Imagine a new communion of multiethnic churches committed to discipleship and church planting
Written by Harry R. Jackson
Some days in your life will forever rest in your memory. I think back to August 2004 in London. I was sitting at a table as a guest of one of my gospel heroes, pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, a church planter, author and major student of church growth worldwide. He had invited me to participate in Europe's largest Christian conference.
During those years the BBC, The Times of London and every national media outlet had "discovered" this faithful servant of God; as a result, Pastor Matthew had become something of a celebrity in the cultural landscape there. I'll never forget reading the headline "African missionary to England leads U.K.'s largest church."
He and I talked about the fact that at the time, only 5 percent of England's population was committed to both faithful church attendance and a biblical worldview. We marveled at the idea that a nation, which had been mightily used to take the gospel to the ends of the known world during its "heyday," would now not allow the preaching of the gospel and Spirit-led ministry to be aired on regular television.
In fact, it was more acceptable for Britain's government to give deference to non-Christian faiths than to Christians. Within a few years of that discussion, my friend would be wrongly persecuted by Britain's version of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and his church would be forced to sell its primary facilities.
While we were there, in a moment of amazing, almost spiritual clarity, several of my key ministry partners and Pastor Matthew discussed the need for the church worldwide to rise up as a prophetic voice to all the major capitol cities of the world. Little did I know that in approximately 60 days, I would begin to speak to national media outlets about the country's current moral and political issues.
In a 30-day period, I was involved in 56 major interviews about "the new black church" and how biblical righteousness and justice must be embraced by a racially reconciled church. I began to declare and predict that the Christian community would be extremely instrumental in determining the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. The New York Daily News was bold enough to carry my opinion piece, and in November my conviction was proved accurate.
Since that milestone year, we have founded the High Impact Leadership Coalition to work on issue advocacy in the political realm. I've also attempted to work in small ways to bring a unified agenda to the black, white and Hispanic branches of the church. Although I have helped block as well as promoted many pieces of legislation, I realize that this generation of church planters and urban missionaries need fathers and a place where they can connect with other leaders, while collectively making a difference in the culture.
To that end, I recently founded a new communion of churches called the International Communion of Evangelical Churches. Imagine a multiracial, multiethnic spiritual family dedicated to discipling the intellectual elite of the nations by planting 1,000 churches and discipling 5 million souls by 2022. We plan to put together an army of church-planting teams and evangelistically minded individuals who will start by reaching the Ivy League schools, progressively taking the "mountains" of media and government.
If you and/or your movement are interested in working with us or following our model, we're just an email or phone call away. More than 1,000 local churches have already committed to begin this transformational journey with us.
By the way, Pastor Matthew's work, like the early church, has flourished under pressure. He has relocated his headquarters, planted several significant churches in the United Kingdom and internationally, and raised up a university in Nigeria—all while still conducting the largest Christian conference in Europe.
Bishop HARRY R. JACKSON JR. serves as senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in the Washington, D.C., area and also as a regional bishop in the Fellowship of International Churches. He also recently formed the International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC), a church network overseeing more than 1,000 congregations worldwide.
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