Observations and Affirmations from the Global Ministry Forums
A Window Seat Perspective
As I write, I am on a flight to the Pacific Northwest for one of the last scheduled Global Ministry Forums. Flying into Portland, Oregon, it is amazing to see the majestic mountains piercing through the clouds. I am appreciative of my particular vantage point on the plane because it reminds me of the importance of a good view. Similarly, I have had a great view at each of the Global Ministry Forums.
I am appreciative of my particular vantage point on the plane because it reminds me of the importance of a good view.
Earlier this year, we began with a list of twenty-five global locations and the hope of being as accessible as possible to our Church of God constituency. Within a few weeks, we will complete the remaining five forums and bring an end to this process required by the General Assembly. We have already had more than 5,700 people attend the forums and more than 6,100 have completed the accompanying survey. The results of the survey will be shared after the first of the year.
Emphasis of the Forums
If you have read any of my articles on the forums or if you have attended a forum, you know that I have emphasized the following:
The forums are not mini-General Assemblies, meaning that no action has been or could be taken on any issue. These are listening sessions only.
The forums are not a “Cleveland Show and Tell” show. There has been no departmental promotion and certainly no agenda promoted by the Executive Committee.
The forums are not a perfect format. I have left each forum, suggesting changes for the next forum, hoping for a better experience for those attending.
The forums have not been a waste of time. Any time spent listening to people who love their church is always a good investment and worthwhile.
Lastly, the forums were mandated by the General Assembly. The Executive Committee was directed to conduct these very important sessions and we have been glad to do so.
Although many issues have been raised at the forums at my invitation, the General Assembly directed that we look at four specific topics:
Qualifications of Ministers
Women in Leadership Positions, and
The meaning and usage of the term “Bishop”
Observations and Affirmations
Everyone that has spoken at the forums has addressed these topics with conviction, passion and respect for others that may have different opinions. I fully expect the remaining forums will be no different and that we will see the same spirit carryover into the 2020 General Assembly as well.
Everyone that has spoken at the forums has addressed these topics with conviction, passion and respect for others that may have different opinions.
While the series of Global Ministry Forums may have not raised issues that were not already being discussed, I think there have been some very important affirmations. As I have sat through the forums, the following facts have been affirmed to me over and over again:
There is Interest
People have a genuine interest in the direction of our church. Regardless of the topic, there is an overwhelming longing for Great Commission involvement as a movement.
There is Concern
People are expressing great concern that we as a church remain scripturally accountable and responsible in all that we do as a denomination.
There is Passion
People are coming to the forums prepared, and they are speaking with firm and deep conviction about the subjects of interest to them and our church.
There is Appreciation
Over and over, many have expressed strong appreciation for the opportunity to speak and to be heard. The opportunity to have an “open mic” for three hours or more and discuss the issues facing our church has created an incredible opportunity for both ministers and laypersons.
There is Loyalty
Regardless of the location, I have repeatedly heard, “Bishop, I love God and I love the Church of God.” Now, mind you, this isn’t blind loyalty. However, it is loyalty that says that the person will engage in the process, participate in making the right decisions, and work to hold leaders answerable to the Word of God in directing their church.
There is Commitment
People are committed to scripture and the doctrinal fundamentals of being a Pentecostal church. They are committed to honoring our heritage, while also embracing a meaningful future.
There is Hope
Regardless of the age of the person, hope has been expressed in the comments from every person that has spoken. The Jeremiah Generation has especially inspired me with their participation and hope for the future. I truly believe that hope exists for a church that will not adapt to a secular culture, but a church that will “lead” culture with Christ-honoring ministry and anointing.
There is Dependency
Repeatedly it has been said, “We must have the Lord’s help.” In and of ourselves, we know our ability to answer the questions is limited. Having been quoted often in the forums, James 1:5 provides an answer: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
There is Desire
The desire to concentrate more on the Great Commission has been expressed over and over. People seem to be ready to move on with the most important work of the church - winning the lost and reaching a global harvest.
There is Respect
While the speeches reveal that there is certainly not uniformity on the answers to the questions and issues, there is unity among us as a people. The forums have proven to be a platform where opinions, thoughts, and convictions could be freely expressed without any awkwardness or critical reprisal. Sure, there have been speeches that represented both sides of the issues and yes, discussions have often been strong and opinions firm. However, at the end of each forum, I have watched individuals with different views meet and embrace in the aisles and even leave together to continue their fellowship and their discussions.
The greatest affirmation I have had is that God is helping us and we’re going to do His will because His is the only agenda that matters, and the only agenda that must always be enacted.
Dr. Timothy M. Hill