EFCA One, the biennial national conference, was
very meaningful to me this year. Not that other national conferences haven’t been, but there was something extra special about this year’s. The presidential transition, of course, was historic, and the training sessions that I attended were excellent. But the plenary-session speakers were particularly challenging to heart and ministry.
Bill Hamel’s final address, coupled with Kevin Kompelien’s vision as the new president, are a good way to recalibrate your alignment with EFCA mission and vision. I’m grateful for Bill and his legacy and I’m pleased with Kevin’s election. Among other things, he will bring to the table a cross-cultural sensitivity that will help us with the changing face of American culture.
Philip Ryken gave a thoughtful address on the gospel seen in the story of the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5). It is, in my judgment, a helpful example of preaching the Old Testament in light of the New, and a refreshing reminder of how good the good news is.
Crawford Loritts and Ryan Kwon shared a common emphasis in their addresses: self-denial and full surrender to the absolute claims of Jesus Christ on our lives. Crawford preached from the “hard sayings” in Luke 9 and 14. He earnestly and pointedly reminded us of the core issue of being “all in” with Jesus. Ryan, a younger leader in the EFCA, reminded us that the time we live in is our time. We get no other. We must be the church in our time. He preached from Matthew 16, where Christ assures us that he will build his church on the rock. Ryan addressed several features of Christ’s church:
- The church is organized for mission, not control.
- The church is a priesthood of all believers, not clergy.
- The church is a sending agent, not a dispenser of religious goods and services.
- The church is an unstoppable movement, not an enterprise.
At the end of his message—especially challenging to me—he called us to respond to three huge realities of our time:
- There are 4.5 billion unchurched people in the world, half of whom have no access to the gospel.
- The USA has the fourth largest unchurched population in the world.
- Only one percent of churches in the USA are in the categories of multiplying and movement-making. The vast majority are subtracting, plateaued, or adding.
At the heart of changing these realities is Jesus’ followers, including we who are the EFCA at this time in history, denying themselves and taking up their cross in following Jesus. In light of these realities we must make strong directional decisions today, said Ryan. It’s our time.
I commend these messages to you. May they bear fruit in my life and yours and throughout the EFCA.