This week we’ve posted several encouraging accounts of new church plants in Greater Salt Lake City. But the bigger story tells how Christian leaders worked together and depended on God to see these happen.
It’s a story about cooperation and collaboration. “The churches of the Restoration Movement had never attempted something like this,” says Steve Edwards.
The collaboration began more than 15 years ago when the Salt Lake City church planting organization asked the Intermountain Church Planters Association based in Boise, Idaho, if they could work together under one name. Edwards became executive director of ICPA 14 years ago.
A ministry team with leaders from five states began seeking God’s will for Salt Lake City: Doug Crozier of Church Development Fund, Irvine, California; Bill Putman of Barnabas Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho; George Johnson of the Christian Evangelistic Association in Seattle, Washington; Jim Penhollow from East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis; and Edwards. Soon Paul Williams from the Orchard Group based in New York joined them.
One of the group’s initiatives was to call Salt Lake City Summit meetings. These three meetings in 2008 and 2009 have involved dozens of church leaders from across the country who prayed and brainstormed about possibilities.
It’s a story about leadership. According to Edwards, one call to Crozier was enough for him to throw his energy behind this project. “It was Doug’s personal commitment and determination, and his friendships with pastors all across the country that gave much of the ‘charge’ to this vision,” Edwards said. (Crozier has since resigned as president of Church Development Fund.)
It’s a story about prayer. Dean Trune of Impact Ministries International led five annual four-day prayer gatherings for the city, starting in 2003. Prayer has been a significant feature of each of the summits mentioned above. And the SLC Project Vision Team is encouraging Christian groups to come pray for Salt Lake City.
It’s a story just beginning. I asked Edwards, “Shouldn’t something similar happen again and again in other areas of our country?”
“We have been dreaming of that from our first meeting in 2008,” he replied.
Meanwhile, leaders are still completing the funding for two of the three church plants described this week. A fourth new church plant is on the drawing board, as well as a multisite church sponsored by Central Christian Church, Las Vegas. And another new church in Ogden as well as a Hispanic church are being considered.
It seems certain this thrilling story won’t be finished anytime soon.