Today I was asked to summarize our progress in pulling together the Kansas City Coalition for the First Thursday Citywide Prayer Meeting. Here is what I wrote: God is doing a new thing in these days to bring the Church of KC together in unprecedented ways. God is doing it. It isn’t a new idea in Kansas City to bring the Church together to work as one. In our history, as a city, we have some bright spots like in 1923 when 52,000 business men who led Bible classes gathered downtown and filled the streets in a sign of solidarity for their mission.
In 1977 the priests of the Catholic Church, some 35,000, from all over the world gathered in Arrowhead stadium for three days in a meeting where God poured out his Holy Spirit in lavish ways that surprised the participants w His tangible presence. Perhaps the most remarkable attribute was the unity and love for the Church they experienced.
There have been efforts like the Graham crusades, or more recently Rock the River, where churches across our city joined in mission. Two years ago, on the Global day of Prayer, approx 5,000 gathered at Livestrong Park to pray and worship. Unfortunately these were the exception and not the rule. There were occasional breakthroughs but the prevailing story was one of churches and movements in our city doing good work but with efforts that ran parallel. There was precious little communication, collaboration or coordination of mission.
Meanwhile we live in a city that is marked by division. There is a state line down the middle of our city and with it a clear division of resources. One side of our city is among the leading cities in our country when it comes to violence and murder. We have a river that divides us North and South. We have different city governments, KCK, KCMO, Independence, Gladstone, Grandview, N. KC, Platte City, Overland Park, Olathe, Shawnee, Lenexa and the list goes on. There are white churches afraid of the inner city. We have black churches who’ve been disappointed so many times they’ve quit believing the white church cares. We have a growing Hispanic population, nearly half of which is termed “illegal”. They don’t trust even the Church. We are a city divided.
Our KCMO school district is among the worst in the nation. We lead the country in payday loans and we lead the region in sex trafficking. I already spoke about crime and murder much of it black on black. We have have’s and have nots. Johnson County is one of the ten riches counties in the nation. KCMO is one of the poorest. They are a ten minute drive from each other.On top of all of this we have a church divided around doctrine, around race and in practice. Of the nearly 3,000 churches, I’m going to estimate here, 2,800 don’t know another church or work together.
But this is where the story begins to change. In these days there are some 200 churches who are starting to believe we are better together. They are beginning to act like Jesus has ONE Church in Kansas City and that His bride is beautiful. We are learning to like each other, work together and enjoy each other’s company. Movements like Citywide Prayer, The Sending Project, Integrity Resources, What If The Church?, PastorServe, the Co-Op and others have made unity and collaboration high priority. IHOP has 1,000 people praying day and night in Kansas City and they’ve been praying like this for 10 years. One of their repeated prayers has been for the Church of Kansas City to be one.
That has become mission critical for churches and movements in our city for the last two years. Fourteen months ago there were 80 or so pastors and movement leaders who gathered at the Heartland Presbyterian Retreat Center and commissioned a team to work together for six months to create a model for a Coalition that would bring churches and missional movements together across our city to work in John 17 unity. We want to obediently respond to the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus for His Church to be one “so that the world will know we are His disciples.” Last March, nearly a year ago now, some 50 pastors and leaders gathered to work and pray for three days in Branson, MO to talk through what it would take to unite the whole Church around the whole Gospel for the whole city. That would lead to persons being made whole, marriages being whole, families being whole and the Church of Jesus being internally strong so that we could be externally focused.
A small team was sent out to bring back a model for a Kansas City Coalition that would effectively bring the efforts of churches and movements together around what we came to called “the 3 Cs Coordination, Collaboration, and communication.” We need to coordinate the many good efforts into a strategically designed calendar of learning, equipping and serving for our city. We need to work together. All too often the left hand hasn’t known what the right hand is doing. We are not content for that to be our practice in the future. We need to collaborate our efforts so we look more like the body of Christ as designed by our Heavenly Father as detailed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
This October that plan for a KC Coalition was tightened up, rolled out to a group of pastors and movement leaders and adopted. And just after next Easter, the KC Coalition will be more than a dream, more than a prayer, it will be a reality in Kansas City
We humbly admit there are some giants in our land that will only fall if we work together. We will fall if we are divided and we will bring dishonor to the name of Jesus. Men will curse the church and mock it if we don’t do a better job of working together than we have. We will appear inept and irrelevant. But this is not the church Jesus died to establish. He said, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
His church, the church with a capital C, is rising up out of our disunity and seizing the day. Already movements like Citywide Prayer and What if the Church are joining hands in ministries like “Caring for Kids” that is catching the attention of Educators across our city. Caring for Kids is a multifaceted movement but one of the anchor tenants is the creation of church, school and corporate partnerships. These are done so effectively that these schools are now receiving national attention.
Efforts are rising up around our city to adopt orphans and find homes for those in foster care. Churches are coming together, some 40 at a time, in unprecedented ways through What I’d the Church? to share teaching, worship, prayer and service in our city. Whole portions of the urban core are experiencing the church with a capital C work together to bring urban transformation through the Co-op. Fatherlessness and racial division have major targets on their back as the church of Kansas City rises up to be the Church. Efforts to stamp out the ugly slavery of sex trafficking are showing up in Shawnee and Olathe and the churches’ voice is welcome. In some cases the churches’ leadership is leading the charge.
Church in KC this is a kairos moment! We must seize the day and pray as we have never prayed before. Prayer is our conduit to heaven. We have direct access to the throne room of the Farther, Son and Holy Spirit. We live at a time in history where our generation will be the generation to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus. Imagine all the prayers that have been prayed, the tears that have been shed, the blood that has been spilled and the lives that have been offered up in Martyrdom to get to the moment in time where we could say the Good News is engaging every race, language, tribe and tongue. This is the moment in which we live! We must be like the men of Issachar who knew their times, they knew their God and they knew what to do. We must cooperate with one another, listen, love and serve together in unprecedented ways. We must join hands and build bridges. Press in. Recognize the strategic timing that is at hand and step into the plans of God for our city.