Our mission is to encourage and help engage people of faith who stand ready to give of themselves in their unique area of giftedness, life experiences, and passion. We encourage these servant leaders to join the efforts of one or more of our non-profit community partners operating in their respective area of interest and among other believers who are uniting together to have impact! It was Jesus who said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
In addition to helping people of faith become engaged in service, we have learned there are many non-profit executives who are missional leaders, but who don’t have all the business and organizational skills to effectively lead their 501(c)3 organization and who need help! After spending the necessary time to understand the needs and strategic priorities of these partnering organizations, we draw from our network in all of the varied disciplines to assist these executives (and their Board of Directors) to put in place the necessary action steps to help strengthen and insure sustainability. By doing this, this creates a higher likelihood that volunteers who choose to serve in these respective organizations find fulfillment and stay involved much longer!
Our vision for Little Rock is a city where the ideals of our faith are lived out through service - in a way that is real . . . authentic . . . and transforming. And not just transforming for those we might serve, but transforming for us as individuals and transforming for all of us as a community. Our dream is for a city where the evangelical church is re-awakening to its other side - the “proof” side of proclaiming the gospel message. After all, Christianity was always meant to be more than a set of beliefs.
There is always tremendous inertia in a church to be “internally focused.” It will be our goal to work with church leaders to encourage their church members to think of ministries that build bridges into our city rather than building walls around their existing membership. What if we prioritized much of what we do in our church communities toward helping to prepare and equip people not only for personal growth, but also for personal impact?
To highlight this point, consider this quote by Howard Synder in his book, Liberating the Church (Downers Grove, IL. Inter-Varsity Press, 1983):
“When Christians catch a vision of the Kingdom of God, their sight shifts to the poor, the orphan, the widow, the refugee, the wretched of the earth, to God’s future – to the concerns of justice, mercy, and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church. Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church. Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.”
And our efforts will not rest until every leading helping agency in our city has all the partners they need and where people’s lives are being transformed (both givers and receivers).
In practice, the network functions as a 360 degree cooperative where network partners both contribute toward the success of others in the network, and receive direct and tangible support from the network as such needs arise. On behalf of all these leaders and organizations, the City Connections leadership team focuses on these broad objectives:
Creating the opportunity to convene leaders from across our community to consider and take action on important issues facing our communities with the goal of improving the quality of life for everyone who live in this great city;
Creating the opportunity to invite and engage people of faith into these conversations and into the non‐profit organizations who need both perspective and support;
Strengthening the capabilities and capacity of the leaders and the non-profit charitable organizations in our relational network.
Our team believes these three priorities provide the spirit and direction needed to nurture, empower, and unite the network . . . and they provide the motivation that leads the network to action. Our focus then is to pursue these objectives in four main ways:
Intentionally building relational connections among the people and organizations of our city;
Convening community partners around common cause issues with a purpose of action;
Providing collaborative leadership (when needed) on certain essential community projects;
Walking with our community partners on matters of ministry, strategy, structure and development - and providing professional support for important organizational functions
Have you ever taken a vacation on a cruise ship? If you have, you know that beyond being rocked into a peaceful relaxation by the ocean waters, there is a calming and transforming effect on the 3,000+ guests that has been carefully orchestrated by the 1,100+ crewmen that are well-schooled on providing the highest level of customer service that marks the whole “cruise experience.”
Is it possible that the church of Jesus Christ can transform the cities across our nation by a revolutionary kind of service that the people in our communities have never experienced? Is the church in Little Rock recognized as being caring and compassionate? Do you believe the church can help transform our city?
People who have grown up in generational poverty or who been beaten down by life or who have experienced injustice at the hands of others sometimes have a difficult time believing that God is good. Amazing though it is, the church is God’s plan for helping these people come to believe that God is good! And God doesn’t have another plan. It was Jesus who said:
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
We’ve got to make it believable! Though this is no small task, God is calling for leaders who will rise to this challenge. But if we are going to accomplish anything of significance, we must align ourselves with many others who share a common vision and we must spend enough time working together to forge a wonderful collaboration . . . a movement that cannot be denied that it is from God!
Thessalonica was a central city in the province of Macedonia. But their faith and reputation went way beyond those borders and extended over into Achaia (where Corinth was a leading city). Notice what Paul says about the believers in Thessalonica:
- “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”
- “You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-8)