In seat 9B, somewhere over the Midwest, many thoughts swirl through my mind. I’m flying home to Pennsylvania from the second-annual North America Gospel Advancing Summit in Estes Park, Colorado. The Summit gathered roughly 200 pastors from every part of the country and even other parts of the world. Some spoke English as their secondary language, and every shade of skin color was present. The pastors hailed from a variety of denominations. But despite the group’s diversity, it had a quality every church craves: unity.
Many churches preach unity, talk about unity, and tell people to be unified—yet they look more like a disjointed family at an awkward reunion than a cohesive group of believers. American culture is divided on so many levels—skin color, social status, geography, wealth—and unfortunately, the church often mirrors this.
So how was it that this thrown-together group instantly had what churches crave? The answer is simple: The unity at the Gospel Advancing Summit came from the Gospel itself.
In a breakout session, around a table with predominantly strangers, we answered personal questions about our struggles vulnerably—even though we represented a variety of ages, races, and home states. Answers to the question on how we could get better at soul care ranged from getting more sleep and taking better care of our physical bodies to going deeper in prayer and working on our personal walks with Christ.
At the end of the breakout, I mentioned to the group that in spite of no relationships among us, we were real with one another. How did this happen? The focus was so specific that cultural differences disappeared, walls of separation were never built, and the love of the Gospel was all that was seen. There was a Gospel unity that drew us at the table and those at the Summit together in a way that nothing else ever could.
BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN
I loved every second of this small sampling of what Heaven will be like. I didn’t want to leave—and I was not alone in that sentiment. I was even secretly hoping we would get the 2 feet of snow that was predicted. When you have a time like this, you do not want it to end.
Do the people, specifically the youth, at your church experience this unity—the kind that comes from loving the Gospel and is displayed in the response to openly sharing a hurt or a struggle? If not, why not? Aren’t we supposed to be known for our love?
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35
What if we saw that the Gospel that saved us could also unify us? What if the world without Christ could see His church walking in a Gospel unity, and what if we could help each other remember this?
3 TIPS TO CONNECT WITH YOUTH PASTORS IN YOUR AREA
We need each other to remind ourselves of the power of the Gospel and the unity that comes through it, but sometimes it’s hard to find that encouraging friend. Here are three simple ways to find those fellow Gospel Advancing youth leaders:
1.Check out the Gospel Advancing Map. If you click on the blue icon nearest your location, you’ll be able to enter your email to connect with a network leader.
2. Check out this article on how to connect with other leaders through a network or start one in your area.
3. Learn more about the North America Gospel Advancing Summit, and submit your application to be a part of this catalytic event.