Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Each year since 2003, the International Leadership Conference (ILC) has served as a barometer of the health of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC). By the grace of God, each year has seen a significant step of faith. This year was a leap. More churches represented. More unity. More new speakers. More cooperative spirit. More openness among church leaders. More baptisms. More church plantings. More faith. Less fear.
God gathered 1,212 registered attendees from 54 nations Thursday through Sunday, September 3-6 to be inspired and challenged by the theme “As I Have Loved You.” The Denver Church of Christ were incredible hosts as over 250 Colorado disciples served in giving over 3,000 hours of volunteer work to make this possible.
About 100 Delegates and many observers met Monday and Tuesday before the ILC for remarkable cooperation. Here are some observations:
Powerful lessons were preached on Unity, Mission, Doctrine. You can listen to these at www.icocconference.org
Decisions were made:
·To replace the Church Builders Service Team with an expanded Evangelists Service Team of 18 evangelists selected by their regions to better lead the way in evangelizing the world.
· Major decisions will be made in concert with the Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers Service Teams to fulfill the Ephesians 4 paradigm.
· All ICOC Service Teams will continue to serve in their needs areas and be coordinated by the Chairmen Service Team.
· To make Disciples Today the official media of the ICOC churches. Each first world church is asked to contribute $6 per member per year. At the request of several third world leaders, each third world church over 500 is asked to contribute $2 per member per year. This will support Disciples Today at a base level. As soon as those commitments are received by DToday, they will be able to drop the annual subscription fee for DToday.org
· To support HOPE worldwide’s International Day of Giving in November 2009.
INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
The International Churches of Christ are about 92,000 members in 550 churches in 150 countries. 80,000 members belong to churches committed to the Cooperation Plan. More are committing each week. See www.icoccoop.org
Many churches have begun to grow again. Our largest congregation is the Los Angeles International Church of Christ with 5,300 members through whom God has baptized and restored 1,250 souls in the last two years. Over 350 churches are under 100 in membership.
Most of the main speakers gave their first keynote sermon to the ILC. They were Asian, Latin, Black, White, African. Many new voices spoke on the program along with the seasoned wisdom of older ones.
The vulnerability of Dinesh George of India and Pedro Garcia of LA. The passion of Kevin Miller, campus minister in Boston. The candid exposition of Ben Barnett, the love of the Word of Arturo Elizararas; the conviction of Gordon Ferguson, the challenge of John Lusk.
·Delegates met on Thursday afternoon with leaders from their region to pass on crucial information and make plans to move forward with the gospel.
·Each morning began with significant expositions of the Scriptures.
·Longer workshops gave time for several speakers and question and answer to address crucial needs.
·Difficult issues were addressed like racism and conflict resolution.
·Over 3,400 people joined the ILC on the internet through the newly released DToday.tv
From a production standpoint, this conference was flawless with the best staging, sound and lighting to date. It was the first conference where the crew was the best dressed group in the room. Thanks to Carlos Ortega and Hans Rasmussen.
Thanks to the Colorado Churches in Denver, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs. Many members took off from time from their jobs to serve. The program was flawless. Director Wade Cook was an excellent emcee. This ILC was the earliest organized to date. Thanks to the ILC host committee and the elders and staff of the Denver Church of Christ.
The South Florida Church of Christ invited everyone to the 2010 ILC in Miami September 23-26 for The Mission. The Delegates meeting will be September 21-22.
An exciting new development is a super conference planned for 2012 to be held somewhere in the USA. The ILC, International Campus Ministry Conference, International Conference of Youth and Family Ministry and the International Singles Conference will all be held in the same city, combining for evening celebrations.
Our movement has seen incredible miracles of God and his hand of discipline. Now we are seeing God’s promised harvest of righteousness and peace among our leaders:
·A passionate, wise older generation of leaders over 50 who have planted churches across the world and have been refined by fire. Raising up new leaders, as Mike Taliaferro says: “I won’t give you my torch, but I will gladly light yours.”
·A new generation of leaders from 30 to 50 is stepping up. They have been faithful and have vision for the future of the church.
·A young generation of passionate teens, campus, young singles and young marrieds symbolized by the ICMC theme, “The World Will Know.”
Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Leaps of faith are back.