Categories called to love a city

Birth of a Passion

A Note from Pastor Mike: Every passion has a starting point. For me, my involvement in the civic arena began in 1995.  Former Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden had inaugurated a Chaplain Program for the Department he led.  After an extensive interview process, he invited me to join his special-ops team.  With this invitation, my love for First Responders was launched. Shortly thereafter, in 1996, I attended a Promise Keeper Clergy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with fifty thousand pastors.  Over a period of three days, God again stirred my heart.

As I kneeled on the concrete floor near the front stage of the Georgia Dome, God’s invitation was clear and straightforward.  Full disclosure, I found it almost hard to breathe as I tried to shoulder the weight of what I felt Him asking me to do. God’s message was simple: “Mike, love the people who live and work in Costa Mesa, CA.”  

Warriors of our City: Dr. Kirk Bauermeister (NMUSD), Chief Dan Stefano (CMFD), Chaplain Mike Decker, Chief Rob Sharpnack (CMPD)

Back in Costa Mesa, while reading Matthew 4, God’s Spirit began to “whisper” to me a beginning strategy. I had just completed reading a book written by Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) in which he invited one million people to join him on a forty day fast; praying for a spiritual awakening in America. With the support of my wife, in faith, we stepped into this invitation.

Meal time became walk time.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were set times of the day when I would “walk and pray” for Costa Mesa.  Using a city map and yellow highlighter, over an eight week period, God gave me the strength to walk every City street, back alley, parking lot, neighborhood park, school campus, and housing complex.  As I walked (Joshua 1:3), I prayed; claiming every person I saw and using every step to claim territory for Jesus (Luke 19:10). And with every step, my love and familiarity with my city grew deeper and deeper.

Simultaneously, I met twice a week with a different Lead Pastor from local congregations in Costa Mesa, to pray with him, for him, and for his church ministry. Together we asked God to unleash His Holy Spirit upon our city.  Not surprisingly, God heard our prayers.

What began as an eight week assignment, blossomed into a monthly fellowship of pastors who gathered to pray together.  While the “players” have changed over the years, a few of us still remain. And we are still praying together. From the seeds of this group, God continues to raise up and send out a variety of courageous leaders to help address some of our cities greatest challenges.  Together, we are loving our city.

Two decades have passed since God’s call to love my city was birthed; but my passion to see people experience His love continues to burn strong.  Will you join me and the Palm Harvest community on our “love your city” journey?  I pray that you will.

Footnote: A decade ago, I set out on a learning expedition to acquire some tools for engaging my city. Over a seven year period, I interviewed two hundred two (202) evangelical church teams from across North America and shadowed three (3) in particular who evidenced intuitive success in engaging their neighboring communities.  From this project, I gleaned twelve effective strategies; transferable concepts that I continue to utilize today.  This BLOG is intended to unpack some of the lessons God has been and continues to teach me. I covenant with you to be transparent and authentic.

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