Opinion—Why the General Assembly is Important to Me
By Bob Christensen
Editor’s note—Views expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates (in this case, we offer an enthusiastic Amen! to the spirit of this article in support of General Assembly participation). We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We’ve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.
The way some people speak of church business meetings, you would think they should be rated somewhere between the task of changing a baby’s diaper and having to return to the gas station for the dreaded fill-up. That’s not how I see them, especially when it comes to the meetings of pastors and representatives at the General Assembly. I look forward to these meetings. To me, they are more like stepping onto a construction project to observe the progress and anticipate the future activities that the project will enable.
Like a construction project, I first want to know the plan. At the General Assembly of the Church of God, I feel like we are not only informed of the plan, but we are also given the opportunity to understand it, get clarification about it, and make comments and suggestions regarding ways to improve and implement the plan.
Then, at the General Assembly we are given a variety of reports that outline the progress being made on the plan. Each meeting provides highlights that give graphic detail about lives being brought to Jesus Christ and, in many other ways, benefiting the ministries we support together.
Of course, there are inevitably problems. That’s what makes the General Assembly meetings even more interesting. We pray, ask for God’s guidance, and listen to each other as we look for solutions and support for how to move forward. Sure, I’ve listened as a brother or sister came to the microphone to respond with passion to the issue on the table. And, at that moment, I felt like we were being real with each other, and hearing each other, regarding something that mattered at the heart level.
The joy of attending the GA really comes from the privilege of participation in the process of guiding the church as we pursue ministry together. Many good organizations plead for our dollars to support their causes. But, the General Assembly of the Church of God gives us the opportunity to be personally involved in the decisions that affect where dollars and personnel are deployed. And, as we sit together, I usually get to interact with someone I have not met before to learn about their life and ministry in another part of North America. I gained a new friend. In addition, we are often introduced to someone from “outside” who brings their perspective on our activities as a movement, yet reminds us that we are one in Christ regardless of our label.
I value the GA because it helps me keep the potential of the church in view. Those who speak to us share stories that inspire and direct our focus toward the future and the ever-new opportunities that the Lord lays before us as we rededicate ourselves to our calling to serve.
As my mother-in-law used to say, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” and now in my own vernacular, I say, “If airline tickets don’t reach the moon,” I plan to attend the next GA meeting in Tampa, Florida. Gathering for the General Assembly meeting always inspires me to get out and do more for the kingdom of God with my church family.
Bob Christensen is a retired pastor living in the state of Washington. He still loves to attend Church of God gatherings with his wife Barbara. He guest-speaks in area churches when requested. For him and his wife, life is still about ministering to people. Married for fifty-five years, they are celebrating the life of their first great granddaughter.
Feature (top) photo: General Assembly 2021 in Denver, Colorado.