Here at UniteBoston, we love to see churches collaborating together, and we are excited to have Melissa Lowther as our guest blogger this week. Melissa is the Ministry Associate for Discipleship at North Shore Community Baptist Church in Beverly, MA, as well as the coordinator for the North Shore Gospel Partnership – read below to learn about the incredible gospel movement that God is birthing on the North Shore!
About four years ago, five pastors serving on the North Shore of Boston in churches of different denominations gathered together in recognition that the lostness in our area is greater than what we could ever reach on our own. God’s heart is that the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:4). Currently, less than 3% of the people in Essex County have a living, authentic relationship with Jesus. We knew that if we kept doing things the way we were doing them, we would not see that number significantly increase. If we continued focusing simply on building our individual churches, we could all triple in size and still not even be close to seeing the landscape of our area transformed by Christ.
The North Shore Gospel Partnership
We knew we needed to be working together if we wanted to see a movement of God on the North Shore that would result in thousands of people meeting Jesus, growing as disciples, serving in gospel-centered churches, and living on mission every day. As the North Shore Gospel Partnership formed and began talking about what we can do better together than separately, three specific areas surfaced: mobilizing prayer, developing leaders, and starting & strengthening churches.
No revival or awakening in history has ever taken place without kingdom-centered, corporate, bold, prevailing prayer. About two years ago, we began Scattered Prayer, where we reserved locations on a specific night in public spaces (libraries, town halls, etc.) across the North Shore and encouraged our church members to attend the prayer gathering closest to them. As we prayed in our towns for our towns, Christians who attend different churches but live in close proximity to one another came together to seek God for his Spirit to move in our neighborhoods. As the season of Scattered Prayer has come to an end, we are now working toward establishing 24/7 prayer for the North Shore.
We have also partnered together in praying for the foster care system in our region. As we’ve been praying weekly over the last year, God has raised up more Christian families who are opening their homes to foster children or stepping up to support other families who are fostering. The Department of Children and Families office near us has started noticing this shift and relying on local churches for support and care. Praise be to God!
Our instinct as leaders is to jump into action. However, the North Shore Gospel Partnership has found it essential to take time to clarify our process for action-taking. We have been receiving coaching from Christ Together – a national organization that helps mobilize the greater body of Christ for mission in cities across North America – on establishing a common lens for how we approach saturating our area with the gospel. We held a two-part Gospel Saturation Conference early in 2019 that enabled us to cast this vision more broadly to church leaders across the North Shore. As we grow in defining our common vision, we are now able to consider other practical initiatives that will help us build up disciples and leaders in our area.
Starting & Strengthening Churches
Renewal in our region will only take place if we are multiplying disciples, developing leaders, and planting and revitalizing churches. Our hope in the coming years is to establish a residency program where potential church planters and revitalizers can be raised up from within our churches, receive targeted training and experience, and be sent out and supported by a partnership of churches seeking to see God’s Kingdom expand.
As more churches continue to partner in a desire to see the North Shore saturated by the gospel, pray with us that God would be increasing our burden for the lost and building up his church so that every person around us will have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.