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New Year, Name and Vision

New Year New Name, New Vision

As the 2018 new year begins, we are excited to announce that the Nehemiah Network is becoming the CityChurch Network of Arkansas.

For more than 20 years the Nehemiah Network has been uniting Central Arkansas’ churches. During this time:

    • Hundreds of pastors and thousands of people have participated in united prayer opportunities through our monthly leader’s prayer gatherings, the 20 annual prayer summits, and quarterly citywide evenings of prayer and worship.
    • Thousands have been mobilized to respond to some of the deepest needs in our community through ShareFest, CityFest with Luis Palau, church-school partnerships, and other key initiatives in areas such as literacy, marriage, and racial unity.
    • We have served as the Central Arkansas host for the Global Leadership Summit and through our partnership with the Antioch School for Church Planting and Leadership Development are providing quality leadership training and accredited church-based theological education for a growing movement of leaders.

With this history, you might ask “Why change our name?” It’s a great question. Those who been a part of this growing movement from its beginning love the story of Nehemiah and how it pictures our core values of prayer, leadership, and transformation. Nehemiah was a great leader who served in the city of Jerusalem around 445 B.C. in a time of great human need and spiritual crisis. He not only prayed, but united his people in a strategic work which transformed the wellbeing of their city.

As much as we value our history and the story that inspired our name, for those not as familiar with Nehemiah,  it does not communicate immediately who we are.  We believe  “CityChurch Network” describes more clearly who we are and our mission to unite churches as “one Church” in a city. The “of Arkansas” communicates an expanded vision to see “citychurch networks” develop and connect in cities all across our State and beyond.

For all who have participated, partnered, or been blessed by the Nehemiah Network, be encouraged that we are more committed than ever to our mission to unite the church that the world may know Jesus.  For those who are new to our movement, we are excited to introduce you to the CityChurch Network of Arkansas. For all, we invite you to unite together as we pray, grow, and serve for the glory of God.

~Ray Williams

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NEW: Leader Prayer Groups

The CityChurch Network of Arkansas is excited about expanding our traditional Third Thursday Prayer Luncheons into monthly gatherings of pastors and leaders. Here is the emerging design Logan Bloom, Bill Elliff, Harry Li and Brandon Bernard are working on:

Leader Prayer Groups – Overview


2018 Vision

Mobilize 100 Pastors and Ministry Leaders into small prayer groups that are relational, regional,
and revival focused..

12-Month Commitment
Gather monthly (minimum) with your prayer group and bring ten of your church members to
the semi-annual One Voice events.

Prayer Group Leaders
We want to enlist your help as a Prayer Group Leader to reach out to 3-4 other Pastors and
assign a date and location that best fits your group. As Prayer Group Leaders we want to
support you as you support your group.

Resources

  • The CityChurch Network will provide a digital citywide prayer guide including regional highlights and pastoral encouragement from one of our prayer group leaders.
  • The CityChurch Network will organize a semi-annual All Prayer Group gathering in the off-quarters of One Voice to bring all of our Prayer Groups together.
  • The City Church Network will continue organizing the annual Arkansas Prayer Summit as a prayer retreat for Pastors, Ministry Leaders and Prayer Leaders across Arkansas.
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Bill Elliff – On United Prayer

Why we Must UNITE in Prayer ~ Bill Elliff – The Summit Church…

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14)

Ask anyone who knows you well and they will easily be able to tell about your ways. “Well, he always does (this).” “If you approach him this way, it will be better because …” There are certain things about how you function—your operating systems!

Just as you have your ways, God has his. And they are easily recognizable. Earlier believers often spoke of the “means of grace.” These are the things He has set in motion for us to utilize that would accomplish His desired ends and give His children what they need for life and godliness. The means by which we access the grace of God. The Word of God, preaching, worship, communion, etc. are all in this category. These are beautifully catalogued for us in the closing verses of Acts, Chapter 2.

We don’t invent these, we cooperate with God in humility, using His means. And, if we do, He will graciously respond, giving us, and those with us, more than we can think or imagine.

THE FOUNDATIONAL MEANS…..
… of God’s grace is prayer. We often view prayer as a side-room, but it is the foundation. We have no real relationship with God unless we pray. (How would a marriage be described if husband and wife never talked with each other, communicated needs, hurts, desires and daily business?)

