by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
On June 10, 2011, the International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC)—a new communion of churches—was formed. This confederation has been organized by a multi-racial and multi-cultural group of churches to address the problems that blight the urban landscape, both in the U.S. and around the world.
Our vision is to raise up churches with a mission to transform the cultures in which they operate. Our historic model is the work of John Wesley and others who created a movement that eventually came to be known as the Great Awakening. While remaining true to the biblical mandate to win souls and to care for the poor, our confederation of like-minded, independent churches will collaborate and deploy resources to transform their cities, states and nations.
In addition to prioritizing relevant, evangelical preaching designed stir a back-to-the-Bible movement in the U.S., the communion will also speak out on cultural trends and public policy issues of the day. In the spirit of John Wesley and the first Great Awakening, it is imperative that the church transcends race and politics to address the pivotal issues we face as a society.
Too often the church in America has been guilty of taking a very myopic view when addressing the issues of righteousness and justice. On one hand, the "Christian Right" has focused on personal, moral or righteousness issues, while dismissing issues regarding biblical justice. On the other hand, a great number of African-American and minority-led churches have been mostly vocal on issues pertaining to biblical justice, poverty and civil rights, while being absent on those relating to righteousness.
The church in America is too divided and is in desperate need of racial reconciliation. Therefore, a strong visual demonstration of unity is required to speak to the world—"The church of Jesus Christ has been called forth under God from every nation tribe and tongue to be one with Him." Jesus clearly stated this visual demonstration of oneness in the church would indelibly mark the psyche of an irreligious world and prove to humanity that God indeed sent Jesus into the earth.
The ICEC will merge with several networks of Christian organizations and ministries from around to world to become, in a pragmatic sense, a network of networks. This new wineskin will provide a clear vision, practical strategic plan and straightforward message for dealing with the issues of righteousness and justice around the world.
We believe we can win and disciple more than 5 million souls around the globe during the next 10 years. We also believe that we can plant 1,000 church-planting congregations during the next decade. This shall be accomplished through four methods; church planting, friendship evangelism, international crusades and media outreaches.
The plight of urban America is of utmost importance to this communion. This reformation will implement strategies from urban ministries and churches bearing proven track records, but we will also create new structures and agencies to deal with specific issues that plague our cities.
1. Our moral standard for Christian and governmental leaders will follow principles of biblical holiness. We will hold each other accountable as well as those working with us to maintain these standards.
2. Our economic standard will engage the entrepreneurial spirit of young people which exists in the bedrock of our nation. We will train and mentor inner city youth and adults to build skills and create new business enterprises. We will do this in order to provide entrepreneurs rather than laborers and employers rather than employees. We will teach investment principles and increase the wealth in our cities.
3. Our standard for young men is high. We want to establish a mentoring program where men who are distinguished in the community can transfer their skills to the next generation. This will directly affect the recidivism of urban males in prison. This will also leave a legacy that can establish the future of urban citizens over the long term.
4. Our standard for education addresses the problems distinct to our cities. We recognize the old panaceas don't work. We will open educational opportunities, creating the best environment for training the minds of urban America. We will provide innovation teaching tools, so young people can accomplish what they are gifted to do. We will promote any positive means to accomplish this, including vouchers, charter schools, private funding, scholarships and grants.
5. Our standard for families is based on our belief that the nuclear family is the basic foundation for all society. This family consists of one man and woman united in marriage, raising children together as a loving unit. We will teach fathers how to be loving and supportive husbands as well as engaged fathers. We will educate women and mentor them so they can learn to be supportive and loving wives and nurturing mothers. We will increase our efforts toward creating the community and people God has ordained us to be from the beginning of time.
The Lord has brought together a group of seven men who will create a community of people reflecting the values of the early church while being firmly anchored in the 21st century.
It is possible to change the fabric of America by walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Learn more about the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. is the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, a 3,000-member congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. He also serves as a regional bishop for the Fellowship of International Churches. Additionally, Bishop Jackson is the founder and president of High Impact Leadership Coalition, which seeks to protect the moral compass of the nation by educating and empowering churches, as well as community and political leaders. Bishop Jackson has authored numerous books, including In-laws, Outlaws and the Functional Family; The Warrior's Heart; The Way of the Warrior; High Impact African-American Churches, Personal Faith, Public Policy; and The Truth In Black & White.
Bishop Jackson is the guest editor of the January-February 2012 issue of Ministry Today. This article was previously published by townhall.com.