Will Chicago Get the Bid for the 2016 Olympics?
Over 2000 churches in Chicago are being asked to partner strategically in a project to be coordinated with the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. We will know the decision regarding the Olympics and Chicago in October of 2009 when the announcement is made in Denmark. However, we have been presented an opportunity to come together as the churches of Chicago in a citywide initiative asking God for this major evangelistic outreach. And we have been given the time to do the hard work of preparation and prayer to make this outreach effective.
We know God is working all the time around us and when we are in prayer, seeking His direction on our lives, we can align ourselves with what He is already doing. No greater joy can be experienced in the life of His people when they are in the center of His will and when we see lost people make a life-changing decision for Jesus.
We are looking for creative support, which will empower a new experience for evangelism over the next years. Any projects we undertake must be diverse in approach to unify the multi-cultural heritage we enjoy in Chicago. Language and culture must be respected for the people from the many nations of the world, which are found in this city.
What Will Happen
Some estimates are that the Olympics in Chicago will draw 30-million visitors to the city. Airlines are applying for new routes to Olympic participants' countries expecting a swell of business. The 20,000 participants and 16,000 press will begin arriving weeks before the Olympic Games to prepare for events. The city is spending millions to get the games.
Chicago's infrastructure will increase as to the number of taxicabs, service employees and construction. All of the many stakeholders who will want to be part of the events will add to the numbers. The buzz on the street is already growing and will become everyday conversation.
We are seeing a rise in the use of public transportation as gas prices skyrocket, and that usage will only grow as the prospect of an Olympic torch is raised in Chicago. More trains and faster trains are on the drawing board to cinch the city bid.
With about 100,000 available hotel rooms, Chicago will fall short and we will have an opportunity to offer short-term housing in homes and churches for visitors to the city. What an opportunity to share your faith.
No Centralized Campaign
Dwight Moody held many small meetings during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in three zones; north, south and west of the Chicago River. Metro Chicago has now grown to a size greater than 4000 square miles and participation would be expected from Gary to Kankakee and from Rockford to Milwaukee.
People from 200 language groups will be coming to Chicago for the games. Chicago is the only candidate which is representative of these language groups and has the primary infrastructure in place to accommodate the activities. Our diversity is singular in the world.
One thing we have learned is that the geography of the city is difficult. Major evangelistic revival meetings with a 'big name speaker' will not be the model for this outreach in Chicago.
PrayTheLoop is a cooperative initiative, which will reach into the secular culture and demonstrate our love for each other, the city and for sharing the Good News. Lay people will be led by their pastors to pray. "What unspeakable grace to pray to God in intercession for the needs of a city and the world!" Evangelism is not church growth and is not just the work of professionals. Growth is an important priority in each congregation but now, can we move out of the building and share the greatest story ever told with those who have never heard.
Only 5% of young people will every step inside of a Christian church. Sunday morning attendance in evangelical churches today has flat lined and in many denominations, the growth pattern is negative. The fact is that if we assume that we will reach the growing population in the world through the church, we are mistaken.
Now we must pray and prepare. Moody Church has been praying since 2007 for ' the event of the century.' Many churches and groups have been meeting for prayer for years, 'weeping over the city.' There are already prayer groups praying for the Olympics in churches and businesses all over Chicago.
What Does It Look Like
Our efforts will include a global web presence, which would attract interest from around the world. The website would focus on the Olympic interest and tell the stories of Christian athletes in many languages. Chicago churches would be linked with other churches, colleges and evangelism websites around the world.
Technology will be quite different in 2016. Eight years is like a 100 of the years of the past. Young people will use texting and 'always-on' communication rather than email. Social networking will be common, and we will no longer be bound to a stationary computer. All of the wonders of the Internet will be available in our hands and perhaps as part of our peripheral vision as wireless comes of age. 'Push technology' by zip code and perhaps even by neighborhood will re-created marketing. You can now look at your house and your neighbors through the use of Google street view. RFID tags will be everywhere.
MOBS will come together for prayer and for instant communications; sites will link those who support evangelism and Christian ministry; the norm will be online resources, on-demand video and direct communication. Print-On-Demand materials will be common as traditional printed matter and media will continue to fade.
Reverse the Flow
The most promising potential benefit of the entire outreach is to reverse the flow of ministry so that it bubbles up from below and does not depend on a flow down from the top.
The sad fact is that only a small fraction of believers are active in ministry and most members of churches have no interest in becoming involved at all. The good news is that a large percentage would say yes, if someone would ask them to serve. The role of leadership is to empower people. Spiritual leadership introduces people to a saving knowledge of Jesus and the infilling of the power of the Holy Spirit. Far to many remain 'parked in the pews' because they are never released to share that message with others.
If God's people can capture the vision of what He is already doing in Chicago churches and individual lives, we can be empowered to live lives that are changed. God is faithful in all that we are willing to give him. What we hold back and refuse to give to God is what drags us down.
In spite of the opposition we face today, God is confirming His church and empowering His people to make evangelism their lifestyle. We should use this opportunity to demonstrate respect for others who serve the Lord and build up each other's dignity as we share the truth of the gospel.
I am looking for churches that connect with this vision and join us at the table from the beginning. In order to have wide support of the outreach idea, each participating church will need to make the decision to become involved in the prayer initiative and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the level of effort to which the church is called.
===> Check out http://www.BlessYourBlock.org for a creative strategy to get your congregation out of their seats and into the streets ...
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