Canadian Convergence 2016

Canadians Converge

“It’s not so hard to ‘confer,'” said Glen Breitkreuz, senior pastor at Christian Fellowship Assembly of Grande Prairie, Alberta. “It’s fairly easy to ‘confer,’ but it’s a lot harder to ‘converge.'”

Breitkreuz explained that is essentially the difference between a conference and a convergence. It’s the difference between conferring to share ideas and converging to form unity of purpose and establish a single-minded plan of action.

On a unseasonably warm day (over 30°C/87°F), pastors from across Canada converged on this northern city, about 460 km northwest of Edmonton. At their opening “envisioning” time, they gathered with a sense of urgency about the political climate of their country. And they recognized fresh opportunities to stand boldly for God.

With Canadian society trending away from biblical truth, they pledged their collective voice to uphold the truth of God’s Word.

Just as much, they pledged their hearts to express the grace of God’s love. The gathering begins Tuesday evening with an opening banquet and continues through Friday, May 6.

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Lead Elder Glen Forsberg encourages the ministers at the 2016 Canadian convention as Glen Breitkreuz looks on.

Matty Coppin, site pastor from The Father's House Christian Fellowship in Morinville, AB, summarizes his discussion group's views.

Matty Coppin, site pastor from The Father’s House Christian Fellowship in Morinville, AB, summarizes his discussion group’s views.

John Sprecher, lead elder from the U.S., talks over lunch with Mark Ost, long-term missionary in Paris, France.

John Sprecher, lead elder from the U.S., talks over lunch with Mark Ost, long-term missionary in Paris, France.

What Are the Polls Saying?

Here in the USA we are in the midst of one of the most unusual political election cycles in recent memory. In every news cycle we hear about the latest poll, margin of error, trends, and the pundits who are convinced that they can interpret the future for us. Every candidate’s most recent statement, whether it be outrageous or profound, is analyzed to determine whether it has helped or hurt the polls. The sad reality is that the perception of the polls becomes more important than substantive commentary and real stands on issues.

I like the description of leadership expressed by Rosalynn Carter years ago, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

How are we doing as Christian leaders? Are we more concerned with the “polls” of the opinions of our congregants, or are we leading people to the places that they need to go whether they like the process or even recognize it at the time?

Jesus spent His entire ministry on earth with one focus…the cross. He told His disciples on many occasions that He was going to the cross and even death, and then told the crowd that the only way to follow Him was to deny oneself and to take up your cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34). The evidence is clear that they did not understand it at first. Peter rebuked Jesus right after his great declaration of faith, saying that He should never die (Matthew 16:21-23) and even after the resurrection they were still looking for an earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6). However, Jesus was clear that The Cross was really the only way to life. “He who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25)

Perhaps no one was more articulate with the doctrine of the cross than the Apostle Paul. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). In his description of baptism we are told that we are buried and resurrected with Christ (Romans 6) and in practical living Paul declared that he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31).

If the cross and death to the old nature is a significant need for all true believers, then we have to ask ourselves, “How is our leadership?” Are we great leaders taking people where they need to go even if it is not the most popular message? Or are we listening to the polls of popularity and, in fact, not leading, but rather following people where they are wandering as sheep without a shepherd?

The pressing need of the day are real leaders who will help people see beyond the immediacy of life to the greater plans and purposes that God has created us for. Jesus is described in Hebrews 12 as enduring the cross for the joy that was set before Him, a focus not just on the death of the cross, but the glorious victory to follow. Let us proclaim the hopeful message of the cross so that we might experience life now and for all of eternity!

John Sprecher is the Lead Elder of the FCA USA.

 

All the King’s Men

1794544_10152532828065829_8138159133674221605_nIt is great followers that make great leaders. “To be great is to serve. To be chief is to be the slave of all,” the words of our Savior.

Anyone who wants authority must first be under authority. These are timeless principles of the Kingdom of God. For any would-be leader, you must first be a follower. To be the greatest leader, you must first be the greatest follower.

Before King David was king he was a shepherd. Lowly, forgotten, and watching someone else’s sheep.

Before he gave orders to his mighty generals he took orders from a crazy king.

Before he wrote the Psalms in the Tabernacle of the Lord he sang them before flocks of sheep.

David was the greatest king because he was the greatest follower. More than twenty times his King, King Saul tried to kill him. Yet in all things David behaved wisely. Mercifully he spared King Saul twice. David’s heart was smitten for even cutting the hem of Saul’s garment.

David was the type of soldier he wanted in his army. He exemplified courage, humility, submission, and a heart after God.

