There is a powerful wind of inspiration that is blowing through our fellowship at the moment. This is truly an unprecedented time in our storied history. Leaders the world over are discussing, dreaming and praying about our future together as a fellowship. From Africa to Australia to Anchorage to the Andean mountains, families of churches are weighing in about their vision for where God is calling us. In our brotherhood we have 33 families of churches spanning every continent. The leadership of all 33 have plans to meet in the next few weeks, explicitly to consider these crucial concepts.
These discussions will include more than 1000 leaders. Young and old, rich and poor, elders, evangelists, teachers and administrators have joined into the same conversations around the globe. Staff and lay leaders from large and small churches have listened to each other and reasoned together as they have explored areas of common conviction and consensus. Never before have we experienced such a broad-based, grass roots engagement in this type of strategic effort.
We believe that God is clearly guiding us as we collectively claim the promise from Scripture: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” – James 1:5.
The results of these deliberations are beginning to flow in and will swell to a flood of information in the coming weeks. We want to make sure that everyone is clear about the process, and where we go from here. For context, we will back up a few months.
April 4-7, Dallas Texas: Spring Meeting ICOC Service Teams
- The Elders, Evangelists, Teachers and Administrators Service Teams as well as many of the largest church leaders gathered for their annual meetings. This year they collectively chose to spend the time together exploring possible steps forward for our fellowship.
- The Teachers team provided four background lessons which were made available for all Dallas participants prior to our time together. In Dallas, three proposals were presented for consideration and extensively discussed in “Tribes” (a group of about 10 leaders from diverse backgrounds).
- A great deal of consensus was found so a singular decision was made:
- We decided to send the exact same presentations and questions around the world to every family of churches to understand their perspective.
May 15 – July 10: Discussions in Global Families of Churches
- Every family of churches was provided with all materials used in the Dallas meeting including:
- The four lessons prepared by the teachers
- All three proposals as well as the devotionals
- The list of 25 questions that were connected with the three topics
- Each family of churches will complete a single survey reporting the results of their discussions by July 10
July 15: Preliminary Results of Global Discussions
- The results that have been reported will be tabulated and provided to every family of churches.
- Areas of strong consensus will be identified
- Taskforces will be assembled to address the areas of consensus
- Feedback from surveys will be carefully considered by taskforces
- Chairman for each taskforce will be announced including contact information
- Taskforces will be comprised of diverse teams from a geographical and church role perspective
- Contributions from any interested individuals can be submitted for consideration
August 15: Proposed Solutions Presented
- Proposals to address each area of consensus will be published and circulated to the brotherhood
- Comments and feedback will be invited for a period of one month
- Final proposals will be presented to the Regional Chairmen, Delegates and Service Teams
October 3-5, Chicago Delegates Meeting – Final Decisions
- The Delegates meeting will have 100% international representation for first time
- A “Global Report” lasting several hours will present results by continent
- ~ 100 additional “observer” places will be made available for non-delegates
- The entire event will be live streamed on DTV
- Final decisions on the proposals will be voted on by the Delegates
Change is emotional. Some find it exhilarating and others find it stressful. Change is an important part of growing. This process is called “Forward by Faith” ICOC 3.0 and we are really excited to search for the Lord’s will as we move forward. What thrills us about this process is that the Spirit is moving through these discussions in all of our languages and cultures.
Those in London, Lagos and Los Angeles can all consider these exact same concepts and even the same questions. Moscow, Manila and the Middle East will evaluate these issues from their own spiritual, cultural perspective. Boston, Bangalore and Brazil will all have an equal voice. It is humbling and inspiring to think that each of our families accounts for only 3% of our fellowship. Truly we have been blessed with a global fellowship. Thanks for all you are doing in your part of the world and the “extra mile” effort you have provided to make the exploration a reality. If you need anything, please let us know.
Please pray for God to guide us.
These are exciting times,
Ed Anton, Doug Arthur, Walter Evans
Chairman – Teachers, Evangelists, Elders service teams