The Heart of Christ in The Heart of The City
Text: Jeremiah 29:1-7; 1 Peter 2:11-12 | Listen to Message
By Easter 2019, Grace City will be a thriving, Gospel-driven Church that embodies and shares the heart of Christ in the heart of downtown Denver. Between now and then, we will continue to worship, grow, and serve as a Church – while being strategic and intentional about forming a committed, missional core group to re-plant Grace City in the new “home” where God has led us.
Downtown Denver is undergoing a mass-scale metamorphosis right now. Physically, construction cranes dominate the skyline everywhere you turn. Philosophically, there’s been a shift in thinking and urban planning that encourages and rewards a walkable lifestyle. Culturally, RiNo and Union Station and LoHi are animated by a youthful, artistic and entrepreneurial energy. But spiritually, people are as broken as ever. Many are enslaved to the drugs they inject into their veins; others are just as addicted to the idols of individualism, autonomy, and success. Whether rich or poor, black or white, liberal or conservative, Millennial or Boomer, people are searching for something that will satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts. We believe that something is actually a someone: Jesus Christ.
Okay, so there’s a massive need and an unprecedented opportunity for the Gospel. But why us?
Over the past couple years we’ve preached through Luke and Acts. Time and again we’ve seen Jesus’ heart for lost, broken people – and a particular strategy to minister grace to as many of them as possible through a city-centric movement of the Gospel. As we studied and meditated on these books, prayed over them, applied them practically to our lives, and surrendered to the Spirit’s guidance, He closed a lot of doors and opened a few others. Over time – and with much counsel – we saw that His Word, the needs of our City, the providence of our circumstances, and the godly desires of our hearts were all aligned: We needed to be a City-Center Church. We drew up a list of priorities of what we needed in a building and we started looking in some new neighborhoods.
Out of the blue, a broker called me (Matt) and asked if we were interested in taking a look at 1075 Park Avenue West. This was intriguing for at least three reasons: 1) We hadn’t informed any broker we were looking for space; 2) I’d had my eye on this property for a couple years because of its strategic location at the confluence of Park Avenue, Broadway, and Arapahoe; and 3) I was two blocks away when he called. We met the broker an hour or two later . . . and the rest is history. On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Marti and I closed on this property. Over the next 9 months, this gorgeous historic building will be transformed into one of the region’s premiere events venues, a community-minded coffeehouse, and a permanent home for Grace City.
Make no mistake: the Church is not a building; it is people who are loving, enjoying, and following Jesus Christ on mission. But we are beyond thrilled to have our own urban “home base” right smack in the middle of the business and cultural centers of our City.
What’s Going To Change?
In one sense, we aren’t going to change our theology. We are a solidly Orthodox, Gospel-driven Church. Our mission is to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ. Our core values are gospel-centeredness, rule of Scripture, authentic community, continuing transformation, and engagement. None of that will change. That said, we’re constantly in self-evaluation mode – asking God to show us where we’re weak, or missing something, or flat-out wrong. We are determined to submit our lives to the Word of God, even where that means repenting and changing.
In Center Church, Timothy Keller describes 4 ministry “fronts” where we must be engaged as a missional church in the City:
- Connect people to God (evangelism, worship).
- Connect people to one another (community, discipleship).
- Connect people to the city (mercy, justice).
- Connect people to the culture (integration of faith & work).
This is where you’ll probably recognize some of the most immediate change. While we love expository preaching and will continue to lean heavily on that particular approach to Scripture in the future, we want to equip our core group for life/work/ministry in the City by taking a more topical approach to some areas of weakness. So in the coming months, there will be both preaching and “electives” on topics like:
- How to share your faith effectively.
- How to disciple and counsel others with the Gospel.
- How to integrate faith and work.
- How to embrace unity in the midst of diversity.
- How to both affirm and confront the City winsomely.
So the biggest change many of you will notice (besides the move itself) will be the degree of intentionality with which we equip you and challenge you. Half-hearted, culturally-compromised, consumer Christians will not reach the City for Christ. We must be eager to grow in what it looks like to embody and share the heart of Jesus.
How Can You Participate?
We need people who are present, active, and all in.
Are you eager to learn, grow, and be renewed by the Gospel so that Christ can use you to impact countless others in an urban environment? Will you allow us to be a flexible, spontaneous, risk-taking Church? Are you committed to the unity of Christ’s body and will you speak highly of other churches and ministries who are also doing Gospel work in the City – even if they’re doing it very differently? Will you be fierce and passionate about Jesus and grace and love and the local church? Will you be radically generous and embrace both risk and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel?
Finally, will you partner with us spiritually, financially, and/or personally?
Pray: Please add us to your personal or Church prayer list! We’ve been cautioned that we’re walking into a stronghold of Satan. Broadway and Park Avenue has been a place of spiritual darkness for decades. We’re not so foolish as to think he’s afraid of us, but the Adversary is no match for our Christ – so we pray He goes before and beside us to scatter His enemies and transform lives. Our weapons are the same as His: good news, mercy, and justice.
Give: Our financial needs associated with this re-plant are immense. In order to establish a base of Gospel operations in the heart of the City, we need a 7-figure chunk of cash up front plus monthly support like we’ve never seen before. We trust the Lord to provide, but would you be a source of that provision? Would you partner with us right now by making a one-time or recurring tax-deductible gift either online (note that 3% fees are deducted from online donations) or by mail (P.O. Box 202316, Denver, CO 80220)? Will you please share our needs with your networks so that many can partner together with us in what God’s about to do in Denver?
Join Us: We’ve got dozens and dozens of locals who are committed to partnering with us in this Gospel mission, and Redeemer City to City has also recently elected to partner with us. But we’re still looking to partner with many more individuals and churches who share our heart for the City. If you or someone you know might be interested, shoot me an email and let’s grab lunch and start a conversation.