09 Jul Reflections from National Conference
Been awhile since I have made an entry to this blog. I’m afraid I only have excuses and not valid reasons. But I wanted to reflect a little bit about the recent National Conference 2007.
First, let me say that it far exceeded my expectations. Maybe I had low expectations, but I don’t think so. Rather, I believe that God showed up in power at the conference.
While I realize that parts of the overall program were not received as well as others, the evaluations filled out by the attenders were extremely positive. For that I am thankful. I felt it was a great time for the United Brethren Church, a much-needed time of challenge, inspiration, fun, and seeing old friends. But I really believe God did something in our hearts during those days. I have great optimism for our future. Especially if we take to heart what we heard about evangelism and discipleship…which should be the emphasis of a church’s ministry.
I know we have had discussion in the past about small churches and large churches. But in reading the Great Commission again, I don’t find anything about size there. It just says we are to make disciples. Making disciples involves evangelism, education, and enlisting (baptism) of those who do not yet follow Jesus. The Great Commission is not a large church thing or a big church thing. It is an obedience thing.
Regardless of the size of a church, I really don’t understand how anyone can believe they are being obedient to Jesus when year after year the annual report shows no converts or baptisms. It really isn’t about size. It is about being obedient to Jesus. I don’t think it is even a church thing. It really is an individual thing. So the question is not so much about the church but about me as an individual. Is my life being lived so that people are coming to Christ and being built up in him because of my Christian walk. Isn’t that the real issue?
Really, what is the church but the people? The church isn’t an organization, although it needs to be organized. So when churches report zero conversions and zero baptisms, isn’t that a reflection on the individuals in that church? I know that sounds hard, but isn’t it the truth?
One thing that really blessed my heart at the National Conference was the number of people who nailed something to the cross on Sunday. That was a moving time for me. I was at the front and could hear how people pounded the nail into their slip of paper to pin it to the cross. Tears were shed as hearts were moved. Some people have reported to me what they nailed to the cross and the difference that commitment has made in their lives. That was as near “revival” as I have been for some time, and quite honestly I covet that more and more in my life and in the life of our church. We really do need a real revival.
While I appreciated that time, I know that the real test of revival is when we all get back home. Did anything change about how I live my life, how I react to my unsaved friends and relatives, how I go about my everyday life? We need a revival in many of our churches so that hearts will be changed…but the revival can’t stay in the church building. We must take it to our communities, to the barber shop or beauty shop, to the service station when we buy our gas, to the neighbor next door, to the person who takes our money at the local Burger King, to the classmate in school, to the family reunion…. “As you go about from place to place, don’t forget, MAKE Disciples.” When we truly get serious about that, we will see revival like we have not experienced it ever before. I don’t know about you, but my heart yearns for that!