INCH BY INCH…DAY BY DAY – Jim Lyon, General Director, Church of God Ministries
Jim Lyon, General Director, Church of God Ministries –
I am devoted to a Movement born with a vision of uniting the people of Jesus in holiness and truth. Furthermore, I am devoted to a Movement that believes it has a dramatic calling to advance the kingdom of Jesus, not just reforming denominational Christianity, but reclaiming all that hell has stolen. Inch by inch, day by day, soul by soul, we are engaged in a contest, light vying with the darkness, as the material body of Christ, animated by His Spirit, in this pivotal epoch between His first and second comings.
It is, of course, one thing to sing and preach about such themes; it is quite another to actually live them. Our ambition and our words have not always been matched by our experience. Still, God’s hand is on us. I would not be seated in this chair at Church of God Ministries if I did not believe so.
Some of the most extraordinary vision of the Movement’s early years is, in fact, springing to new life, right in front of us. For instance, 75,000 believers in Pakistan—men, women, and children, cleansed by the blood and clothed by the Holy Spirit, are knocking on our door. They call home one of the most challenging fields of the modern world. They long to be embraced and made relationally one with the Movement. Think of the implications: they are drawn to the ideas of unity and holiness we have long proclaimed; they are inspired by reports of a people for whom Jesus is the subject. They are a fulfillment of prophecy made long ago.
Similarly, here in the United States and Canada, we have congregations knocking on our door. Four separate congregations—and their pastors—on the eastern seaboard are asking today to be recognized as part of the Movement. Other unrelated congregations in the Midwest also want to know how to join the Movement. Some of these churches are independent, others are fleeing what they have concluded is a corrupted denominational system. In each case, the draw has been the same here at home as it is abroad: Jesus, unity, holiness.
There is so much to celebrate. In Berlin, The Pink Door opened in 2016 (thanks in no small part to the ChoG Trafficklight initiative here in the United States and Canada); this ministry provides a way out for women sexually trafficked in the heart of Europe. The church on this side of the Atlantic is partnering with the church in Germany to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees that have flooded the country. One local Church of God congregation in northern Germany has baptized already almost two hundred new Syrian believers. Some dynamic congregations in the United States are partnering with some of our struggling works to build multi-site Church of God networks in the States, infusing new life and energy into fellowships once thought perishing. Thousands of students are looking forward to what may prove to be the largest International Youth Convention ever, slated for next year in Indianapolis. Young adults are responding to a call to ministry and re-engaging their ties to the Movement, stepping up to lead. Innovative Christo-centric new degree and teaching programs are sweeping all of our universities and colleges, coast-to-coast. Lives are being redeemed, souls are being saved, the world is being changed. Inch by inch. Day by day. Soul by soul.
And yet, there is much remaining to do. The world is spinning all around us. How do we tackle the challenges ahead? How do we vouchsafe the material sustainability and future of the Movement at international, national, regional, and local levels? How do we accelerate the kingdom’s advance worldwide, with partnerships and new fronts opened globally? How do we live and breathe Jesus, making Him the subject of our every dream, ambition, and to-do list? How can we Be Bold, for Heaven’s sake?
Join the Movement. Join us in Wichita, June 20–23, 2017. In our family of churches, bound together by Spirit and relationship, our common devotion to a Movement of holiness and unity, with Jesus at the center—but without books of discipline and structural doctrine—it is imperative that we gather together. The hundreds of thousands who worship in the Movement’s congregations in the United States and Canada each weekend cannot, of course, meet at once in a single location. But our shepherds can. Lay delegates from each church can. All can have eyes and voices engaged in Wichita.
The Convention and the General Assembly (which is integrated with it) are the forums and platforms of the Movemental engine. God’s calling on us as a people cannot be realized unless we commit to face time. The 2017 Convention will be a celebration of so much progress made and new life born—and it will be a gauntlet thrown down for a new generation, perhaps a century, of the Movement’s future course. Don’t stay away and stand by the curb. Be a part.
We cannot be everywhere, we cannot attend every meeting, in the long calendar of the year. There are many important get-togethers in the Church of God every year. But, as the Convention and General Assembly have moved to every-other-year (meeting now only in odd-numbered years), make this the year you choose Wichita. If you must choose between another meet-up and Wichita, choose Wichita. If you cannot afford your regular meeting groove in Pennsylvania or Kentucky or Oregon or Florida and Wichita, choose Wichita. The Movement needs you to be present.
Make sure your pastor gets to Wichita. Maybe you cannot attend, but invest in your pastor’s participation. Don’t wait until April to figure it out. Get your church on board. Today. This week. Before January ends.
The lineup on the Convention platform in Wichita is filled with daring promise. You can be there or you can hear about it. The General Assembly will be chock full of substantive and consequential action. And, maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet some believers from Pakistan who have joined the Movement. Be there to welcome and encourage them.
You can register online at www.ChoGConvention.org. You can also keep up with the program highlights posted on the site, as announcements are made. Much is already posted—and there are some really cool surprises still in store.
May the Lord bless, protect, and provide for our every step in the year ahead. Made the world around us, whatever else is said, know that we are a Jesus people, immersed in His Spirit. May we always be the people who “reach our hands to every blood-washed one.” And may we be bold. Reclaiming. Redeeming. Reforming. May the Wichita Convention and General Assembly change the world. Literally.
Happy New Year from all of us at the base camp in Anderson and on the field abroad. As always, inscribe Ephesians 2:10 on your heart.