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Made To Flourish — Our National Mission

Since the inception of Christ Community, we have had a mission statement that has guided us. Our mission is to be a caring family of multiplying disciples influencing our community and world for Jesus Christ. At the heart of our local church mission is the catalytic multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches. The advancement of this mission has been incredible to see as our multisite congregation continues to have a growing influence in our city and around the globe. While we have long desired to play a catalytic role around our nation, we have not had the strategic opportunity until Made to Flourish was birthed two years ago.

Even though Made to Flourish is still very much in its entrepreneurial stage, I am delighted how God is already blessing our new national mission in amazing ways. As I have the joy of interacting with members of our Christ Community church family, many share both their excitement about Made to Flourish as well as their desire to learn more about our new national mission.

Let me address five of the most common questions I am asked about Made to Flourish.

What Is the Mission of Made to Flourish?

The mission of Made to Flourish is to train and equip pastors in both spiritual wholeness and  pastoral effectiveness with a focus on whole-life discipleship that connects Sunday faith with Monday work. The heart of our mission is geared toward clergy renewal leading to congregational flourishing and broad cultural impact. Our mission is animated by a deep and unwavering conviction that the local church, as Christ designed it, is truly the hope of the world.

How Did Made to Flourish Begin?  

Made to Flourish was birthed as an institutional partnership between Christ Community and The Kern Family Foundation in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The Kern Family Foundation believed that Christ Community was uniquely positioned to give leadership to a national initiative geared to clergy and local church renewal. An extensive period of exploration by the leadership of both institutions occurred over a one-year period. A strong sense of God’s direction led to formalizing this partnership and launching a national pastors network in May 2015.

How Is Made to Flourish Organized and Funded?

Made to Flourish was created as a separate non-profit organization, with our national office being established in Kansas City. The board of directors includes both members of The Kern Family Foundation and Christ Community. I serve in a dual role both as the President of Made to Flourish and Senior Pastor of Christ Community. This means that 60% of my time is invested in my leadership role at Christ Community and 40% of my time is invested in my leadership role at Made to Flourish. Our Made to Flourish executive leadership team is comprised of Matt Rusten as the executive director, Kevin Harlan as the vice president of philanthropy, and myself as the president. Our initial funding has come from The Kern Family Foundation, but we are actively pursuing other funding sources that will expand our national reach and move us toward being self-sustaining in the long-term.

What Progress Has Been Made in Our First Two Years?

We presently have eight full-time staff members. Our national network is made up of 1,679 pastors, representing 1,403 different churches and organizations. We have city directors located in 19 cities and look to increase this number by five cities in 2018. Another major initiative will be pastoral residencies. Just as we have modeled at Christ Community, we hope to see a “teaching hospital” approach replicated in other venues. This takes a good deal of time to do well, but enthusiasm is building. In fact, we have just made out first grant to a church in Florida.

We are developing resources for both pastoral and congregational leadership by sponsoring webinars, seminars, virtual workshops, and more. We have written and posted an ebook, Discipleship with Monday in Mind. My latest book, The Economics of Neighborly Love, will be released in September 2017.

How Can I Help Advance Our Made to Flourish Mission?

As a member of the Christ Community family, you have already played a vital role in Made to Flourish as we have worked together to launch this new endeavor. Let me suggest a few ways you can continue to be involved.

First, be informed about what is happening with Made to Flourish.

Second, pray regularly for God’s protection and favor on our staff and the pastors in our network.

Third, be an ambassador of Made to Flourish. Tell others in your sphere of influence about Made to Flourish. Let other pastors and churches know about what God is doing through this movement.

Fourth, attend our national conference, Common Good 2017, which will be held in Kansas City on October 13. CG2017 will be simulcast in 18 cities (Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati/Dayton, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, Madison, Miami, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Research Triangle, Richmond, Seattle, Twin Cities, Washington, D.C.). We will also host an additional Spanish speaking venue in Los Angeles.

I am grateful for you and for the good work we have been called to embrace with prayerful expectancy and wholehearted obedience. It is a joy serving with you.

