Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Church Unity in Round Rock

Today, 35 Round Rock pastors met for lunch at the United Heritage Center at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.  On the agenda: how to work collaboratively in the city of Round Rock to share the gospel with the 140,000 people who call our city home.  Mark Westerfield, the pastor of Central Baptist Church, put together the event and invited all the pastors.  Over the last few weeks Mark and I have been praying that God would use today's lunch as a catalyst for future collaboration across denominational and racial lines in our city.  Today, we witnessed a huge answer to that prayer.

The relationships between the pastors in Round Rock have never been stronger.  I am thankful to serve in a city where pastors are serving each other and supporting each other - so much so that we celebrate when other churches do well.  We have learned that being Kingdom-minded pastors means that we live and work in light of the fact that there is only One Church in the city of Round Rock with various local expressions.  This foundational belief allows us to honor our differences while at the same time collaborating around our core faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the last year, pastors in Round Rock have been meeting monthly to pray and seek the Lord together.  We have prayed for each other (our families, our churches, our personal spiritual health, and our city).  As we have prayed, we have sensed that the Lord was preparing our hearts for the next step - working together to declare and demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in our city.  Today, we took the first step in outlining what that collaboration could look like. 

At today's luncheon, I shared with the other pastors what collaboration could look like in three specific areas.  First, we talked about collaborating together relationally for the sake of making sure that we help each other stay strong spiritually.  Pastor Mark did a great job articulating his heart for every pastor in Round Rock: that no pastor in our city is isolated and feels alone in their work, that no pastor in our city fails morally, and that no pastor's family comes apart.  I appreciated Mark's call to all the pastors to be in a PIC-group, to be accountable to other pastors, and to join with other pastors in prayer.

Second, we talked about collaborating together to serve our city in intentional ways - not in the names of our individual churches but in the name of Jesus Christ.  Gary Foran from Gateway Church shared about their experiences in serving the students, parents, and faculty members of RRISD, and then challenged the pastors to imagine a city where every school (especially the underprivileged ones) was adopted by a church family.  Michelle Jackson, the RRISD community-partnership coordinator, also attended our meeting and shared how the pastors could lead their churches to engage the school district in practical ways.  Finally, Josh Cagle from Summit Community Church shared vision to all the pastors about what a unified service weekend would look like.  He suggested that we adopt a weekend where all the churches would get out in the community and meet physical needs.

Third, we talked about collaborating together to support new churches in our city.  We honored some of the new church-planters who have come to Round Rock in the last year and then envisioned what it would look like if the more established churches in our city strategically supported those new works.  Our research has shown that years 2-4 of a plant are the most critical when it comes to determining viability.  What would it look like for stronger churches to support struggling churches in their moment of need?  I made the case that the city of Round Rock needs every church to do well AND new churches to start in order for gospel saturation to become a reality.  In the midst of our discussion on supporting new works, I asked Jeff Whiston to share about how we can best reach the Hispanic community in Round Rock.  He shared some great insights into the growing Hispanic population and what kinds of churches will be needed to impact that demographic.

As we look forward to the next ten years in Round Rock, it is interesting to look back over the last ten.  The 2000 census showed the following make-up of the city of Round Rock:

City Population (including ETJ): 82,000
7.7% African American
2.9% Asian
22% Hispanic
67.4% Caucasian

The 2010 census numbers for Round Rock have just been made public in the last month.  Here is the updated 2010 demographics for Round Rock:

City Population (including ETJ): 141,000
10% African American
5% Asian
29% Hispanic
56% Caucasian

Our city is changing - becoming larger and more diverse every day.  I pray that the unified Church in Round Rock can reach every person, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status, with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for our lunch today.  Your prayers were answered.  Now, please pray for the Spirit to empower the collaborative work that needs to be done and for the lostness of Round Rock to be reduced as the gospel of Jesus Christ is faithfully declared to the glory of God the Father.


Thomas said...

That is great to hear. I will be moving to RR in the next 6 months to start the church planting process and we would love to be a part of this group. It is so great to hear about pastors who are more concerned with God's glory than individual success.

Karen said...

This is such an awesome thing that you pastors are doing. So excited for all of you and your city and what God has planned.