Community Life

In 1881, a new movement began waving the banner of salvation in Jesus Christ and proclaiming the unity of every follower of Jesus Christ.

Churches were started all over the world, and in 1935, the First Church of God in West Palm Beach began.

Twenty years ago, that church made some difficult decisions and sacrifices to further God’s mission. They sold their building, renamed themselves Church in the Palms, and developed a vision to build a mission outpost that would be used every day of the week to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people in its community. By the time the church moved to their new campus ten years later, the vision included sharing that mission outpost with other churches. They called the 16,000 square foot building the Community Life Center.

Two years after that campus opened, God began to nudge a pastor in Virginia out of a fruitful ministry. Compelled by its spiritual need and intrigued by its cultural diversity, the pastor’s family made a challenging transition to South Florida in 2012. After a few years of ministry in this unique culture, God gave that pastor, Shawn Allen, a strategic vision for Missional Unity: inspiring Christians to see God’s vision of unity, connect together, and join God’s mission together.

What happened next was . . .
a beautiful fulfillment of the dreams of a new movement in the 1880s,
the continued fruit of a new South Florida church plant in the 1930s, and
a realization of that church’s renewed missional vision at the turn of the century.

In 2017, as the new Senior Pastor of Church in the Palms, Shawn invited the 7 Christian organizations who were meeting in the Community Life Center to partner together on mission. All 7 organizations agreed to join God’s mission together!

Since then, Community Life has grown to 18 non-profit organizations
who are partnering together to give our community life
through ministries such as feeding the hungry,
raising the reading level of elementary school students,
and advocating for foster children.

Some of the partners are based out of the Community Life Center, like the 10 churches who offer worship services in Spanish, Creole, and English to our diverse community. Other partners are located around our county, and we are all on God’s mission together!

To learn more about Missional Unity and the strategic vision for Community Life, visit

If you want to learn how you or your organization
can partner together with Community Life,
contact us or join us for at the Community Life Center
for our Community Life Partners Connection
on Wednesday, October 3, 2018.

Palm Sunday Jazz

Imagine 32 people from 10 different churches telling the story of Jesus’ last week on earth with the rhythms and harmonies of jazz, blues, funk, and more!

“Spectacular job of honoring Jesus. The music was awesome and the singers were great.”      

“What a service!  What a performance!  I think Jesus was right there in the room cheering you all on! Even if you are a committed Christian, I am thinking we were (I was) sooooo moved and gave a whole new meaning to that story.”

“Incredible service. Made me very emotional!”

“It was awesome – I’m glad I was part of the service”

Palm Sunday Jazz was truly a picture of what I call missional unity. People who don’t usually worship together . . . working together to share Jesus with their community.

Here’s what it sounded like . . .

We Run. You Invest. Children Win.

On Saturday, April 7, 2018, Children’s Home Society of Florida will host their annual 5K.

I am spending November-April training 41 year-old knees to beat the Personal Record I set last year.

More importantly, I want to inspire you to help me raise $8,500 for Palm Beach County’s most vulnerable children.

Here’s how you can help . . .

1) INVEST in the lives of abused, neglected, or abandoned kids by donating today! Click the link below to invest . . .

2) or JOIN our Missional Unity team!

All it takes is a few texts, emails, or social media posts . . . and you can encourage your friends to share their resources with these kids!

I am looking for 15 team members who will try to raise $500 each. Even if you don’t make it to $500, every ounce of effort will be worth it! Click the link below to join our team . . .

[Missional Unity Teammate Jessica Skirkanich Casillas raised $700 last year, and Missional Unity Teammate Suzi Harmon Eby raised $575 last year – so yes, you can do it!]

The path to $925 

November 13: Enjoyed lunch with a friend, Rod Rivera, whose combination of superior age and athleticism inspired me to come out of my running retirement.

November 23: With my brand new running shoes laced up, ran .2 of a mile (yes, that’s two-tenths of a mile . . . I invite you to keep reading while you laugh).

December – January: Gradually increased my distance and limited my speed to prevent myself from destroying my knees like the time I tried to train for a marathon.

February 6: Now running 2 miles, I began to dream about running a 5K (3 mile race). Because I love turning normal events into opportunities for people to share their resources (Jazz Nativity, anyone?), I signed up for the Children’s Home Society’s 5K Race, committing to raise money for foster kids.

