Closer to love: an Introduction
I am so glad that you have chosen to take time out to read about the heart of the Closer to Love Movement (CTL) and all the things that it entails! Before I get into what CTL is, I want to tell you a little about who I am and how CTL became what it is today.
Hello! My name is Jordan Poole I am a Florida native, born and bred in the city of Jacksonville. I am a college student attending the University of North Florida and I started CTL spring of my freshman year. In January 2012, my campus minister approached me and asked if I wanted to coordinate a student outreach in the inner city, I responded with a resounding yes. Thus, Closer to Love was born. I chose the name for a whole host of reasons, but the most prominent was the theme behind the Great Commandment in Matthew 22, which tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The intentionality of putting someone else’s needs before my own seemed to so perfectly fit with the idea of serving the community.
With this mission in mind, my friends and I began to serve the city of Jacksonville showing the love of Christ with an uncontrollable passion. Over the course of one and a half years, roughly 200 volunteers got serve over 500 people in the city of Jacksonville. From Easter egg hunts for refugees to anti-trafficking initiatives on campus, we were able to make a huge difference in our city. I mention this, not to toot my own horn but to share how hard it was to do what happened next. One day in the late spring of 2013, the Lord made it clear that I needed to lay this ministry at His feet because He was going to cast new vision. I struggled immensely with the idea of taking something that I thought was so successfully sharing the love of Christ and walking away from it for a while. Now there are a lot of things that happened in my heart from then until now that were such integral pieces to what CTL is today but I will save that for another entry. Long story short, I walked away. And then I began to wait. I waited… and waited… and waited until CTL became more of a distant memory than a prophetic reality.
Now, fast forward to just a couple months ago. I was in my favorite coffee shop in Springfield sipping on some hot tea and reading my bible, then out of nowhere it hit me. The Lord just began to pour ideas into my mind about what He wanted CTL to be. I quickly wrote the major points on a napkin and when I got to my apartment, I just began to journal furiously. Here were just some of the questions that the Lord laid on my heart:
What if there was a way to celebrate all of the amazing things that the Lord was doing in our city? What if there was an opportunity for individuals to be encouraged and uplifted by hearing the testimony of others outside of their own Sunday morning experience? And if such a thing existed were, what would it look like?
Honestly, those questions are a lot bigger than any answer I could come up with. I quickly became overwhelmed by all of these big questions that the Lord pressed on my heart, so I decided to pull an Ezekiel and say “Only you alone know!” And I was right. He is the only one that knows the answers to those seemingly overwhelming questions. He began to show me that there were so many different parts of the body of Christ and that though all of the things that were happening were awesome, no one knew what the other parts were doing. There needed to be some form of tangible unity , something that an individual could easily access to find out about the various expressions of Jesus in our city. As the Lord began to walk me through this problem, he also gave me a solution: a ministry that went out of its way to showcase what other ministries were doing. That was what CTL was supposed to be, communities of individuals going out of their way to promote what others were doing for Jesus. Whether it be through a website, a personal conversation or a coordinated event, these people would share the amazing love of Christ by the testimony of what the Lord was doing in our places of influence.
With these new parameters put into place, a website was born. A website that was meant to help accomplish this very task. Each month, CTL will feature a different ministry on the website to share that ministry’s expression of the love of Christ. Additionally, CTL will host a worship night each month to give a physical platform for that same ministry to share its heart with those who are there. These mediums are meant to be a conduit for community to connect and celebrate what the Lord is doing in our city.
So, in short that’s why you’re reading this blog. Before I wrap up this entry, I just want to clarify that I don’t think I have been given the only answer to solve this issue of the dismembered body of Christ, this is just the answer God gave me. My personal hope is that this blog would be an inspiration for you to do something similar in your areas of influence, however the Lord leads you.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this, I look forward to our journey together. You will be hearing from me or one of my friends soon about how we try and live this thing out. Ill talk to you soon but for now…