I hope you have your calendars marked for Annual Conference which is July 18-20 at Valley View Church in Clackamas. The theme this year is OnMission: Next Steps. My prayer and desire is that all of us will come away from our time together with some next steps which God wants us to take in our lives and in the local church.
Some people ask why we should belong to a group of churches. Is a denomination necessary? From my perspective, whenever two or more churches work together, that’s the beginnings of a denomination and that’s a good thing. Here are three reasons that come to my mind as to why we are part of a Conference and Denomination.
We are better together. I cringe when I think of a church going it alone without outside accountability and relationships. I’ve been part of the Pacific Conference for 36 years. I’ve felt the freedom to be a unique church in my local neighborhood serving our particular demographic, while experiencing the support and strength of a larger community of the Conference. When I have faced leadership challenges in the local church, I was strengthened by the knowledge that the Superintendent had my back; the combined knowledge and insight of the Conference leadership was available to me. The Conference is home, it’s where we belong, not a prison. It is a place we can minister together.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4 (NIV)
We are Evangelicals. The word evangelical come from the Greek word meaning “good news.” Historically, sharing Christ has been a priority. Frankly, we don’t always have that as a priority. We need to renew our passion for those apart from God, whether it’s around the world or across the street. It’s easy for a church alone to unintentionally shift their focus.
We also hold to our Wesleyan-Arminian heritage and doctrine. While we don’t expect everyone to cross every “t” and dot every “i”, being together helps clarify and solidify our theological distinctive and convictions.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14 (NTL)
When I pastored, I often said that the best days are ahead of us. I really felt that way and I still do! God has bigger plans for us than we do. As we look to the future, our Denomination gives us the opportunity to be part of something beyond ourselves. Jen Hatmaker said it this way and I agree, “This is the only generation of the church we will ever be a part of, and I am incredibly thankful to labor alongside such faithful, brave, beautiful believers.”
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
BEFORE YOU GO…
By the way, I think we are asking the wrong question when we ask, “What are we getting out of the Conference?” A better question would be, “What can we do to have a healthier Conference?” What other reasons would you add to why we need to belong and how can we have a healthier Conference?
If you haven’t yet signed up for Annual Conference, download the registration form here.