Champions for Christ Champion His Church

Who You are is More Than Just What You Do

February 12, 2024

Let me tell you a story about a young woman named Kiara. 

Kiara came to Liberty University from Ashburn, Virginia to pursue a degree and a career in Exercise Science and to grow in her passion for dancing. In her second year, she learned about an opportunity to spend the summer in Los Angeles to help plant the gospel in that city. 

She went across the country and invested her life in that city and grew a deep burden for those people. The following summer, she went home and applied a lot of what she had learned in her home church, and her passion for advancing the Kingdom of God continued to grow. 

The summer after she graduated, she returned and led a team of college students to help a new church plant the gospel in northeast LA. After this trip, she made the decision to stay and work as a personal trainer, a professional dancer, and a core member of the initial leadership team of that church plant. This past fall, she greeted at the door for the launch of The Abiding Church in LA and serves on the leadership team as that new fellowship continues to grow and multiply.

This thrills my soul! That story makes me overwhelmingly excited about this next generation and the future of the church! I can’t wait to see many more young men and women like Kiara using their vocational calling to advance the gospel and build the church. You see, I believe that champions for Christ should champion his church. She is a woman named Kiara, from the city of Ashburn, a personal trainer, who is a worshiper of God. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.

Now, let me tell you another story about a woman named Lydia. We read about her story in Acts 16:11-15. Notice her description in verse 14, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.” This seems overly simple, but let me share with you what I am learning from this next generation who are modeling this description of Lydia.

Every disciple is a gospel champion: “A woman named Lydia.”

Lydia was a leader. She prevails upon Paul. That is not easy to do. She had a personality and a passion that allowed her to have a business, a home, and influence. There are a multitude of different cultures and personalities and giftings in this next generation. That diversity is a beautiful thing when it comes to sharing the good news. Who better to reach an introvert than another introvert? Who better to reach a gamer than another gamer? Who better to reach a nurse than another nurse? Who better to reach an athlete than another athlete? 

Because we know that God uses all types of people to advance the gospel, I view every student at Liberty University as a potential church planting team member. All of us are called to be ambassadors, and God has placed us in different fields to represent him there. This passage reveals that the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was “said” by Paul. Our task is to open our mouths. God takes care of opening hearts. That is not my responsibility. We must champion the gospel in our spheres of influence and leave the results up to Him. 

Every location is a gospel outpost: “From the city of Thyatira.”

Lydia was from Thyatira but now lived in a city called Philippi. In Thyatira, she learned a very common trade: The ability to use purple dye to make materials and clothing. She took that skillset and went across the Aegean Sea to Philippi. Philippi was “A leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (16:12). Philippi was a major city known for its marketplace and trading opportunities. She took her career and traveled to a place where she could be more successful without realizing that God had bigger plans for her than just business. Here in Philippi, a great church would be planted, and that church would start in her home. 

Years later, Paul would write a letter to this church. Take a look at Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” Did you catch that? He mentions all the saints in Christ Jesus, with overseers and deacons. We do not get Philippians 1:1 without Acts 16:11-15. No matter what city or town God leads you to, we are responsible for showing and sharing the gospel in that place. 

At Liberty University, every state, city, and context is represented. We have students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, both residential and online. This next generation is mobilizing to reach the world with the gospel and help accomplish the great commission!

Every vocation is a gospel platform: “A seller of purple goods.”

We learn that Lydia had established herself here in Philippi. She was a businesswoman and an entrepreneur who started something with what she had learned back home. She had a family and a home that was able to host multiple family members and guests. She had a business mind, an entrepreneurial passion, a strong personality, and gifts of service and hospitality. She was also someone who valued community and prayer. Paul finds her in a prayer group with other women by the river. Even though she was a successful businesswoman in a strategic city, she was still a “worshiper of God.”  

This aspect of Lydia’s life also excites me about the next generation. At LU, we have more than 700 unique programs of study (some available both residentially and online). We have more than 50 graduate programs with 100+ specializations. However, what drives us is the philosophy that champions for Christ champion his church. We want the next generation not just to pursue a degree and an occupation. Occupation deals with a space that I occupy. My occupation is a job that I have to go to. My occupation is a paycheck. My occupation is a career. We want to push them toward the vocational calling of God in their lives. Vocation involves a voice that I follow. Vocation is a mission that I get to be part of. Vocation is a passion. Vocation is a calling. Do not divorce your occupation from the gospel and the bride of Christ. Do not isolate yourself and operate apart from biblical community. Use your vocational calling to advance the gospel.

CONCLUSION: “Who was a worshiper of God.”

Kiara is more than just a personal trainer or a professional dancer. Kiara is a worshiper of God. Kiara prayed and told God, “None of this matters if I’m not being obedient to you.Lydia was a worshiper of God. Notice that her identity was not defined by what she did but who she worshiped. She sold purple goods, but that is not who she was. She was from Thyatira, but that was not who she was. She was more than just those things. She was a worshiper of God.

This next generation needs to be known as worshipers of the one true God. You are part of a generation that needs to use your vocational calling to plant the gospel, grow disciples, and multiply churches. You are not generation next. You are generation now. You are a champion for Christ! Let us champion his church!

Chris Dowd

Chris Dowd

Chris and his wife, Jessie, live in Forest, Virginia with their two sons, Andrew and Jonathan. He serves as the Director of the Center for Church Advancement at Liberty University, which allows him to teach church planting and pastoral leadership both residentially and online. He is one of the founding elders at Bedrock Community Church, where he leads the teaching team and their network of church plants. His passion is to serve the local church as a communicator, a course charter, and a coach.
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