I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
// Matthew 16:18
I have to confess: I really love the church. There is nothing quite like it on the planet. People can criticize it, belittle it, gossip about it, walk away from it and disregard it, but I have not found anything in life that comes close to the church. Maybe this is because, for the most part, I’ve had wonderful church experiences.
I have been part of Christian City Church, or “C3”, every day of my life. I was in essence born into it. My parents joined two weeks after the first one was pioneered in 1980, by Pastors Phil and Chris Pringle. I was part of the first C3 Church in America, planted by my parents in Long Island, NY in 1989. I preached my first message when I was 11, at C3 Kids Church in NY. Georgie and I led youth ministries together at C3 Sydney. We pioneered a young adult ministry that sparked other young adult ministries across the globe, and there have been many other things God has given us the privilege of being involved in.
I share all of this not to gloat, but to say that I love the church. There have been many opportunities to be offended, to give up, to walk away and to shrink back. But something deep within me just keeps calling me deeper. Many men and women have illuminated that call to go deeper with their prayers and prophetic words, for which I am eternally grateful, and without those moments I would not be here. But all the while, there is a voice within me that is stronger than any human voice, calling me deeper into His body; to sacrifice, to give, to serve, to lead, to pray, to preach the gospel, all for the purpose of building His Kingdom through His church.
I have never seen anything on the planet bring such transformation, life, hope, love, support, faith, significance, identity, or freedom like the church. Maybe my experience is different from yours. But my experience could be your experience. Maybe the church could be different than what you have known it to be; if we all stepped out in faith and trusted God’s original intent of what the Church was meant to be, this could be all of our experience. Maybe as your view of the church changes, others in NYC will experience church and be shocked with the love, a sense of family, honesty, authentic community, hope and life that flows from the church.
I have to confess: I believe this is possible for this city, and for this great nation called America. I believe the church is the hope of the world. If no one else wants to agree with me I would be disappointed, but I would still hold onto the belief that the church is the answer, simply because of the One who is the head of the church, Jesus Christ.
We are calling on everyone reading this to dare to believe that, by giving your all for His church, we will see countless lives changed in this city and beyond. And not just for now, but also for generations to come.
I believe it. Because God said it and promised it. The church is His people.
I confess: I love the church.
// Josh Kelsey