Last week I was in Columbus Ohio to join with our wider family of over 2000 churches in the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) of America. I loved eating wonderful food with many of our International Workers and reconnecting with friends. For today, I have a few random thoughts on busyness, the demise of denominations, summer study, followed by a teaser of an exciting upcoming announcement.
First, I must not allow busyness to crowd out the best. I came into Council weary. I found myself easily distracted, and my personal unseen times in God’s Word were not as rich as I wanted. My vision for God outstripped my vision of God. During extended times of worship and receiving God’s Word at General Council (video of all sessions here), the oil of God’s Spirit moistened dry and parched places to breathe on my dry bones and bring life. I also had a couple of great runs early in the morning in Columbus through the downtown area and by a river, and it was beautiful. Travel in new cities refreshes me. My time in God’s Word were rich and dripping with fresh insight. I am grateful and reinvigorated by times like this, and I am grateful.
Second, we are part of a global family called the Alliance. When I was younger I heard about the demise of denominations to be replaced by voluntary church networks like the Willow Creek Association and the Gospel Coalition. Yet such voluntary church networks lack infrastructure. They lack the strategic infrastructure to move God’s Word forward in the least reached places in the world and the disciplinary infrastructure to keep churches healthy over time in this country. I am particularly grateful for the good leadership of our President John Stumbo. He combines a genuine heart for God with an inspiring vision for the future and a realistic assessment of the present. His personal story is moving. We will have him at Wellspring in September. Wellspring now has two people who will serve on the Board of Directors in the coming years, and I am grateful for our wider family.
Third, after this coming Sunday, I am going to unplug from the pulpit for a month after our Annual Meeting. Each year I have found a need for two weeks of focused study to prepare an outline of sermon topics for the coming year, and then spend some focused time with my family. After preaching twice in Wheaton and once in Warrenville on June 11, I will next preach in Warrenville on July 16 and in Wheaton on July 23. Ouch. That feels really long to me as well! Yet I am encouraged by the rich lineup of speakers who will fill the pulpit from international workers like Rod and Christiana Van Schooten to Phil Vischer. Also we will kick off our #wearewellspring series in July, and our own pastors (Steve Hands, Cheryl Baird and Reggie Ramos) will speak on the areas of their own passion to lead us forward. During this season let us stay engaged together as Wellspring together in the life of the church — I am planning to do so, and I hope that you will too.
We also have exciting news to report this Sunday about our fiscal year which ended in May. I can’t wait to celebrate with you. Remember that our Annual Meeting is this Sunday at 5 PM; join us to celebrate what God has done this past year, thank leaders for their service and look forward to the next stage of our journey as Wellspring.