King David is remembered as one of the greatest kings of all time. From his lowly beginnings as a “ruddy” shepherd boy to his triumph over Goliath, David was truly legendary. But what if I said that his success was hardly due to him, that every monumental moment in his life was actually due to someone else? Someone else that David strategically placed in his life. The grandeur of all he accomplished was a team effort. More than how to succeed, David knew who could help him succeed. The Bible records in several passages those who were in his administration. More than 30 names are credited as “David’s Mighty Men.” David was a great leader because he had great followers. And he had great followers because he was once a great follower.

I know that there is a great emphasis on leadership, but I think we should put more thought into “followship.” Every church I have been to needs more faithful hands and feet to put the vision into action. Let us all strive to be those that serve others and help them with their God-given goals. Let us be good followers!

 

Drew Brattrud is Lead Pastor of Riverside Christian Assembly in Riverside, California. 

Horse Talk

HorseBy Tom Flaherty

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He waits to show you compassion.”  Isaiah 30:15;18

Last week my wife and I went with our missionaries to a horse farm where horses are used to teach spiritual truth.  Our director asked all of us to be quiet while we observed her with a horse who was unfamiliar with her.  She asked us to imagine her as God, and the horse as us and encouraged us to listen to what the Holy Spirit might teach through the experience.

She was in the middle of a circular pen set up in the arena and had a head set microphone on that allowed us to hear everything she was saying without her having to raise her voice.  The horse was then let in with her and she began speaking softly to him, but he was having none of it.  He began running around in circles ignoring her, but she kept speaking and never took her eyes off of him.

Once in a while the horse would kick or change direction or even speed up to let her know he resented being locked up in this small space with her.  She just kept speaking tenderly and waited for him to tire out.  Finally it happened.

All at once the horse stopped, went right to her, and bowed his head, letting her touch him.  She told us this was an act of surrender.  Now when she spoke and walked around the horse followed her wherever she went.

Here are some of the reflections the team gave:

1.    The circular pen was something artificial that she created for the purpose of establishing relationship with the horse. Our circumstances are like the pen.  God allows us to feel penned in only for the reason that we might come to Him, surrender, and establish relationship.

2.     Even though the horse ignored the director, she never took her eyes off of him and never stopped speaking to him.  God’s eye is on us even when we resent our circumstances and kick and snort to communicate our unhappiness to Him.  What does He do?  As the text above reads, “He waits to show you compassion.”

3.    No matter how fast the horse went in circles it wasn’t going anywhere.  We think our strength is in activity but there can be a lot of activity with no progress.  Just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we’re actually going anywhere.

4.    Horses were created to be ridden in the beautiful outdoors, not stuck in a pen.  God wants to “ride us” or have an intimate relationship where we become one with Him.  The sooner we embrace this purpose, the sooner the adventure of where He will take us will begin.

5.    It was amazing how quickly everything changed when the horse decided to surrender.  It stopped on a dime, went to the middle, and decided to submit instead of fight.  All the prodigal had to do was come home.  All we need to do is repent and rest in Him.  He’s waiting for us to get tired of doing it on our own, so we will return and He can have compassion on us.

Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.

The Rudder

RudderBy Tom Flaherty

In the spring of 2009 the woman leading our weekly prayer meeting requested prayer because the burden of leading was heavy on her.  She was in charge because she was a known intercessor and I knew I wasn’t.  Early one morning while praying for her, I received an impression of a large ship with a small rudder.  A sentence came into my mind: “Lead the church from the prayer meeting.”  With this came an immediate understanding of three things:

1. I had been trying to lead the church from Sunday mornings to that point.

2. Because of this I was leading the church politically – through words – instead of spiritually.

3. The large ship represented the church; the small, unseen rudder, the prayer meeting.  God was asking me to take my place as the leader of the prayer meeting.

From that time until this I have tried to lead our prayer meetings.  We started telling all who came to our membership classes that we consider the prayer meeting the most important gathering of the week.

Our prayer times aren’t very impressive.  We worship; we often open the mic up for people to pray or give words that God has put on their hearts; we usually have a prayer focus, and at some time during the night (6:30-8) whoever is speaking the coming Sunday gets prayed for.  Yet it’s the prayer meeting that gives me confidence God is in all the other ministries at church including Sunday mornings.

Jesus said: “My house shall be a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46). Until we’ve prayed, we should do nothing.  Once we’ve prayed, we should only go forward as God directs.  This is true of a church, but it’s also true for individuals.  We are the house God lives in today. (2 Cor. 6:16)

So what’s the rudder in your life?  What is the underlying motivation for all you do?  Is it money?  Fun?  Selfish ambition?  Family?  Ministry?

What’s the rudder for your ministry?

The same Jesus who turned the tables over in the temple knocks on our door today asking for our permission to enter.  He is still filled with zeal to make us a house of prayer but has chosen to wait for us to make prayer a priority in our lives.

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus is seen knocking on the door of His own church.  I think He’s still knocking today.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

 

Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.