During the week of October 7-11, representatives of our fellowship of 700 churches from around the world gathered for the annual ICOC Delegates’ Meeting. (Note: Beginning in 2020 this meeting will take place once every two years). Expertly and graciously hosted by the San Diego church, over 250 men, women, and “next-generation” delegates, Service Team members, and observers from ICOC churches came together for a packed week of prayer, biblical preaching, meetings, discipleship and fellowship.
Our ICOC churches are grouped into 33 geographic and relationally connected families, each coordinated by a Regional Family Chairman and Chairwoman. Each Regional Family of churches is allotted a certain number of delegates based on the size of their membership. Last year the ICOC delegates affirmed the formation of the Catalyst Team: seven of whom were chosen by the Regional Chairmen and the other six from the Elders Service Team (2), Teachers Service Team (1), Women’s Service Team (2), and the Mission Society Task Force (1). The Catalyst Team serves by facilitating and empowering effective discussion and cooperation between the Regional Family Chairs in the areas that we all agree are essential for the health and development of our churches and are necessary to spur us forward. Six “Task Forces” have been established since then by the Catalyst Team and the Regional Chairs, to prepare proposals and plans for the delegates to approve.
On Monday, October 7, The Administration Service Team, The Teachers Service Team, The Youth and Family Service Team, and the Catalyst Team each held a day of meetings. At dinnertime on Monday evening, the 33 Regional Chair couples and the Catalyst Team met for an evening session, where Harliem and Vania Salim (Jakarta) and AT and Marci Arneson (Chicago) led the group in an inspirational time in the Scriptures, powerfully preaching and sharing on the topic of “Incomparable Power” from Ephesians 1.
The next morning, Vince Hawkins (Colombia, Missouri) sat the Regional Chairs and Catalyst Team (a group of about 65) in a circle and set the tone for the day with a bonding and deeply spiritual “dwelling in the Word” exercise. His reading came from Ephesians 1 and everyone engaged in active listening and self-reflection before God. The rest of the day was spent discussing a list of topics suggested by the Regional Chairs:
- Clarification of roles and terms in our current system of church governance:
- Catalyst Team – Coordinate and catalyze;
- Service Teams – Provide expertise, advice, advocacy;
- Regional Family Chairmen – Represent and connect us around the world;
- Delegates – Deliberate and decide.
- How best to partner Regional Family Chairs with one another to promote growth, unity and regional health.
- Plans for upcoming and future international conferences (global and by continental groups), including next year’s Orlando Vision Conference 2020.
- Communication – Roger Lamb, founder of Disciples Today and Chairman of our Communication Service Team, will retire next year. Disciples Today requested collaboration with the Regional Chairs and Catalyst Team in their transition.
- Update on HOPE worldwide’s current search process for a new CEO.
Service Teams and Task Forces continued to meet throughout the day on Tuesday and Tuesday evening.
Wednesday morning was the beginning of the Delegates Conference. Ameer Burton, ministry intern and Masters’ theology student from LA’s Antelope Valley region led a dynamic biblical devotional on being “Alive With Christ” from Ephesians 2. The rest of the day was spent in progress reports from various Task Forces and Service Teams with time for discussion and questions after each one. Highlights included:
- Women’s Service Team – Launching a new website for ICOC women womentoday.net , and worldwide women’s webinars.
- Next Gen – Injecting more young people into our worldwide delegate structure and empowering them in their leadership
- Communication – Planning the first Global Communication Conference in Orlando 2020 to share best practices and train communicators in more effective use of the internet. Immediate goal is an explosion of “Online Evangelism.”
- Church Health and Growth – Promoting the health of ministers and health of congregations.
- Unity – The Unity Task Force is issuing a challenge for all of us to do all we can to work out any and all relational issues before we gather in Orlando
- Global Missions – Coordinating our Mission Societies. Counting up to 1000 churches (from our current 700) and counting down the countries that still remain without a church planting.
On Wednesday evening, a church builders’ workshop for all attendees began with a visionary and personal lesson by Mike and Tess Fontenot (Sydney), “The Manifold Wisdom of God Made Known,” from Ephesians 3. All day Thursday there were lessons and classes to choose from, on topics such as guiding principles for conflict resolution; instilling spiritual principles and practices in our churches; developing leaders’ use of gifts, trust and involvement; biblical preaching, teaching and inspiration.
Friday morning’s closing session included an informational update from Marshall Mead, who, along with his team and the church in Orlando is organizing next year’s Vision 2020 conference. There was clarification of any questions remaining.
Anthony Galang concluded the week with an inspiring message, “Finally Be Strong in the Lord,” from Ephesians 6, which left everyone laughing and crying and inspired by the story and practical details about the Honolulu church’s process to form and articulate its vision for the near future.
The next global ICOC leadership meeting will take place in February 2020 in Jakarta, primarily for Regional Family Chair Couples and the Catalyst Team. The goal of that meeting will be to provide an opportunity for Task Forces to work face to face and to continue work on Orlando Vision 2020.