CityLife: Incarnational Prayer, Discipleship, Evangelism


Phil Miglioratti @ The Reimagine.Network Interviewed Gary Jennings of City Life


“I am praying today for the American Church for the foundations that don’t look like Jesus will crumble,

and as a result, a mighty army of disciplemakers will rise in obedience to see disciple making movements

sweep across our land from sea to shining sea.”


PHIL>>> Gary, how does this statement fuel your passion for ministry?


GARY>>> Phil, I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. The only hope for the Church to fulfill the Great Commission is to obey Jesus’ final command to make disciples, not converts. Converts rarely make disciples. Disciples make disciplemakers. The bottom line for CityLife is to make and multiply disciplemakers in and through apartments. This is our role and responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission which will transform apartments from properties to communities. In other words, disciplemakers are world changers. They find out where God is working and join Him in His work, His plan to redeem the world to Himself. CityLife is our response to living a life of obedience in apartment living. 


The way we do that is to practice the principles of disciple making movements to first and foremost, pray and fast. Secondly, we serve with purpose and that purpose is to find apartment employees and residents who are Luke 10 persons of peace. We also start Discovery Bible Studies with lost people to disciple them towards conversion. Finally, we multiply everything we do. We call it “embracing multiplication.” 


We have to make paradigm shifts in our churches to fulfill the Great Commission through multiplication. 


"How in the world can we build community in a place that is lost, fragile, needy, chaotic, unfriendly, and hopeless?" 



PHIL>>> Help us reimagine ... How would you coach church leaders to rethink "church?"


GARY>>> Phil, we coach church leaders all the time to rethink or rewire their “churched up” thinking to a more Kingdom mindset. CityLife is not a church but we intentionally partner with churches, nonprofits and business leaders to create a “coalition of the willing” that my dear friend, Cecil Seagle, shared with me many years ago. The church should not be an “island unto themselves.” The Church is a living organism embodied by believers who call themselves Christians to obey the Mission that God calls every church to fulfill. We cannot fulfill Jesus’ final command by ourselves. We must cooperate, coordinate and collaborate to make and multiply disciplemakers. 


So, we challenge church leaders to get back to the one thing that we are all commanded to do and that is to make and multiply disciplemakers. I believe strongly and passionately in the 7 Realities of Experiencing God as an example of what we coach. We also coach church leaders to really evaluate and assess what is going on in their church and community. We ask the right questions of church leaders so they can discover on their own if they are on the right track of making and multiplying disciplemakers. 


Most of what church leaders do in disciple-making is knowledge-based discipleship. We embrace obedience-based disciple-making using simple, reproducible tools that anyone can use. 


Finally, we advocate that clergy is not the focus in fulfilling the Great Commission. What happened in the book of Acts never would’ve happened if it had depended on the clergy. We have to get back to equipping and empowering ordinary people to become disciplemakers who become world changers. 


CityLife models these realities in apartments which are micro mission fields. We also offer mission teams to come to “taste and see” so they can go back to their churches and communities to make and multiply disciplemakers in and through apartments or wherever God leads them. 

{ Read more>>>  about this miistry initiative}



PHIL>>> Help us reassess how to make disciples in the 21st century. What question(s) do we need to begin with?


GARY>>> Phil, the first question is what is a disciple? The answer is in God’s Word. I love the simple definition that a disciple team at LifeWay came up with several years ago which is a great summary of thoughts. A disciple… “is someone who thinks and acts like Jesus.” 


Other questions I use in making and multiplying disciplemakers are.

