By Andrew Smith
My name is Andrew Smith and I’m excited to be the new Director of Faith Partnerships here at CRN. My passion, whether in my many years as a pastor or now having come on staff with CRN, has always been to see the church live more fully into its mission to care deeply for our community and see the wellbeing that God desires for our world spread to every area of our city. Yes, it’s a big vision, but I’m grateful to be part of an organization working to bring churches together for this purpose and see what God can do in and through our work together.
One of the truly fun things I’ve been able to do in my new role is meet with pastors all over the city to hear about the work their churches are already doing to engage and care for their communities and hear the dreams they have for how this work could grow and expand. It’s been amazing to discover all of the ways God is already working and leading to bring transformation and healing across Central Florida.
As we wrap up this current year — still figuring out what “new normal” looks like in the wake of Covid and looking forward to some of the exciting opportunities a new year will bring — I had the chance to sit down with our founder, Dr. Joel Hunter to talk about vision; the importance of the church prioritizing Jesus’ call to “love our neighbors” and the potential of the church as a whole being united in this work here in Central Florida. I was able to ask him about his own journey of discovering how God’s call to “love our neighbor” fits into the mission of the church, some of his thoughts on why this is so important in our current reality and the potential this might have on our city.
I was struck, as I’m guessing you will be, by Dr. Hunters transparency in openly admitting some of the ways he (and the church as a whole) has often emphasized personal love for God to the neglect of caring for those outside the walls of our churches and our need to recover balance in that dual mission. He also gave great insight into specific ways we might live more deeply into the kinds of relationships that have the potential to bring healing and transformation, as well as the greater potential of the church collaborating around this work all across the city. I hope you enjoy our conversation and find it inspirational to the ways that God is calling you to love your own neighbors! And as always, if you are interested in your church networking with others in this work, feel free to reach out.
Andrew Smith, Director of Faith Partnerships