LTM's steps to transformation are based upon the insights and hopes of those who have experienced the first fruits in the mission of Christian unity and community transformation. No single mission organization or congregation can complete the work on their own. Prayer and humility will come first. On the heels of this follows the initial evidence of trusting relationships between pastors, christian leaders, and congregations within the community. A relationship network in addition to any denominational or institutional structures develops. As trust is established in places where there once was none, bridges are built. Innovative leaders from business, education, and government are inspired to join with the renewed Christian community to build collaborative ministries that address the spiritual and social roots affecting families in their community. Over time the culture is changed. These transformative partnerships demonstrate that we have learned there is a place in Christ where we can hold on to our distinctives while demonstrating true fellowship, leadership and effective compassion.
Brief Description of the Transformation Levels
- Relationship Building – For the most part, local churches are initally unfamiliar with each other. Apart from how it may affect the success of our own mission, we don’t take the time to develop a deep understanding of what God is doing in the other. This creates a largely disconnected community that can't effectively work together towards important tasks. However, loving, caring relationships should be the core identity of the Church. John 13:35 At the relationship level, LTM seeks to introduce the diverse Christian groups to each other, hoping to nurture an appreciation and concern for one another’s mission. Prayer meetings, luncheons or responsive actions all become opportunities for us to learn about each other and discover a broader vision for a geographically related Body of Christ. I Cor. 12:27
- Reconciliation – Relationship building leads to trust. LTM seeks ways to build bridges of trust between Pastors, between city and suburban congregations, or between people of differing socio-economic backgrounds. We believe these bridges of trust will lead us to see our diverse experiences, ethnicities, social status and doctrines as strengths for the Body of Christ. Furthermore, such bridge building brings us to a place of confidence to confront any sin that undergirds the walls between us. We begin to pursue biblical reconciliation, the chief privilege of the church II. Cor. 5:18-19 As reconciliation becomes a priority, we discover that our individual and organizational strengths and resources were meant to be shared in ways that contradict the self preservation practices of the world.
- Renewal of the Church – The practice of biblical reconciliation exposes the shortcomings of the current church culture, or what Rev. Mark Oliver, one of our founders described as "Church-ianity." Instead of Sunday at 11:00 a.m. being the most segregated hour of the week, a renewed Body of Christ is confronted with a bigger mission than our own congregation can handle. We learn to consider new opportunities to worship and evangelize together. The words of Jesus take on new meaning regarding the growth of the church: “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21. This provokes a desire to change the social habits and structures that prohibit a functional unity in the Body of Christ.
- Revitalization of the Community – This is the step that take the quiet revolution outside the four walls of the building. When God’s people change the way of "doing church" in a community, both evangelism and justice come to the forefront of their witness. A passion for working towards the highest purposes of all people encourages a united Body of Christ to have an indigenous, compassionate presence that seasons the community with the gospel of Jesus. Matt. 5:13 With the same wisdom of Nehemiah who revitalized the walls of Jerusalem, a renewed Body of Christ understands that to the degree they seek God for the peace and prosperity of the place they reside, is the degree to which they will contribute to its prosperity Jer. 29:7
- Revival in the Community – The creative power that God invested in humankind can accomplish incredible things. However, unless the evidence flowing from revitalization demonstrate a reformational change from the inside out, there has not been a visit attributable to God. The catalyst to this kind of revival will be the prayers of Christians, the aforementioned renewal of the Church and it's participation in the revitalization of the city. People in the community will have observed a spiritual authenticity in Christians that begins to break down their defenses to God’s truth. Home after home will be moved to repent of godless values, turning instead to Jesus Christ, God’s only answer to their sin. Congregations will swell, homes will host prayer and Bible studies, and people will pursue a sense of purpose and meaning that mocks the promises of materialism and hedonism. God is uniquely the author of this phase of transformation, yet our task is to continue to call people to humbly pray for this level of His touch upon our community.
- Restoration of Community – Gradually what emerges in a renewed Church and revitalized community is a kingdom mindset that expands God's presence into all spheres of society. The consensus will be that God needs to be first in the hearts and systems of the community Psalm 127. Influenced by regenerate leadership in the economic, educational, government, religious and other systems of society, corrections to institutional and prevailing sin will be advanced. Though the Church and other institutions will remain separate, a team effort will be made to see our community pursue the principles of a New Jerusalem, where the main purpose of the city is to bring its residents into fellowship with their God Revelation 21:3. The results will be a restoration to God's original purposes for community, or people living together in His Creation.