One city, one church

A Christian rock concert, put on by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Ottawa last weekend, was a genuine success, drawing 8,000 people the first night and thousands the second night.  Hundreds gave their lives to Christ for the first time.

For me, the most encouraging thing was that churches across the city pulled together behind this two-day outdoor concert, aimed mainly at young people.

For one weekend, we believers were close to being one church in one city.

Why can’t it be that way all the time?

Increasingly, Christians are asking that question around the world.  After all, that’s the way the church began.

That’s not to say that all believers must have the same worship style or that we must agree on every doctrinal detail.  But why can’t we pray together and work together?

I have been reading Prayer Evangelism, a fascinating book by Ed Silvoso which urges Christians to join together to reach their cities for the Lord.  Argentine-born Silvoso has a lot of experience with this concept, working with churches in North and South America and Asia.

One example he uses is the church in the city of San Nicolas in Argentina in 1997.  Christian delegates from around the world came to San Nicolas to pray with church leaders there against the cloud of evil and sin that had settled on that city.

After that,  pastors in every denomination in the city reconciled with each other, prayed together and laid the groundwork for a massive outreach to the city.  That included such innovative efforts as a “prayer fair” where residents of San Nicolas came for prayer for everything from broken marriages to drug abuse.  Thousands became believers.

The Transformation films tell a similar story in cities and countries where there was serious crime, political oppression, and the church was under attack.  The films document modern stories of churches coming together to pray, seek God’s face, and ask for forgiveness from each other.  The results are always striking as the spiritual climate changes and churches are revived.

Of course, there is  much more to it than the brief description I have given of Silvoso’s book.  For example, he urges Christians to offer mercy – not condemnation – to those who don’t believe and are struggling with sin and life.

But his argument for “one city, one church” is powerful.  Rivalry and back-biting among Christians have turned off non-believers for centuries.  Loving each other wins every time.

In most cities, groups of pastors do get together to talk and pray.  There are some joint ventures.  In our city, there is a group that does promote sharing and working together.

But, in most cases, it seems to me that this touches only a few.  The vast majority of Christians continue in their own small worlds without reaching out to others.

Christ and the apostles emphasized spiritual unity – unity in the Holy Spirit.  Surely that can extend to our brothers and sisters in the Lord in other churches in our own cities.

What a difference that would make!

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