  • Are you doing knowledge-based discipleship or obedience-based disciple-making?
  • Are you praying and fasting to find out where God is working so you can join Him in His work?
  • Are you disciple-making principles transferable to any culture? Socio-economic group? 
  • Will your disciple-making “system” multiply?  
  • What is the role of a disciplemaker? 
  • Pastor, are you trying to disciple your church all by yourself from the pulpit? 
  • How is your church and community being transformed by your disciple-making efforts?
  • Share with me how disciple-making in your church is fulfilling the Great Commission? 
  • How do you make disciples who make disciples who make disciples?
  • Do you believe that God’s Word is as powerful as we say it is? 
  • Do you see every person that you come in contact with as a potential disciple-maker?
  • Are you investing in the right people to make and multiply disciplemakers?
  • What is the role of “discovery” in your disciple-making or are you just telling people what to believe? 
  • Is prayer your highest priority?
  • Are you willing to consider paradigm shifts in transforming your church into a mission center? 
  • Is your hope for your church dependent on you or the Holy Spirit and His Word?
  • Would you be willing to evaluate your church’s budget to see where resources are going to do church? What does your budget say about your church’s commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission?


Phil, these are some of the questions we share with church leaders as they come under our influence and coaching. We desperately want church leaders to discover God’s plan for fruitful disciple-making instead of giving them a plan. There are only a few times that we are prescriptive. The majority of our coaching is using methods that lead to discovery. We don't prescribe. We coach to discover. 



PHIL>>> From our ministry time together I know you view prayer as vital/initial to church, ministry, everything ...


GARY>>> Thank you, Phil, for observing that. Let me pause to say that you, Claude King, Shodankeh Johnson and my Mom are the four people in my life that I point to for inspiring me to be a man of prayer and to have a ministry of intercession. Thank you, Phil, for investing in me by living out your passion in front of me and thousands of others. 


I would hasten to say that I’ve always been a doer. Yes, pray and then do. However, the “do-ing” became a distraction. With good intentions, I have always been so grateful to the Lord for saving me so I want to work for Him. That resulted in me losing the opportunity to have an intimate love relationship with the Father. 


My dear friend, Shodankeh Johnson, who is a disciple-making movement leader in Sierra Leone, say that “prayer is the work!” I believe that is true. I practice that personally. I spend much time in prayer about everything so CityLife can be a part of His work and plan. Praying and fasting is a lifestyle because it is my fellowship with Him that is at the core of my life, family and ministry. Praying and fasting keeps me in the center of His will as long as I obey what He is saying to me or showing me in His Word. 


I love what E.M. Bounds says. “Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.” He also says… “The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer.”


I want everyday of my life to be filled with answered prayers from the God of the Bible!!!



PHIL>>> Describe the difference between networking and partnering...


GARY >>> I’ll try to keep this simple. Networking means that I have a pool of people resources that may be a solution to an issue or opportunity I or others have. Partnership is totally different. There are people in my life that I trust who will work with me to accomplish a goal in fulfilling the Great Commission. This is super simple but I believe it communicates that you have to have both in expanding God’s Kingdom.  



PHIL >>> ... and explain why both are essential to effective ministry.


GARY >>> Phil, allow me to answer your question with an illustration. I was in the leasing office of an apartment complex one day when he asked me to help him do the Angel Tree Project for kids in his apartments. He told me they would not have much of a Christmas if he didn’t do something to provide a good Christmas for them. First of all, the manager is in my network. Now, he just became a partner. I was his solution to making this happen. He was a solution (more of an answered prayer) to get the Gospel to children and their families. We are now partners in the mission of making and multiplying disciplemakers by serving families at Christmas time. 


12244741253?profile=RESIZE_584xThis illustration goes deeper in having networks and partnerships. My first step was creating a spreadsheet of the needs/wishes they shared. Then, I shared that spreadsheet with folks in my network of friends, churches and family. God answered our prayers through our networks who became partners in the goal of providing Christmas gifts at The Flats Apartments. Here are the results…

  • 91 kids from 38 families were served
  • 7 churches partnered with us to meet this need.
  • 8 delivery drivers shuttle almost 80 large bags of gifts and 21 bikes. 
  • We had $4000 given to this project on top of the gifts. We decided to give each family a Christmas food bag as well. 
  • We had around 80 people involved in this one project who gave time, Christmas gifts, money and drivers to make this happen. 


It was a network of relationships that provided the partners to serve these 38 families at Christmas time. That has made an impact on the lives of everyone involved. We have been able to partner with many of those same volunteers since then because they believe in God’s mission to love people to Jesus. 