Our life begins with prayer (“Whoever CALLS on the name of the Lord will be saved”) and is developed and sustained by prayer.

If Christ is the Head of the church, how can we possibly say that we are a church if we do not let Him speak to us and spend large amounts of time communing with Him?

THE EARLY CHURCH…..
… understood this. In Acts 1:14 you find them doing exactly what Christ told them to do and what would bring about all the desired results they longed for. They were learning, just as they had seen for three years as they walked with Jesus, that the primary means of moving forward in God was to commune with the Father. And, notice each phrase:
these all” (no one was absent, for this was the highest priority)
“with one mind” (prayer led them to perfect unity, for in prayer, you are humbled before God)
“were continually” (there was no thought of anything else—it was their habitual practice)
“devoting themselves” (to be devoted means to “be strong towards” and they were, Individually, making the choice to pray together)
“to prayer” (the primary, foundational means of getting God’s work one)

OUR PRAYER SUMMIT…..
… has been a humble, 25-year attempt to do the same. We have sought to come together, continually, with one mind to pray. Each year that this happens, amazing results occur. There is always an increase in unity, connection, and instruction and direction from God about our city. And spiritual momentum occurs.

The sad reality is that many don’t view this moment as foundational. But those of us who have attended have experienced it and believe.

What would happen if every pastor in the city joined together, for two days every year, in prayer?

Before you brush aside the idea, read the rest of Acts, Chapter 1 and 2 and see the explosion of God’s grace when His leaders “all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.”

There is more at stake than any of us realize. United prayer is uniquely irresistible to God, and Central Arkansas needs the spiritual awakening that could occur when God’s leaders pray together!

Bill Elliff is the founder and Senior Teaching Pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas. His passion is to see both genuine revival and methodological renewal in the church—both new wine and new wineskins. He is a frequent conference speaker, writer, and consultant to churches drawing from his 47+ years of pastoring and revival ministry. Author of 11 books, Bill is also the Pastor/Church Director for OneCry! A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening.

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Making a difference in LR

First Principles – “Making a Difference in Little Rock” ~ Dee Brown…..While at a Bible study in our home with friends and neighbors in our community, Gary was new to the group and sat there quietly taking in the discussion.  I wondered what Gary thought.  He was hearing us describe our previous weeks lesson on the Gospel and this week’s initial discussion on Baptism and the obedience of following Jesus in the walk with Him; a first act of obedience that leads a Christ follower to a life of obedience. This was Gary’s first exposure to First Principles of establishing someone in their faith.

After our meeting was over I asked Gary what he thought and he responded, “Wow, as each person shared, I picked up on several different backgrounds and church denominations, but this study was so focused on the Bible, and kept pulling us back to the Scripture, that is just cut right through all of that.

I’ve watched as the First Principles series takes believers through a process of exploring the Gospel and its implications for our lives, understanding the church as God’s vehicle to accomplish His mission and how that mission calls us to be a ‘family of families’ that lets our good works and openness bring people to Him.  Ultimately it explores our heart motivations so that we are aligned with His heart and mission in all aspects of our lives.  The First Principles is transformational, and the process allows us to identify leaders who can lead others in the same transformation.  This is multiplication at work in our church!                                                                                ~Dave Kella

Those are the kinds of stories I have heard over my journey of the past three years into discipleship with Arkansas Antioch Initiative of the Nehemiah Network; a network of churches who are giving leadership to pastors as well as lay leaders who want to leverage making disciples for thousands of people.

This discipleship curriculum is centered around the Socratic method. The Socratic Method is a way of community based learning in questions. These Socratic discussions focus on a facilitator engaging a group in discussion not lecturing from the front. Socratic discussions over Scripture hundreds of scholarly articles, and writing articles that apply to any cultural setting at any time lead us to evaluate what we believe in light of what is normative in Scripture. The First Principles study engages the group around scripture, conversational learning, and our writing moves beyond simply fill in the blank studies to help us reshape our lives.

