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4 Central Florida

THE STORY

We believe that a unified “ekklesia” (followers of Jesus in our community) is historically the greatest force for good on the earth. And a number of community leaders came together in 2023 with the vision to bring together leaders in the seven major arenas of influence in our community: business, government, church, family, media, arts & entertainment, and education.  Those leading this effort included Krystal Parker with the US Christian Chamber of Commerce,  Dr. George Cope with Vision Orlando, Alan Schutz with LifeWork Leadership, Steve French with LifeWork Global, Bristan and LaTondra Heaven with the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce, Scottie Cahill with FinSec Life, and Jim Subers with Vision Orlando. This started with two days of training and inspiration for about 70 leaders across each sphere of influence.  And it has led to ongoing collaboration together in a city transformation initiative we are calling, “4 Central Florida.

There is a rich meaning in this name:

1) We have a posture of being “For” Central Florida… For its growth, for its peoples, for its

purposes, and that it may thrive. As Jeremiah 29:7 says, we “seek the welfare of our city.”

2) We are committed to Four Key Priorities for any Effective City Transformation:

  • The Great Commandment

  • The Great Compassion

  • The Great Commission

  • The Great Collaboration

1) THE GREAT COMMANDMENT

In Matthew 22, when a Pharisee asks Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him,

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:35-40

To put it simply, when Jesus was asked what the most important aspect of life is, his answer was love: loving God and loving our neighbors. Then, in the upper room, after washing the disciples feet, and following Judas’ departure on his way to betray Jesus, Jesus said this:

“Love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13). And then He continues, “By this all will know that you are My disciples; if you have love for one another.”

To love our neighbor as we love ourselves is one thing, but to love one another as Jesus has loved, that’s some radical love! When this radical love is seen in action amongst Christians, the world is guaranteed to notice that we are following Jesus!

LOVE is the foundation: Love for God, love for others, love for self, and even love for our enemies. The Great Commission and the Great Compassion and the Great Collaboration stem from a life rooted in the Great Commandments. If you love God well, you will do the other three well.

2) THE GREAT COMPASSION

Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” ~ Matthew 25:34-40

Jesus shows us that love is very practical. It means our posture is to serve those on the margins. Individually, all of us are able to give a drink to someone thirsty. Individually, virtually all of us are capable of visiting someone who is sick. However, imagine what is possible when the ekklesia comes together to address the needs in our community? The early church turned the world upside down, and this was their posture. Mark 6:34 tells us:

"When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things."

 

When our heart is united with the Lord’s heart, the great compassion will be part of our everyday life and actions. And when our hearts are united together as an ekklesia and with the Lord’s heart in common, then significant community transformation can happen.

3) THE GREAT COMMISSION

“And Jesus came and spoke to them [the disciples], saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in

heaven and on earth. Go therefore (translated “as you are going”) and make disciples of all the

nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them

to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the

age.’ Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20

We know how foundationally important the Great Commission is for Christians, for it is mentioned in

all four gospels and even the book of Acts!

4) THE GREAT COLLABORATION

Jesus’ prayed for unity in the upper room… John 17:21:

 

“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

 

Once again, the ekklesia united around their love for Jesus is the greatest force for good on the earth. However, the World Christian Encyclopedia says there are 33,000 denominations. The enemy has worked hard to keep us divided and siloed. We must come together around Jesus, and lay aside our differences to transform our culture. Dr. Chenowith at Harvard reports that it only takes 3.5% of culture to transform it. Research shows 65% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians. And the research by the “He Gets Us” team shows that many of these are cultural Christians. However, if even 50% are true followers of Jesus, then this represents ten times the numbers needed to transform the culture.

 

The conclusion to draw from this is that a committed remnant of the ekklesia in any community can transform the culture, if they are willing to put aside their differences and come together around their common love for Jesus. So we are committed to these four great priorities, for we know that transformation of our community will not happen without a commitment to all 4.

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