Finally! A Model of Unity

Last week I spent 2 days in Cedar Rapids, Iowa speaking to the Linn County Association of Evangelicals. Like no where else that I have ever traveled around the world have I seen such a powerful Association of local churches banding together for the greater good of doing Kingdom work. Although ‘Evangelical’ is in their name, this wide ranging Association has Christian denominations from across the board (from the United Methodist Church to Assembly of God) who forsake their individual church’s names and instead focus on intentionally partnering with each other to live out their slogan:

Prayer. Care. Share.

I immediately resonated with their slogan because it’s just another way to communicate my definition of love:

Tangible and measureable expressions of unconditional behaviors towards another.

Give me something real. Give me something I can hold on to—something I can see, hear, feel and track. Give me a tangible faith that doesn’t just intellectualize ethereal constructs but puts hands and feet to Christ’s love in such a way that community impact is felt without a doubt of who’s doing it and why they’re doing it! And the Linn County Association of Evangelicals is living it, every bit of it. I was so humbled to be with them as I saw what the Body of Christ truly looks like when names and denominations are stripped away and Kingdom priorities are thrust to the forefront. I can now officially say that I have found a model for Unity for the body living out what it means to be the Body.

Though what struck me as sad during my two days there was how much the world and the Kingdom are missing out because most of Christianity is too concerned with structurally-centered individuality. Here’s the crazy part—the 35 ‘smaller’ churches from all different denominations tightly banded together in Linn County combine to a greater number of congregants than any other mega-church in the country, and their unified tangible actions throughout their entire County are felt louder than any mega-church as well! The question that was looking me dead in the eye while I was out there:

Is Christianity about church growth or Kingdom impact?

However you or your pastor answers that question will determine the course of finding the solution to both of those questions. I don’t care about numbers, clout or political influence—I care about impact.

As Paul once so boldy reminded the Corinthian church as I would so boldy do so now regarding our own Church: “I say this to shame you” (1 Corinthians 6:5a). So then my brothers and sisters, what is it that you and your church are all about?

If anyone is ever around Cedar Rapids, Iowa, please look up the Linn County Association of Evangelicals and check out their unbelievable, unified, Kingdom work.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.newcovenantbible.org/NCBC/ASFRoot/031509a/sermon_new.html Tye Male

    Wow, thanks for the props Andrew. LCAE is a "spoke" of a larger organization called "Serve the City" which has over 40 churches and Christian ministries represented. Charles Daugherty has done an awesome job over the years being a pastor to the pastors and Christian organizations in Cedar Rapids.

    This coalition of churches went to work when the flood of 2008 was impending and volunteers went door-to-door begging people to flee the coming flood waters. As a result, not one life was lost.

    Charles then led a huge group of volunteers who organized and dispatched workers into the flood zone as recovery began.

    We feel really blessed here to have such a great group of ministry partners!

  • http://www.northstar-net.org Brent Watkins

    I think the blessing was ours Andrew. You were a tremendous encouragement to us. I am reading your book as I write this comment. Awesome! All God's best to you as you continue your ministry.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    "Is Christianity about church growth or Kingdom impact?"

    Isn't it sad that this question even needs to be asked?

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Yes, it's very sad. I still have hope though…

  • http://www.newcovenantbible.org/NCBC/ASFRoot/031509a/sermon_new.html Tye Male

    I don't think church growth and kingdom impact are mutually exclusive. Healthy things have a tendency to grow. And with the growth comes kingdom impact. I know a lot of people who are skeptical when healthy things grow. I'm not sure why.

  • http://www.bushlack.com Loretta Bushlack

    Andrew, it was a pleasure attending the LCAE luncheon and hearing you speak so passionately. I wish more of us in the Body were willing to do hard things and extreme things for the cause of Christ. Your message is convicting and challenging and I will be praying for you and your ministry as I read your book.

    Thanks for your kind words about the LCAE. It is a real blessing to be a part of this community.

  • Leah Romanelli

    Hey, Andrew–thanks for the shout-out to LCAE. It was great to have you–people have been brain-storming since your talk and it’s cool to see. Also SO great to have you at Urbana this year.

    Peace.


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