I have never been a part of anything like this; Biblical community as it should be, with simple, practical steps that lead to reshaping our lives to follow Jesus.       ~ Evan Kenyon

Because of my successful engagement with the First Principles study, I began to explore the leadership cohorts. These as well utilize the socratic method and confirmed the excellence of the product. We have seen this process work with our Espanol campus and many other contexts. You can see an example in the quote below:

I have seen Jesus Christ transform many lives as I have trained leaders in over five (5) countries using First Principles.  This is a huge success for the Kingdom.            ~Daniel Bran

The process really works.  Spending this much time together around the Scripture and the discussions with multiple church leaders really affects change in our lives. I am excited because I have seen so many instances where people are responding to this strategy.

Another key differentiator in this process is for everyone in the church, all people, from new to the faith all the way to full time ministers of the Gospel.  Yes, the leadership development system of the Antioch Initiative can span that large of an experience group.  It is important for leadership development to be happening at these different levels of influence. Lay people must be involved at a higher level of commitment that we may have originally thought if we want to move the needle and make a real difference in our city.

My approach to discipleship has been very focused on small groups of men.  The biblical approach to spiritual family and community is profound.  I tried to look up references in Scripture to household and family and I couldn’t believe how saturated scripture is with that concept.  Establishing churches within a household paradigm marries church, discipleship, leadership development and missions.  Learning and experiencing this has been refreshing, exciting and encouraging.    ~ Michael Kitchens

Establishing churches within a household paradigm marries church, discipleship, leadership development and missions.  Learning and experiencing this has been refreshing, exciting and encouraging

Kevin Kelly, Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church Little Rock just finished a pilot of First Principles at his church that was another success story.  Eight-five people signed up and seventy-nine finished the course.  They are now looking at how to integrate First Principles of establishing people in their faith into their church.

I dream of a time that is just beginning here in Little Rock where there is a grass roots movement of discipleship, that is biblical and church-centered. A movement in and around Little Rock that mobilizes the laity across denominations and cultures.  One that encourages people to start new small groups and uses First Principles to establish people in their faith and allow people to see their potential in Gods kingdom.

I hope to see more groups like this that are multi-church where we are learning biblically-based and church-centered approach that strengthens our churches and builds unity of a city-wide movement for Jesus.  May God continue to bless this movement for His Kingdom and grant us wisdom in the days ahead.

Dee Brown is a lay elder at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, AR and participant in the Arkansas Antioch Initiative Leadership Cohort.

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Darrell Adcock – GLS is MORE

GLS more than a Summit ~  Darrell Adcock  South City Church……..I’ll never forget sitting in the lakeside auditorium with 2,463 others at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago for the very first Leadership Summit.  The presence of the Holy Spirit was heavy on me.  I could tell they had been praying fervently over a long season to “call us up” as leaders.  As Hybels famously said,  “The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.”

It seemed only natural to use this conference as a chance to connect with my teenage kids and let them taste of what mature leadership looks like and ways to grow in their service through the local church, learning from leaders in business, politics, thought-leaders, and nonprofits.

“When Dad called me one day to go to this leadership conference, I thought, “I’ll go, spend time with my dad” I never thought that this might change the way I live my life. The first year it opened my eyes to the world of leadership and that I could actually be good at it. What a true blessing it was to sit next to the man I looked up to most in leadership, in life in the church, and most of all as a teacher. The Global Leadership Summit has been the two days a year that I look forward to most. From hearing from the top leaders to the car rides on the way back talking about what stuck out most. The Summit has shaped me to truly love the local church and made me see leadership in a whole new way. Six years down and twenty to go!” – McKenna Adcock

Over the past 25 years of the GLS, I bet I’ve only missed a couple.  God profoundly uses this conference to re-calibrate my leadership, renew my calling, and expand my heart for the local church, the world, and the needs of people.  Plus, I will never surrender the opportunity to connect and grow with my, now adult, kids.

Don’t worry, Kenna, I’ve already got our tickets for next year!

McKenna Adcock uses her leadership for Starbucks and in serving at South City Church in Little Rock. Darrell Adcock serves as Executive Pastor and Music Director at South City Church.  He and Tracy are celebrating 30 years of marriage and their four kids.  Together they help foster and adoptive families through Empowered to Connect Parent Training

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