By Doug Beacham
This article was published in the June/July 2017 issue of Encourage.
As we prepare for this quadrennial event, I draw your attention to some aspects of the General Conference that are important for us as a global movement.
First, we gather to worship the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, with a worship service and a celebration of Holy Communion. I hope many of you around the world will join us via live stream at http://iphc.org/live.
We will have three evening worship services, culminating on Friday night, July 28, with the installation of the new Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops and the message of the General Superintendent. During the days on Thursday and Friday we will hear the Word of the Lord, we will hear instruction and we will join with IPHC leaders around the world for intercessory prayer.
It is important that we recognize that worship is the primary and foundational act of the General Conference. Worship draws our attention to God and His mission to redeem the world through His Son Jesus Christ. Worship draws our attention to the presence of the Holy Spirit and His mission to equip and empower us for ministry to the world. Worship draws our attention to the holiness of God and His desire that we be a people who manifest His holy love to this sin-damaged world.
Second, only through worship can we engage the business of the church. Worship reminds us that the administration of Christ’s church is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 (NKJV) Paul lists apostles, prophets, teachers, then miracles, gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and varieties of tongues as spiritual gifts operating in and for the body of Christ.
Notice the abundance of plural forms in this list. God is not limited to just one way to “help.” The plural tells us that every believer has a role and every need has a supply!
The word translated “administrations” is a term used to describe a captain guiding a sea vessel. It denotes a journey and a goal. It implies a cargo and a purpose. It describes the kinds of decisions and wisdom needed to safely lead to the desired end.
Thus, when we gather for our business, we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is at work “guiding” us. We can trust the Holy Spirit to give us the leaders we need for each season of the church’s journey towards the return of Christ.
The Spirit will give us the wisdom we need as we debate and determine various policies. The policy decisions are important, as they provide the spiritual, and legal, guidance we need as a church in this world.
Third, we will gather for fellowship. Many of you will enjoy meals and coffee breaks with friends you have not seen in several years. Others of you will make new friends that will enrich your lives by their wisdom, humor, and grace. Still, others will participate in the numerous special event meals and receptions that will occur. Throughout, we will discover that common joy that one finds globally among followers of Jesus. We will also discover that special joy of our own movement and its spiritual DNA.
At this General Conference, we will be reminded that we are “A Place of Hope and a People of Promise.” We will remember our core values, especially the core value emphasis of 2017, “We Prayerfully Value Christ’s Kingdom.” We will reflect on the vision and mission the Holy Spirit is calling us to.
In light of Christ’s Kingdom, we will remember that the IPHC is part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the world to expand the borders of Christ’s kingdom.
In the grand timeline of Christianity, our hundred plus years are but brief. When we consider that nearly 3 billion Christians live on this planet, our numbers are a small percentage. But we are nonetheless part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in human history concerning the kingdom of God. Therefore let us do our part with courage, truth, humility, love, compassion and great faith.