I want to spend several weeks exploring the idea of where we are right now in the CGGC, particularly as we anticipate looking forward into the future and discerning where the Lord wants us to go and what He wants us to do as His people. Some of what I share will be from a broader view – where the CGGC reflects what’s going on across the larger evangelical church in North America. At other times, the sense will be much more specific to the CGGC and where we find ourselves in this critical moment.
Have you ever been outside the United States? How broad is your view of the world? How accurate is your perspective of the world outside the U.S.? I think I was approaching thirty before I first ventured outside the U.S. Every trip I’ve made outside the U.S. has taught me much about my own life, my expectations, and my faith in Jesus. As a matter of fact, I’m hard pressed to remember a trip outside the U.S. that hasn’t impacted my faith in some way or another. Seeing Jesus through the eyes of another culture has often challenged and developed my faith in rich, unexpected and profound ways.
One of the major trends we see going on in our world that is certainly reflected in what we see taking place in the CGGC is the importance of the Global Church and how the Spirit of God is working in other places in the world. Christianity is no longer being led from Europe and North America, but instead from South America, Asia and Africa. While we struggle along in North America, our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are seeing tremendous spiritual breakthrough. Some of the most difficult places in the world, where believers in Jesus are either facing real persecution or enormous challenges, are the very places where we are currently seeing some of our most exciting growth. People are coming to faith in Jesus, lives are being transformed, churches are being established and the kingdom of God is being experienced. God’s kingdom is advancing in the midst of enormous challenge and opposition.
We will very soon reach the point in the Churches of God, General Conference where the size of the work outside the United States will overshadow the work inside the U.S. This is good news because the majority of the population of the world resides outside the U.S.
This reality should have us reflect on several important matters as we think about where we are at this moment in our history.
- Our posture towards our brothers and sisters around the world must change. Sometimes we’re prone to think of ourselves as the experts or as the ones who should be teaching the rest of the world what it means to follow Jesus. While we have something to offer, we need to realize that our brothers and sisters from around the world have much to offer us – they can teach us more than we can teach them. Our posture should be that of a student and as a fellow learner.
- Why would you want to miss out on what God is doing? I’m always saddened by congregations that don’t take any interest in what God is doing outside our country’s borders (or even outside of their local community). God is on the move. He’s at work in some amazing ways and I can’t imagine why anyone who loves and follows Jesus would want to miss out on getting to see it for themselves or partnering in that kind of life changing work. If you’re not working somewhere else in the world then you’re missing out on a major piece of what the Lord is doing in our day and age.
- Why aren’t we seeing the same kinds of spiritual breakthrough in our own communities, states and country? Is it a lack of faith on our part? Is it a lack of prayer, spiritual passion or commitment? Is it our self-reliance or our lack of relying upon the Holy Spirit? Is it because our great wealth and power blind us to our need for Jesus? How do we position ourselves to experience the same kind of move of the Spirit that brothers and sisters across the globe are experiencing today? What needs to happen in order for spiritual breakthrough to happen here? What can we learn from brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world?
On one hand, we certainly need to rejoice in what God is doing around the globe. We’re living in one of the most exciting times to follow Jesus. At the same time, we ought to be asking God to position us to experience the same spiritual breakthrough in our own communities, states and country. What do we need to do to prepare for such a move of the Spirit of God? I want to be ready.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 10