"CityLife works with apartment management companies and teams to serve the holistic needs of their residents."

"Part 1 - Building Relationships • Part 2 - Building Trust • Part 3 - Build Community"



PHIL >>> Tell us about your current mission: "serving apartments | building communities" ... and how churches/ministries can apply the core concepts that drive the vision.


GARY >>> Phil, that tagline was the result of prayer in trying to provide a handle for both apartment management and CityLife partners and friends to understand that we are there to stay. Our “customer” is the apartment manager and/or team. We intentionally work with apartment management because they have a business model that is supposed to provide hospitality to keep their residents from leaving. They lost a LOT of money when their residents leave. They keep losing money if that apartment if they don’t put another resident in that same apartment. So, their business model is to make lots of money through retention.  


We come along to build a relationship with apartment management by asking two fundamental questions. The first one is “how can we pray for you?” This is super important for them to know that we are a faith-based nonprofit (not a church) that believes that prayer is essential. Over time, the apartment management (non-Christians and believers) see and hear about how God answered our prayers for them personally, their jobs, their families, and even their residents. 


The second question we ask apartment management is “how can we serve you?” One of our goals at CityLife is to make the manager and his/her team to be the heroes to their residents. Apartment management has to provide some type of hospitality to their residents to keep them happy, engaged and enjoy apartment living. Honestly, they are not very creative in their planning and they are terrible in executing their plan. CityLife has 40+ years experience in event planning so we know how to make things happen for their apartment community. In most cases, the apartment management sees us as partners in building a community. They see us as chaplains, community development specialists, event coordinators, and prayer warriors for their employees and residents. 


We know that the only way that an apartment becomes a real community is to make and multiply disciplemakers. We build lasting, authentic friendships with management so they trust us with just about everything including allowing us to walk with them in their business model. The crazy thing is that when we have their trust they give us a blank slate to do just about anything we want to do. The apartment management team publicizes every event we do in partnership with them. They give us access to meet, greet and build relationships with their residents. This allows us to become partners with the management team which takes care of multiple issues including loitering restrictions. They even invite us to go around to knock on doors to publicize our events. Just the other day we had a mission team from South Carolina that prayer walked one of our apartments. I went in to meet the assistant manager who is now a close friend to tell him that we are on the property prayerwalking. His response was so encouraging. He said, “thank you for praying for us!” 


To summarize, we do all kinds of hospitality and serve events in partnership with apartment management because they trust us. In some cases early on, they didn’t really trust us but they were desperate in providing hospitality to their residents. Those experiences led to deep trust because we executed the plan with excellence and love. 


CityLife cares holistically for each employee and resident of an apartment. That allows us to do all kinds of things/events that will benefit their residents. We are currently partnering with a nonprofit that does an after school program for K-4th graders on Monday-Wednesday in one apartment. We are currently doing a beginner computer class for adults on Fridays in partnership with a nonprofit that will give them a laptop at the end of the 6 week class. We have done summer children’s reading programs, summer camps for kids, summer VBS, and many other things that are ALL in partnership with the apartment management company and team. We even have one apartment management company that invites us to serve their apartment management employee company picnic each year. All of these “access ministries” give us the opportunity to find persons of peace and start Discovery Groups. 


Our CityLife commitment to serve apartments also provides churches, nonprofits, mission teams and business leaders to do Kingdom work together in partnership to fulfill the Great Commission. 

A final illustration of what this means comes from a conversation that I had with a brand new assistant manager of an apartment close to my house. I was introduced to him by his manager because one of his roles as the assistant manager is to be “resident-relations.” I shared with him what CityLife does, which is to work directly and intentionally with apartment management teams to help them serve their residents well in building a community. I also shared with him that we are faith-based and we want to make him and the team the heroes to his residents. He loved that. My final introductory remark was that although we are faith-based we were not there to take people to church. CityLife is committed to bring the Church to the apartment. I was shocked at his response. “Gary, isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?” YES!!! That conversation was back in April 2023. He and I hug each other every time we see each other. He loves God and is very active in his church here in Hendersonville, TN. He is an answer to prayer for us to work together as partners to get the Gospel to every resident in his 364 units. Only God!!!



