ENP Blog

What I Learned While Connecting Churches in Fresno/Clovis

In May of 2016 I was hired as the Church Relations Coordinator for Fresno City Fest through the Luis Palau Association. When I interviewed for the position I didn’t know how impacted I would be by this great opportunity.

My task seemed simple: “go and talk with churches.” I had been in ministry for over eight years. Go and talk with other people in ministry? I said to myself, “how hard can it be?”

However, then I received a list of 525 churches in the Fresno/Clovis area that I would be reaching out to. I immediately realized that the task of reaching out appeared simple, but the actual execution might not be. At that moment, I began developing a strategic plan to visit churches by zip code. That way, I would make sure not to miss an opportunity to connect with a potential partnering church. By the time I was done, 11 months later, I had tallied 389 church visits!

However, then I received a list of 525 churches in the Fresno/Clovis area that I would be reaching out to. I immediately realized that the task of reaching out appeared simple, but the actual execution might not be. At that moment, I began developing a strategic plan to visit churches by zip code. That way, I would make sure not to miss an opportunity to connect with a potential partnering church. By the time I was done, 11 months later, I had tallied 389 church visits!

After those 11 months, I realized the churches in the Fresno/Clovis area have a strong connection of fellowship and mutual respect. The connection was so prevalent that it didn’t take long for it to gain the attention of the Palau Association. Luis himself even noted it several times. He said it was something unlike anything he had experienced while working in a city to unite the church body. A unified body was already progressively working and growing in the city.

Joy in Connecting

Connectedness and unity existed amongst some of our largest churches. However in my work to reach out to ALL churches, I also realized that some had never had any contact with their neighboring places of worship. Some of these churches were literally across the street from each other and had never had any interaction. This presented my greatest task; not greatest in that it was weighty, but greatest in that it brought me the most joy. I was helping to unite neighbor with neighbor and being a bridge for brothers and sisters in Christ. This was the task that I truly feel was my main purpose in God leading me to join the Fresno City Fest.

I came away inspired by my work with the churches of our city, both large and small. The work, dedication, and commitment that exists in our city is inspiring. My brothers who were willing to reach out and create new connections for the sake of our city are also inspiring. I will be transparent and admit that in some of my encounters, there were churches who were resistant to connecting. Some had bad past experiences in working with others, some had denominational boundaries, and others were just not interested. This resistance was hard to accept. However, my experiences with our churches who work united and those who were open to unity showed me hope. Although not 100% of churches were open to joining with their neighbors, a commitment exists within many churches to bridge these gaps.

Through my experience, I can confidently say that, overall, Fresno and Clovis are blessed to have a healthy and growing community of churches and leaders who love their city and the people in them. To all the churches and church receptionists who were very kind, welcoming, and open to assist in any way possible. It’s great to know that there are places of worship in Fresno and Clovis that love the people in their communities.

Photo by Tung Wong on Unsplash

Javier Garza

javiergarza

Javier Garza is passionate about serving in Gods kingdom and joining people on their journey to a deeper relationship with the Lord. Javier is happily married to his wife Felicia Garza of 7 years, together they have dedicated their lives to loving God, serving others and pouring into their two sons. Before he began his life with his wife he began his studies at Fresno Pacific University earning his BA in Contemporary Christian Ministries in 2009, in 2010 he earned a second BA degree in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from City Vision College. His professional experience includes 8 years of work at the Fresno Rescue Mission in the capacity as Program coordinator and project manager he also was given the opportunity to gain 2 years of experience in the private sector where he was appointed as General Manager for a for-profit energy company. Javier’ ministry experience includes over ten years in youth ministry and currently serves as a minister in Parlier Ca.

Javier GarzaWhat I Learned While Connecting Churches in Fresno/Clovis

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