For some time now, the idea of “believing for a city together” has been beating in my heart. I now believe that entire cities can be transformed for Christ if the body of Christ actually acts as one. In Goodyear, Arizona we have seen God unite churches in miraculous ways. I have planned events and outreaches throughout the year with a group of youth pastors from various churches around our city. We had as many as fourteen churches participating in worship and prayer in one night. All the youth leaders currently meet once per month to encourage each other and to plan events as one body. A while ago we came up with the name “ONE” that we use for every event. ONE stands for “one” body of Christ serving “one” Kingdom as “one.”
An event we just recently put on featured a fire hydrant. We decided as one body to do an outreach to our city. We approached the city of Goodyear asking how we could help them and they gave us two projects that would help them save money: painting fire hydrants and clearing land by a water plant.
On March 12, over 150 youth from over 6 churches came together to complete the requests of the city. After being greeted by the mayor of Goodyear, we grabbed our brushes, cardboard drop sheets, and cans upon cans of safety yellow paint. For the next 3 hours, we painted fire hydrants bright yellow in an entire Goodyear neighborhood. With paint in their hair and on their clothes, our youth raved about how much fun they had serving. It was such a blessing to watch the youth take ownership of their city, and the community embrace them while they did it. This was an awesome youth event and the city was blessed by it.
Now, I have to be completely honest with you. While I love to serve and believe serving and labor are good life lessons for youth groups, I wasn’t really into the project up front. I tend to lean toward outreaches that directly feed the poor, pray for the sick, or share the gospel. So when we first decided to paint fire hydrants, I was a bit skeptical. However, this single project has expanded the kingdom in ways that I was not at first able to see.
1) Helping the city opened doors for ministry to government officials.
Painting fire hydrants was all worth it when I heard a city official say, “I guess the church isn’t as needy as we thought. You guys are safe and so open to give. I would have no problem referring people to you.” This project opened doors to show the city God’s heart of love. Not only did we show the city the heart of the body of Christ, we also had chances to pray with officials, including the mayor. The public officials offered up recognition and thanks on a public level at a city council meeting, where the mayor spoke about the importance of church roles in community. We are still, to this day, discovering the true impact of our labor for our city.
2) We sowed into our community.
This single event saved the city approximately $5,000. That money is now freed up for budgeting. The money saved can be used to help programs that are struggling due to budget cuts in today’s economy. To me, this was a huge plus to see the Church rise up in prayer and action to see change in our community.
3) It taught the youth to take ownership in their city.
The mayor said it best when she commented, “This kind of outreach speaks volumes for the church as it is teaching young people to take pride in their city.” She went on to discuss the impact of ownership in a city cutting down vandalism and crime. Again, to me, it is a blessing when the city can associate the church with “good” and cutting down crime.
4) Finally, we had a chance to unite the body of Christ.
With over 150 students from multiple churches coming together for their city, nothing is impossible. I believe that whenever the church prays and moves in unity, it tugs the heart of God. God is passionate about his children praising him together in unity. I am convinced that the single act of laying down our agendas and painting a fire hydrant brought breakthrough for the spread of God’s Kingdom in our city. It was more than the work itself. It was doing a prophetic act of love toward our city. I have seen the impact of the event through divine appointments with city leaders, community pride, and open hearts for unity. The “capital C” Church, the body of Christ, is coming together to see a move of God. That is always reason enough to do something.
I would encourage all youth pastors to move toward unity in the body. It starts small and God expands it. Only 2 years ago there were about 5 churches that would meet for lunch on a regular basis in the west valley. Now we have as many as 10-12 churches represented. We have to be willing to put aside differences and unite on what we all agree on, the glory of Jesus Christ. Call churches you know and invite their pastors or youth leaders to lunch and share your heart for YOUR city. I think you will be surprised by the response you will receive.