for the vitality and unity of the body of Christ in your city.
  • Begin to identify the stubborn realities of your city (homelessness, mental illness, teen drug use, the needs of foster families, teen suicide, racial prejudice) and begin to strategize how the body of Christ (churches, marketplace ministry leaders, and non-profits) in your community might work together to meaningfully begin to address these issues.
  • Encourage your pastoral leaders to meet and pray with leaders from other churches across your community.  Affirm them in their efforts to build relationships of trust with believers and leaders from other churches, denominations and traditions.

City Church Unite would welcome the opportunity to support and encourage the strengthening of unity in your community.  Contact us at info@CityChurchUnite.com

We also invite you to prayerfully consider becoming a partner with City Church Unite in strengthening the visible unity of the Body of Christ.  Blessings!

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Christ’s Desire For Unity

Blurred City cover

By Tracy Weaver

 The New Testament warns against placing any other authority over the authority of God’s word. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees saying, “for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). The gospel of Mark records a similar admonition, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:9). The Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to guard against being deceived by “human tradition” instead of living “according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

The word for “tradition” used in these passages is Parádosis – to hand over from close beside. It’s the idea of influencing behavior from one generation to another. A “Culture” can have the same effect as “tradition”. Culture can be defined as “the attitudes and behavior characteristics of a particular social group.” When we grow up within a culture, we assimilate the values and behaviors of that culture. They become so deeply embedded and naturally acted upon, its like breathing, we don’t even think about it. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to break free of a culturally embedded value or behavior. The Christian life, however, is all about becoming a person who chooses not to conform to this world but to be “transformed” by renewing our minds according to the will of God (Romans 12:2).

The growing concern on my heart is that our western Christian culture, with a high value of independence, has resulted in an over-emphasis on “our” local ministry and blinded us to our strategic participation with the broader Body of Christ within our community … the Church of the City.  Consider these New Testament truths:

  • Jesus fervently prayed that his followers would be “one”, even “perfectly one” so that the world would know and believe (John 17:21-23).  In this passage, Jesus directly links the effective accomplishment of the Great Commission (knowing and believing) with the visible unity of his followers.
  • The Apostle Paul directed the majority of his epistles to all the believers within the city or region. “To all those in Rome” … “To the church of God that is in Corinth” … “To the churches of Galatia” (a region) … “To the saints who are in Ephesus” … ‘To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi” … “To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae” … “To the church of the Thessalonians.” Therefore, all the imperatives to love, honor, be kind, forgive, forbear, be devoted to, etc., are incumbent on all the believers to one another within the city and not simply to their local gathering!
  • We typically apply Paul’s “body” metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:20-22 to our congregation, stressing our individual need for each other – “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you.”  But since this passage is directed to “the Church of God that is in Corinth” a more accurate application needs to include clusters of believers or congregations not being able to say to another congregation “I have no need of you.” First Conservative Church can’t say to First Charismatic, “I have no need of you.”
  • The metaphors of the Church in the New Testament all speak of one cohesive Body – Christ’s Bride, Christ’s Body, One Temple, One Man, and One Loaf.  Paul exhorts all the saints in Phillippi to be “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27).
  • All Seven Letters in the book of Revelation are written to the City Church and not simply a single congregation within the city.

Jesus makes it clear that he only speaks and does what the Father directs (John 12:49-50).  The core value of Jesus for the oneness of his followers, therefore, reflects the heart of the Father.  Our Lord’s desire must become the priority of the Body of Christ. The Church must pursue and embody the prayer of our Lord for the visible unity of his followers.

The strong implication of these passages (and many more) is that the Lord’s under-shepherds, as stewards entrusted with the care of the saints, must play a vital leadership role toward breaking free of established cultural norms and pursuing Christ’s call to supernatural unity and visible witness.

City Church Unite exists to serve as a supportive catalyst in the lives of leaders and churches to nurture the oneness and vitality of the Church of the City. Pastors play a strategic role of embracing and modeling Christ’s heart for the unity of his people in the Church of the City (the broader Body). Their Church family and ministry peers will be influenced by their example.

Don’t be surprised if, as you read this, there is a natural resistance in your spirit.  All of us are deeply influenced by our independent, western culture. The question, of course, for all of us as members of Christ’s body is “What does God’s word call us to do?”  I invite you look at the passages, consider the implications, and ask the Lord of the Church if this truly is the desire of his heart for his followers.

For further reading:

 City Church: Working Together to Transform Cities by Kelly Malone

A Disruptive Gospel by Mac Pier

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Meet Tracy Weaver

PAPA & GRAMMIE REVISED

Tracy Weaver serves as the Executive Director of City Church Unite.

Tracy was born and raised in Fullerton, California. He graduated from Biola University in 1979 and then earned his Masters of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, graduating in 1984. Tracy is ordained with the Evangelical Free Church of America and has over thirty years of pastoral ministry experience. He has served churches in California, Texas and Minnesota and has ministered internationally in Moldavia, Romania, Australia, Haiti, Mexico, India and Turkey.  Before launching City Church Unite, Tracy and Debra served as the Directors of Staff Vitality for ChurchNEXT, part of Church Resource Ministries. Tracy’s passionate desire is to declare God’s truth, unite God’s leaders, and encourage and equip God’s people.

T&D 2017Tracy’s heart belongs to his wife Debra. Debra received her bachelor’s degree in Nursing with a minor in Bible from Biola University in 1979. Debra is a gifted minister to women young and old. For thirteen years (2001-2014) Debra served as the Corporate Chaplain of three strategic companies in Alexandria, MN caring for the spiritual needs of the employees. Her love for Jesus, her compassion for others and her gift of evangelism make Debra a remarkable ministry tool in God’s hands regardless of the cultural setting.

Processed with VSCO with g1 presetTracy and Debra have four adult children: Justin and his wife Kim, Rachel and her husband Brant (Zoe, Allie and Chara), Sarah and her husband Evan (Maverick and Brecken), and Jordan and his wife Joyce. Each member of the Weaver clan have embraced Jesus as their Savior and are walking with Him in their particular life setting.    As Tracy says, “My family members are my favorite people on the planet.”