Royal Reflections

Like many in our city and around the nation, I have been missing a good deal of sleep during the Royals run to the World Series championship. While my body is a bit fatigued and my nerves still frayed, my mind and heart are basking in the joy of watching a baseball team that is not only worth cheering, but emulating in life.

Dayton Moore, Ned Yost and the entire coaching staff are to be commended for creating a team culture that brought out the best in everyone. While the Royals are a very talented bunch, I believe what made this team extra special was how they loved. It seems to me the Royals got their loves rightly ordered. First, they loved their work. Dayton Moore and his staff very intentionally put a team on the field that loved playing baseball. Many of them exuded the contagious passion of a group of teenagers playing little league baseball. Yes, the Royals received large paychecks for their work, but more than merely putting money in the bank, they loved putting the ball in play on the field. Second, they loved the teammates they worked with. Relief pitcher Chris Young said it well when asked about the Royals stunning success. This veteran pitcher who had seen much of the good, the bad and the ugly of professional baseball looked the interviewer in the eye and with a breaking smile the size of his breaking ball Chris Young said, “the guys love each other.”  Third, the Royals loved the fans that kept pouring into Kauffman stadium cheering them on to some amazing comeback victories. With the Royals the game was never over until the very last out. The fans fed the players optimism and fueled their confidence that they would ultimately prevail.

It is no secret that I love the game of baseball, but I also love these amazing Royals because they have taught me so much about life. Not that life is about winning some prestigious championship or achieving notable success as wonderful as that may be, but that life is about loving rightly. So I have been thinking, do I really love the work God has called me to do? Do I truly love those God has called me to work with everyday? And do I gratefully love family members, friends and encouragers in my life who cheer me on to be all that God has created me to be and do in this broken and needy world?

As a church family on mission together, let’s not only enjoy the Royals amazing run to a World Series championship, let’s also take heart to what they have taught us about loving rightly.

CG2015 Through a Foreigner’s Eyes

IMG_3617_NewGuest blog by Marta Vergara

Being part of the CG2015 organizing team, and as the conference approached, I kept telling myself: “I’m never doing this again!” Who would know a two-day conference was so much work? But when the event ended last Saturday, still exhausted, I thought: “Let’s do this again!”

Being a Hispanic immigrant in the US has made the gospel bigger and brighter for me. It’s still the same gospel, but for some reason, the comfort of my privilege while living in Spain (my home country) didn’t allow me to see it under this light. Let me elaborate.

You could say I’ve been a Christian all my life, and still, some of the realities of the gospel were for me little more than idealistic calendar phrases. But really, how unbelievably amazing is that God, in all his glory, became an outcast from an ill-reputed city in an ill-reputed region from a woman who was rumored to have conceived out of wedlock? How deliciously non-plausible is it that the savior of the world spent his non-glamorous life surrounded by lepers, prostitutes, and unpatriotic tax-collectors? How can we walk our Christian life in order to be faithful to a God with a criminal record that earned him the death sentence? It is that sacrifice that enables us to uncomfortably and counter-culturally live for others.

That’s what Brian Fikkert and the rest of our speakers tried to convey in a day and a half of talks at CG2015. Not an easy task. Starting the conversation about God’s mandate to collaborate together for the flourishing of our city is just the first step. But we can’t talk enough about the common good, first, because it’s at the very core of the gospel, and second, because we as a church have been silent for too long. Let’s love our neighbors as ourselves. Not with a love that’s the passive absence of hate, but with an active sacrificial one, like the love we profess to God, like the love he showed for us. At the conference we got to see and hear examples of leaders putting this kind of active love into practice all around the city and beyond. It was hard not to get excited about the possibilities of entering into this calling to love our neighbors together.

If you missed CG2015, or even if you were there but you want to revisit the talks, we’ll make them available soon. It won’t be the same as live, surrounded by people passionated about the same issues, and being able to network and share experiences, but at least, these materials will give you food for thought.

We’ll keep you posted as the resources are available. Meanwhile, as a foretaste, you can watch the videos of some of our partners: Mission Adelante, The Hope Center, and The Global Orphan Project. Enjoy!

Yours,

Marta, an immigrant