By Bishop David Kendall
GC 11 is now history. Clearly, however, history is “His story” which continues steadily toward “kingdom-come!” GC 11 as an event has concluded, but as a gathering and mobilization of part of Jesus’ movement in the world, GC 11 has only just begun.
As the event began, we called ourselves to celebrate. First, Bishop David Roller reminded us that in the 21st century although much remains the same, much has changed. Our obedience to the call of God requires us to engage the world as it is, and thus our business must not be “business as usual.” Then, Bishop Matt Thomas invited us into the creative process of inventing, improvising and designing with confidence that “we can do this!” Finally, I reminded us that our business as unusual makes us co-designers with God and will depend on God doing among us what, in fact, God has done repeatedly. God speaks to the people in powerfully creative ways.
As the week unfolded we found much to celebrate. God did speak, and it did become “business as unusual” as participants from across the nation and around the world thought, prayed, listened, learned and then imagined a God-given future for the Free Methodist Church – USA. Then, they summarized and formulated reports to the entire GC assembly.
The outcomes of this “business as unusual,” among other things, led four ministry groups to propose:
• Embracing a new norm flowing from Holy Spirit shaking, to which all leadership groups will be accountable for creative, frontline ministries of all sorts, lay-led ministries in all places, but particularly targeted to the great urban centers of the country.
• Devising a comprehensive urban church planting strategy that would promote vision, resources, and accountability to the entire Free Methodist Church – USA.
• Taking seriously the United States as a mission field and, therefore, to do whatever ministries we do as missionaries.
• Equipping all of our people to do cross-cultural ministry.
• Providing a way to raise up, resource, authorize and deploy the next generations for FM ministry and leadership.
GC 11 as an event unfolded in the context of prayer, worship and the proclamation of God’s word. Prayer centers literally united the campus grounds as prayer tents became holy places where many sought God and God’s grace for their own needs, as well as congregational, denominational, local community and world needs. At the beginning and end of each day, our conference worshipped God. We celebrated what God has done in our 150 years as Free Methodist people, what God is now doing, and what God wants to do as we determine to obey his word to us.
Our celebration leads us to anticipate what the Lord of the church will do among and through us. That anticipation now deepens our passion to initiate wise and powerful processes that will channel our obedience into redeeming and transforming mission in service to the whole gospel for the whole world and the whole person.
The Board of Bishops remains in awe of the opportunities before us, and of our people’s eagerness to embrace all that God has for us and for our world through us in coming years. Stay tuned!