CCU Blog

A Defining Movement

The Church was born on Pentecost (Acts 2).

For the first time in the history of mankind God chose to indwell all of his followers with his personal presence.  For the Apostle Paul the defining reality of a person who belongs to Christ is the presence of the Holy Spirit within them – “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9b).  Paul divides all of humanity by either being “in the flesh” (i.e. unsaved) or “in the Spirit” (i.e. saved) – “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9a). Every person who has believed the gospel message of Jesus has been forgiven of their sin and received the promised life of God through his Spirit.

From Pentecost forward, God’s redemptive mission for mankind has been advanced by his human ambassadors who carry his personal presence into every home, every workplace, every relationship, and every conversation.

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Written in my journal March 1, 2018.

God’s design is that his Church, expressed individually, congregationallly, and collectively, would be a winsome visible witness of the grace and truth of Jesus by embodying and communicating the gospel.  Paul celebrates the collective Church in Thessalonica by affirming the influence they have had.  He writes, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8).  The unified witness of the Church of the City in Thessalonica had a regional, national, and international impact.

For years, the Church in the west has been largely entrenched in a congregationally focused view of the Body of Christ.  New Testament exhortations to love one another, serve one another, forgive one another and even be willing to die for one another are routinely applied directly to the local congregation of the preacher – completely ignoring that they were originally directed to the collective Church of the city.

There is, however, a thrilling movement of the Holy Spirit taking place, awakening Christ’s followers to their essential identity as collective members of His singular Body and responsible to carry out the desires and commands of the Head, who is Christ.  I believe the uniting of the Body of Christ in cities around the world,  is the defining movement of the Holy Spirit in these last days before Christ’s return.

I invite you to become an active participant in this movement of the Spirit by engaging God in two courageous ways.

  1. Pray.  Ask the unified triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to awaken you to his design and desire for the collective visible witness of the Body of Christ.
  2. Read.  Begin reading Paul’s epistles (noting to whom the are addressed (the collective Church of the city) and start envisioning what the commands and exhortations would look like if they were carried out among the churches of your community.

We, at City Church Unite, would love to hear about your discoveries and be a source of encouragement as well.  We invite you to use the form below to share your comments.   – Tracy Weaver

CCU Blog

EnVision The Church of Santa Clarita

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EnVision The Church of Santa Clarita, California

(This essay was written with Santa Clarita, California, in mind.  As you read it, however, I invite you to prayerfully seek God’s heart on behalf of your community. I believe Jesus is stirring his Church toward a renaissance of spiritual vitality, visible unity, and citywide transformation.  This vision isn’t only for Santa Clarita, but for your community as well.)

From art, to fashion, to entertainment, to social trends … it is widely recognized that California influences the world. Because of Santa Clarita’s strategic location and close proximity to Los Angeles, the city of Santa Clarita (the Santa Clarita Valley) is poised to have a remarkable influence in its local context and beyond. What is true of the city is true of the Church of the city.

If you were to take a few minutes before the Lord and ask Him, “What do You envision for the Church of Santa Clarita?” – what impressions do you think His Spirit would place upon your heart? (I encourage you to try this exercise and write down your thoughts). Here is what came to my mind:

  • A strategic city where the Body of Christ has embraced its unified God-designed relationship of love and honor under Christ as its Head (Eph. 1:22, 4:15, 5:23; John 17).
  • Church families (congregations, fellowships, and missional communities) that are walking in relational health and spiritual vitality with Christ, with their pastoral leadership, and with one another.
  • Churches that are devoted to enhancing Christ’s Kingdom beyond their local expressions by providing ministries and services to build and strengthen the broader Body of Christ and bless the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond.
  • A unified Church of Santa Clarita that is being used as a strategic tool to recapture one of the greatest priorities of Christ’s heart – the collective unity of His people to impact the world.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even 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 sent Me. 22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. – John 17:20-23

  • A Collective City-Church that is “seeding” a movement of fresh expressions (forms) of God’s people gathering for worship, evangelism and equipping throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
  • A City-Church that is impacting the marketplace by equipping God’s people with the vision and skills to fulfill their calling to be His representatives in the workplace.
  • A City-Church that, by virtue of its radical obedience to Christ, is reaching and inspiring a new generation of Christ followers to boldly live for His glory in their neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
  • A City-Church that, by virtue of its compassion and gracious spirit, is catalyzing a movement of collaborative service with non-profit organizations, the marketplace, and city structures to bless and transform the city.
  • A City-Church that God graciously uses to have an influence and impact for the gospel far beyond its capacity and resources.

For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth” (1 Thess. 1:8)

A vision like this can only be realized by the grace and empowerment of God. It will need Pastoral Leaders who have embraced Christ’s desire for His people to live and serve as one – even as He and the Father are one (Jn. 17:21).   It will require leaders who have not yet been developed and the gifts and passions of Christians who have not yet embraced the Savior. It will call for faith to trust God for what cannot be seen, and necessitate stepping beyond our comfort zone. It will demand our total devotion to Jesus and His Kingdom, realizing that we may only serve as stepping-stones to its ultimate fulfillment. I believe this vision for the collective Church of the city is an expression of Jesus’ heart. I can’t think of anything more thrilling than partnering with Him in the pursuit of such a vision. – Tracy Weaver, February 2018