PHIL>>> One more thing ... tell us about your vision of prayewalks in cities and communities across the United States. 


GARY>>> The vision of a National Apartment PrayerWalk Day is to mobilize the Church in teams of two’s and three’s to prayerwalk apartments near where people live, work or worship. 

It is our prayer that a National Apartment PrayerWalk Day will raise awareness with individuals, churches, faith-based nonprofits and Christian business leaders that 50% of the population in the United States lives in an apartment community. The staggering stat is that 95% of those who live in apartments are lost without Christ as Savior and Lord. Every apartment complex is a mission field without a doubt and it is harvest time! 

The reality is that apartment communities are not only “mission fields” but they are spiritual warzones! We firmly believe that prayer movements precede disciple making movements. A day set aside to prayerwalk is an expression of the ministry of intercession and is the best opportunity we have to push back against spiritual darkness that exists in apartments.  

We know from God’s Word that prayer is the foundation for everything we do so we desire for apartment communities to be flooded with prayer teams to cover as many apartments in the US as possible with His power, protection and conviction. We also pray that God’s people will pray and obey to hear what God is already doing so they can join Him in His plan to transform apartments by making and multiplying disciplemakers.


PHIL>>> Gary, write a prayer we can each pray that will help us be open to rethinking by the leading of the Holy Spirit.


GARY>>> Dear Lord, oh God of all creation, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Would you stir the hearts of every believer to be an obedient follower of Christ who thinks and acts like Jesus in their life, family, work and community? God, awaken the soul of the Church to re-establish their commitment to fulfill Jesus’ final command at all costs in and through the relationships and influences we have on people in our lives as well as those we meet. May Your Church be a house of prayer to always be in the center of Your will, not to get God on our agenda. I pray, dear Father, that our churches help people discover the God of the Bible and not just tell people what to believe. I also pray, Lord, that churches would be more Kingdom-driven to work together with like-minded churches, nonprofits and business leaders. Finally, O God, I pray that every believer would become a disciple-maker who makes and multiplies disciplemakers and that they become great storytellers of how God has transformed their lives to our lost world around us. Your will be done, Lord!!!

I pray this with urgency and in the strong and holy name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen!!!







Incarnational Discipleship


Onsite Prayer


Relational Evangelism



√My Interview with Gary Jennings,

Church Ministry Strategist




√Missional Case Study




√CityLife: Bringing Life to Communities



√CityLife Newsletter



√Sample Apartment Commuity Prayer Guide



Strategic Planning: Adopt An Apartment Community







CityLife works with apartment management companies and teams to serve the holistic needs of their residents.

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  • City Life Prayer Guide 


    Your prayers were the foundation of all that happened last week at
    MissionLab 615. We could not have had a more successful first-time experience in apartment ministry immersion.

    Also, I want to thank WEBC Mission Team for making the sacrifice to come learn how CityLife does apartment ministry and make disciples who make disciples. This team was absolutely the best we could’ve ever imagined to be our very first “Guinea pig” mission team to launch ML615! They prayed continuously, served compassionately, loved others deeply and sacrificed greatly. We love this team beyond words. We will never be the same as a result of their willingness and obedience to be the inaugural mission team.

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    They represented Christ by demonstrating His love and passion to apartment children, apartment residents, and employees. They represented their church by living out and obeying the Great Commission to everyone they came in contact ready and willing to share the Good News of the Gospel! It was inspiring to watch them care and share our Lord with others!

    We love WEBC very much and are so excited to see what God does in and through you in Gaffney, Blacksburg and beyond. Thank you for coming our way. We are praying for you as you continue to “pray and obey!” Thank you, Pastor Michael McCurry and Joe Brownlee for trusting us!!!

    What an awesome experience!!!

                      Serving Apartments | Building Communities

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    For His Glory!

    Gary B. Jennings
    Executive Director, CityLife
    (615) 431-9645



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