March 29: I individually texted almost every single person I had texted in the last year, asking each of them to share $5 for foster kids. It worked!

Over the next few days, the Children’s Home Society received $835 from my friends, making me the 2nd highest individual fundraiser for the event! I also convinced four other runners to join my team, which brought my MissionalUnity team total to $925.

Can you believe that? $925. Thank you to each person who shared $5! Here’s some of the ways you supported foster kids with your generosity:

  • Transition home (for homeless teen moms – only 3 such programs in PBC and all the beds are always full)
  • Safe Harbor (for troubled and runaway teens – they receive therapy and time to figure things out before the teen returns home)
  • Bridges (a preventative program in the community to help with parenting skills)
  • Street outreach (helps runaway teens)
  • Gifts (to help create normalcy for the lives of foster children)

April 2: Ran the 5K. Had to stop three times in the first mile to stretch a calf injury, and actually made a wrong turn at one point (only I could get lost in a race!), but by God’s grace was able to finish 17th overall. My daughter finished 2nd in her age group (go Nellie!).


Most impressive, my MissionalUnity teammate and fellow elder at Church in the Palms, Jerry Barrantes, finished 5th overall!

Hurting my calf during the last few weeks of training prevented me from being in optimal shape for the race. On that 3rd mile, I REALLY wanted to stop and take a break. But you know what kept me going? The 800 bucks my friends had given to foster kids in honor of me finishing that race.

If you are inspired by this story to do something to help foster kids, but don’t want to run 3 miles, join us for Take Heart on May 22nd, 6pm, at Grace Fellowship and learn how you can get involved in the lives of modern-day orphans here in Palm Beach County.

Would you let me inspire you to share five bucks with foster children?


I don’t know about you, but I want to help the 1200 foster kids in Palm Beach County who are looking for a forever home. So I came up with a way to motivate my friends to share their resources with these precious children.

I have spent the last few months training to run a 5K. The race is on Saturday, April 2nd, and I am asking my friends to donate ONE DOLLAR for every kilometer I am running to the Children’s Home Society. The Children’s Home Society helped 76,000 kids and family members last year . . . when you share 5 dollars, you will help provide emergency shelter, counseling and outreach, and help kids find their forever family through foster care or adoption. If you are ready to bless these kids, click on the link to sponsor me . . .

Sponsor Shawn Allen

By the way, if you love the idea of walking or running to raise money for foster kids, join our team! Register for the event and then inspire your friends to support you a dollar per kilometer that you walk or run. Here’s the link, and our team is called Missoinal Unity.

Register for the Fun Run

Adoption Complete!


Tierra had been waiting eight years to be adopted by a forever family. 100 days after being “adopted” by the people of Grace Fellowship, she was matched with a forever family! Along the way, people from the congregation prayed for her, offered her a mentor and piano lessons, and looked for ways to bless her. Her picture was placed in the lobby of the church so that every time a person entered the worship center they would be reminded of her. Only God knows how the prayers and support of Grace Fellowship led to her adoption . . .but what an honor for the church, and what joy for Tierra!

There are 1200 kids like Tierra in the foster care system in Palm Beach County, waiting for their forever family. The Children’s Home Society would love to place a picture of one of those kids in your church’s foyer. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if your church came alongside a child who is waiting for a forever family? Powerful for the child. And powerful for the church. It’s as easy as a phone call to my friend Linda Coffin (561-252-7400) who will help you and your church “adopt” a child.

Many churches in Palm Beach County are working together for the next year to help dramatically reduce the number of children in the foster care system who are looking for families. “Follow” this site to receive updates on how you can get involved!

Fast Food

No, not the kind that has silicone in the french fries.

I’m talking about a special food that will sustain you if you decide to join the many Christians in Palm Beach County who will be fasting and praying tomorrow, the first Wednesday of the month.

I know. An invitation to fast is about as exciting as an invitation to watch C-SPAN. But read the rest of this blog before you decide not to fast with us tomorrow . . .

Today I was texting my friend who is on a mission trip in California with forty 9th graders. This is the sixth day of the trip, and she asked for prayer because she had no energy left. I told her I would pray for her, and I reminded her of Jesus’ words:

“my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34)

She wrote back and said she needed that so bad that the tears were flowing.

What if you fasted from something tomorrow (all food, a certain food, a meal, whatever) AND did something you know is God’s will for you to do? Can you imagine being energized not by physical sustenance but by the energy that comes from doing what God put you on the earth to do?

