by Dean Bjorlin

Six years and two weeks ago I moved to Breckenridge, Mn. to pastor Valley Christian Church. In our local ministerial I was the new guy. Since I have been here there have been at least 15 pastoral changes in our community, which also includes Wahpeton, ND.

Being the new guy in the ministerial, it seemed wise to get to know everyone before I put forth my agenda, which honestly speaking did not exist at that point. I did notice that the ministerial group seemed to be made up of mostly those ‘liberal’ churches like Methodists, Lutherans, and even Catholics! The traditionally evangelical minded churches were not involved.

Source: after about two years I threw out an idea of us sponsoring a day in our community where we would bring a speaker into the schools and then invite everyone back in the evening where the speaker would share his/her faith and give an opportunity for people to make a faith commitment (altar call). I had the idea in October of 2009 and it didn’t become a reality until November of 2010. It was called the Day of Hope. Our first speaker was Eric Samuel Timm.

One of the first hurdles we had to clear was “the prayer” that people would pray while making their commitment. We came up with this:

Dear Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross and rising again to pay the price for my sins. I wholeheartedly invite you into my life. In doing so, I put my total trust in you. Grant me the grace to live for you and take this new found hope I’ve received and give it to others. Amen.

We also set up tables around the gym floor with the names of the participating churches so that when a person came forward for salvation or recommitment they could then be prayed for by the church they already had a relationship with. This curtailed any proselytizing fears and brought up the trust level within the group.

While at first I was frustrated with waiting a year for our first event, in the process of time it went from being Dean’s event to being OUR event. In that, we scheduled it on a Wednesday and every church involved agreed to bring their groups to the area college for the event program. Every church which had confirmation made the evening a requirement where some of the kids even had to take notes. One of the surprising elements to me was the lack of support by our traditionally evangelical churches and the whole-hearted support among the “liberal” ones. Some evangelicals didn’t think that the ministerial could be trusted to be so evangelical, so it was better not to be involved. Our first two years we had over one thousand in attendance with many of them making first time decisions to follow Christ.

We just finished year four and are looking forward to year five. Some of the outcomes of the Day of Hope include a high trust level between the ministerial and our schools. We raise the money for it and only charge the school $100. They really like that part! They no longer look for a fall speaker and plan on using the one we bring in now. It has been a great witness to our community to see the churches work together for the good of the whole community. We are consistently planting seeds of hope into our community and gaining credibility within our towns. The time taken to work together has allowed us to do something much greater than any one of us could have done on our own! It’s amazing what God can do when His people dwell together and unity and seek to advance His Kingdom together.

How have you seen God move in your community lately?

Dean Bjorlin is the Lead Pastor of Valley Christian Church in Breckenridge, MN.

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