If you have been around at Greater Portland Bible Church for the past month, you have heard us talking about our “September 9th worship service”. Depending on what you have heard, it may or may not be clear what this worship service is all about. No matter what you’ve heard so far, I want to talk a little bit about how excited we are to meet with our brothers and sisters from Missio and Riversgate Church on September 9 at Alpenrose Dairy.
I first met Dominic Kan, Lead Pastor at Missio several months ago during my first month at GPBC. As we talked over lunch, we realized that we had a similar vision and passion for fostering partnerships between churches for the purpose of enjoying greater unity and a more effective witness of Jesus’s Church. At the time, the conversation was centered on our high school students and how to create more fellowship among Christians on our local high school campuses.
As Dominic and I talked during that meeting, we sensed a similar passion for partnering together to reach southwest Portland. He also mentioned another “kindred spirit” who had expressed many of the same things to him, Andy Mahoney at Riversgate Church. We quickly came to the conclusion that the three of us should begin meeting for prayer to seek fellowship and the Lord’s will for southwest Portland.
Over a handful of these prayer meetings, we began to see a common vision coming together as a partnership of at least three churches, GPBC, Missio, and Riversgate. This emerging partnership has birthed the combined worship service that we have planned for September 9.
As we are planning for this event, our focus is a little more nuanced than merely getting churches together for one event of worship. Instead, it is continuation of this partnership and a continuation of our process in seeking what Jesus wants to do with his Church in southwest Portland. I want to invite you to join us in that process. As we join with Missio and Riversgate churches on September 9, you will participate in our partnership in action. Not only our lead pastors but our worship teams, children’s teams and other service teams are working together across the three churches, to plan and produce this service. Even our offering for that day will be combined and given to a local ministry organization that we have agreed to support together, Safe Families of Portland.
As we seek the Lord in this three church partnership, our vision is to see this partnership stand as a witness for Jesus in our city. We know that unity is essentially important for Jesus among all of his churches, not just within individual local churches but among local churches. This kind of unity is more than just getting along with other churches or co-existing, it should look like the body of Christ working together.
So, as we are working for true partnership in unity we believe that we are honoring Jesus well. Listen to a few of Jesus’s words about unity, words which he prayed on his last night before his death:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:20-21
In this prayer, there is an implicit promise, that if all Christ-followers live in unity, the world will believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We can’t always anticipate the many ways that Jesus will use our unity to reach the world. However, we believe that Jesus is glorified in the unity of His Church and that we make ourselves much more available for mission as we display the unity of Jesus’s church to the world, a place and time where real unity is in short supply.
I want to invite you to join us and be a partner with us for our Southwest Churches Together worship service on September 9 at Alpenrose Dairy. In the weeks leading up that service, please join us in prayer in seeking how the Lord wants you to be a part of this partnership to reach our city. We believe that Southwest Churches Together is more than just a novelty worship service, it is the beginning of something special that Jesus is doing in southwest Portland. Personally, I can’t wait to get started!