USA (MNN) – West Michigan is a region of the state that falls into the so-called “Bible belt”. It’s one of those communities that people describe by saying, “There’s a church on every corner.” But Joe Stowell of Cornerstone University says appearances don’t tell the full story about Gospel saturation.
“I think we look like that on the outside, but I think we’re over-churched and under-saved, if you want to be honest about it. You know, West Michigan has a lot of wealth here, but there’s a spiritual poverty.”
A number of Christians from the area are joining forces with the Luis Palau Association to address the spiritual poverty as well as other needs within the nearby communities.
(Image courtesy of CityFest West Michigan)
Next September, the Luis Palau Association will be holding a two-day festival in West Michigan with Luis and his son, Andrew. Over those two days known as CityFest, the message of Jesus Christ will be shared. But leading up to the festival, the churches and organizations involved will spend time connecting with the community. This part is called CityServe.
Stowell says the partnership will help to drive “the Body of Christ in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ into the hearts and lives of so many who are yet waiting to hear Him, and also to bring the love of Christ into the neighborhoods that are broken and in desperate need of help.”
A unified Church is an effective one
Right now, they’re working on gathering the local Christians together. So far, over 150 churches and organizations have joined the movement. Yesterday morning, a group met to pray for the region, and for unity among the churches as this project goes forward. Unity is a key ingredient to effective community outreach.
(Photo courtesy of Beth Stolicker)
“We’re all so busy in our little corners of the Kingdom, we forget that maybe if we got together and did something as one, it could be amazing,” Stowell says.
A united network of churches not only allows for collaboration, but it helps the Church maintain awareness as to what is going on in the communities around them. The festival is set for September 8 and 9. Up to that point, they will be establishing relationships, aiding existing mission work, and building towards sustainable Gospel growth.
“We’ll actually be working with inner city ministries and empowering them and working with them to accelerate their work with the homeless, with the poor, with neighborhood needs, with tutoring, with children at risk,” Stowell says.
A unified Church gone global
But this story isn’t just about one city or even one nation. This is about seeing the Gospel transform the globe, city by city. The Luis Palau Association holds several festivals like this with the goal to equip the Church to continue sustainable outreach that meets community needs, both spiritual and physical. The organization describes it as a Gospel-centered, Church-driven, disciple-led, city-focused movement.
But what is the advantage of this approach when it comes to systematic issues that cause poverty and at-risk situations?
“I think we have to remember that the social theory and tax dollars and politics can’t do what Jesus can do,” Stowell says. When the Church acts as the hands and feet of Jesus, doing His work, it opens up conversations about the Gospel.
“So, then we can move from the physical needs into the spiritual needs.”
To learn more about these festivals and the intentional outreach and unity that comes with them, click here. You can even check out this list of upcoming events to see if there’s one taking place in your area.
Praying for transformation in Michigan
(Photo courtesy of Beth Stolicker)
In the meantime, we can be praying for these festivals as they take place throughout the year.
For West Michigan, specifically, Stowell says, “I think we need to pray that the hosts of heaven hold back the power of the enemy so that we can have, not necessarily clear sailing (because there’s never clear sailing), but that we can have the momentum of God without interference in getting this done.”
Be praying for the Body of Christ to be unified as they work to reach local communities. Pray for many hearts to receive the Gospel as they experience the love of Jesus.
Are you in the West Michigan area? This is a Church-wide effort, and so if you’re a local Christian or church interested in getting involved, sign up here.