Dear Brothers and Sisters of City of Light,
Bonnie and I have been deeply encouraged by the ways we have seen the Lord present and working in City of Light this past month. We have continued to ask the question I asked in my message on All Saints Sunday, "What is God's dream for us in the next year? What is God’s dream for each of us? Our households? For those in our lives that are far from him? For this church? For our neighborhoods?”
We believe the Lord is leading us into a next season here at City of Light heading into 2018— year number three in our church planting journey where we not merely are self-sustaining, but where we are growing and flourishing for the sake of others.
Like a healthy branch that grows upward and outward to provide more shelter and more life, we want to grow and flourish to see more people enter into the healing presence of the Lord. We want City of Light to be like the tree in the Psalms planted in Aurora for generations (Psalm 92:12-15).
As we anticipate this next season, we begin in collaboration together. How would you answer the questions, “Where have you seen the Lord present and working? What is God’s dream for City of Light?” We need to share these dreams and stories together as we open our imaginations to what God wants to do in us and through us in the next year, five years, and ten years.
I’ll share a couple of specific opportunities for doing that at the end of the letter. For us to enter into a next season of growing and flourishing, there are three areas in which I believe the Lord is inviting us to engage:
First, we have to begin in prayer. If we want to see God present and working in ways on he can work, then we have to learn how to more deeply rely on him. City of Light was born during 100 days of 24/7 prayer at our sending church. It was a day of prayer and fasting together that brought us into Hill Elementary.
In Psalm 44, the writer says that they were not saved by their own sword, but by the hand of the Lord: “It was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.”
In prayer, we sit in the delight of the Lord and ask him to work so that others will know his delight. Only he can bring a new day. He does not ask us to manufacture something. He asks us to seek first the kingdom of God, to knock, and to ask.
What are some ways that we can pray and fast together for the sake of others in 2018?
In Luke 7, Jesus tells a parable about a great feast and teaches his followers to invite the ones who can’t invite them back. This year we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven feast by throwing parties—for our church, our neighbors, Hill Elementary, and our city.
We have always been a church that loves to gather around the table on Sunday, in our homes, and in our city. It’s around the table that we invite others to belong, be known, be cared for, and be loved.
This fall we’ve had more opportunities to eat after a service and they have been a great chance to connect with folks new to City of Light and to welcome guests. Groups and households have thrown parties and invited others. And in November and December we’re taking part in parties for our city by serving at the Winter Lights Festival, the December First Fridays Event downtown, and a Coat Drive for Hill.
What are some other kingdom of heaven parties that we can throw in 2018 for the sake of others?
City of Light began in early 2015 with a launch team of 30 people—15 of them children— partnering together in prayer. By the fall of 2015 there were 60 of us. In 2016 that partnership grew to 80 and now in 2017 we there are around 100 of us. In the same way we had a team to launch us, we now need a team to fully plant us.
In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul teaches that the church is the body of Jesus and each person is a member that makes up the body (v. 27). Not members like, "Hey, I'm a member of Cosco so I get these privileges," but rather members like, “My arm is a member of my body and my body needs my arm to do arm things."
We want to be a church where each person is invited to be an important member of the team participating in the mission of the team. And we want to be a church committed to one another and to everyone who needs a home in the church.
One of the opportunities to grow in our partnership will be a season in the beginning of 2018 that invites everyone to join join the new day, new home, new heart team. This series will include many ways to join the team—one of them being a membership process for those who want to to commit to being members of this local church. We’ll have a lot more details in the next weeks.
How do we partner together as members of City of Light for the sake of others?
The first step in our partnership is to dream together! We want to come together to hear from the Lord and let him shape these dreams. We want to open our imaginations to God’s dream for us as individuals, households, a church, a neighborhood, and a city—a dream for our growing and flourishing in him. There are a couple opportunities to do just that listed below.
Bonnie and I have such a desire and hope in the Lord for this next season of growing and flourishing for the sake of others at City of Light in 2018 and we can’t wait collaborate on it together!