The congregation I pastor is joining millions of other Christ-followers around the world by observing 40 days of Spiritual Renewal (some call it Lent). Haven’t done much during this “Lent” season? If you are a follower of Jesus, fasting tomorrow is a great way to be a part of the worldwide movement of people who are intentionally giving up some type of physical sustenance to do the will of Him who sent us and to accomplish His work.

BONUS: If you decide to fast . . . when you wake up in the morning, read the rest of Jesus’ words in John 4:35-38 as inspiration for what He can do through you as you are fasting.

5000 reasons why Jazz Nativity is my favorite event of the year

$5,000 raised for orphans . . . the first portion sent to an orphanage in India that cares for 17 children who suffer from HIV. 

Those are the first 5000 reasons why Jazz Nativity is my favorite event of the year.

Thank you to the 19 musicians, the tech team, and every other person who volunteered to make the event a great success!

To those who bought tickets and donated even more . . . on behalf of every one of those kids who will be blessed by your generosity, THANK YOU!

BONUS CHALLENGE: If you are planning an event soon . . . what if you made your next event missional by leveraging the event to help someone in need? Jazz Nativity would have been great even without the $5,000 for orphans. Great music and improvisation, the story of Jesus’ birth told creatively, crazy comedy . . .  and your event will be great too. But can you imagine the impact if you led those attending your event to join God’s mission?

Steve (2)

The First 2O Come O Come Emmanuel 1

Jazz Nativity for Free with Missional Activity (rhyming totally intentional)

Do you want the good news or the really good news first?

The Good News

The good news is that you can attend Jazz Nativity 2015, an evening of beautiful Christmas jazz in West Palm Beach, Florida for $15.  100% of your $15 will bless orphans around the world through One Child, a ministry of Grace Fellowship.

The REALLY Good News

OR, you can attend FOR FREE if you’re willing to go on mission between now and then. That’s right, you can “earn” your ticket by completing the Missional Challenge.

Here’s how to earn your free ticket:

  1. Follow (visit ~ click on the “Follow” button & enter your email ~ then we’ll send you an email asking you to confirm)
  2. Once you have confirmed we’ll send you instructions on how to complete the Missional Challenge by December 20th so you can earn your free ticket!


If you are still reading, allow us to state the obvious for all of you overachievers:
Yes! You can take the Missional Challenge and give $15 (or as much as you want) during the concert to bless orphans.  That’s really, really good news.

Check out highlights from Jazz Nativity 2014
to get excited about this year’s celebration
of the really, really, really good news about Jesus’ birth:

Jazz Nativity will be held at Grace Fellowship on December 20th at 6pm.


Who do you think should take care of unaborted babies?  Perhaps it’s the responsibility of people who put pro-life bumper stickers on their car, the facebook users who re-post pro-life videos, the ordinary people who try to persuade others of their pro-life views through everyday conversation.  In other words, it’s hypocrisy to be “for” the life of children when they are in the womb and to do nothing “for” those children once they are out of the womb.

Here’s a pro-life idea that will change your church and change the life of a child already out of the womb:

Grace Fellowship is adopting a fifteen year-old young girl named Tierra through the Palm Beach Heart Gallery.  Tierra is an honor-roll student, and she loves music and drama.  But she is one of 1200 foster kids in Palm Beach County who doesn’t have a forever home.  So the church is going to “adopt” her until she finds one.

The people of Grace Fellowship are going to pray for Tierra.  They’re going to pray she will find a forever family, and they’re going to pray for a forever family to open their home and heart to her.
In the meantime, the people of Grace Fellowship are going to love Tierra by finding a mentor for her, by inviting her to the church’s youth group, and by connecting her to a ministry the church sponsors that empowers teens to use their God-given gifts.  And that’s just the beginning!

Look into Tierra’s eyes, and you will see something far more beautiful and valuable than a child who was simply carried to full term. Look into her eyes, and you will see a child who our God loves with the same passion that He loves you and your own children. And God feels the same way about every one of the 1600 children in the foster care system in Palm Beach County.

Imagine if every church in our county adopted one of those children!  If you are part of a church, encourage your leaders to “adopt” a child.  Contact us to learn more about Grace Fellowship’s experience adopting Tierra.  What a powerful way to Join God’s Mission!