I took three weeks to reflect on the World Congress on Evangelism. It was an interesting conference. The speakers were for the most part pretty good, and I applaud the Congress on its choices. I didn't care for the main speaker as he seemed to be advocating some sort of return to Modernism and Doctrinal theology that "we can't translate into post-Modern culture." Apparently, the Gospel only fits in Modern philosophies [insert rolling eyes].
That being said, the conference was amazingly forward thinking for a Methodist event.
I have a few major learning points from the conference. This is the #1 thing I brought home:
Tyrone Gordon, a black pastor of a thriving church in the Great Plains, shared a story of an organist's attempt to bully him in his first appointment as an associate pastor. "We've never done that, we're not doing that, and as long as I'm here, we won't EVER do that!" His solution: He brought in special music for his first Sunday, which was warmly accepted by the church...His point: Too often we get wrapped up in the debate "By what authority do you do these things?" (the same question asked of Peter and John in Acts). It's time to move beyond this. The Great Commission has been given. Authority has been given. It's not time to tread cautiously, but boldy and decisively!
Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC, said this: "There are somethings I don't leave up to a vote. We just do it...Some of the opposition in churches is based on a demonic stranglehold within society. We don't compromise or argue with demons, we exorcise them...Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward. We went from 100 to 60 in our first year, but that reduction is what allowed us to go forward." For those unfamiliar with Ginghamsburg, I think they're averaging around 3000 now.
Sometimes, being a leader means making tough choices or saying the hard truths, but that is the responsibility of the leader. I've given a lot of thought about these comments, and while they are shocking for many in the church to hear...I think they're spot on. In the church we've tried so desperately to please everyone, especially the "noisy few." Where does it say this is the role of the Church in Scripture?
Our mission is clear: Make disciples of Jesus Christ. Anything that impedes that mission is not from God, and is by definition anti-God. Maybe not intentionally, but nonetheless, it is anti-God. Anti-Christ. We've allowed this spirit to live too long in our churches. It's time to follow Jesus, to be bold, and to step out in faith...knowing that there will be obstructionists along the way.