Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Creating a New Future" - Spawning a Movement of Churches

Bill Nicoson released an update on the progress of the work of the Vision Architects. They have been actively engaged in charting the course for the post-Lombard movement.

Creating a New FutureDownload File Here
by Bill Nicoson

ABE continues toward a transition that will spawn a new movement of churches dedicated to living out the Great Commission and the Great Commandments of scripture. On January 17-18 and February 8-9, the Vision Architects team will meet for two full days (each month) of intensive work focused on developing a structure and means to carry out our new vision. I am excited about the prospects of this new beginning, but I want to share my concerns that are ever present in this genesis of the movement.

First, we are in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6). If we are not in a constant state of prayer, continually asking God for His protection, discernment and wisdom, we are lost. I hope that you are praying for me, the Vision Architects and for Bill Hoyt, who has been a great instrument of help during this time. Prayer must be the foundation of the new movement. Will you consider joining me in prayer on a weekly basis (at least one day a week, during which you can focus on our new movement in your prayer time), asking God to direct us and give us a clear picture of His heart for us?

Second, the end result must benefit the local church. Our focus and structure must serve the church. Our organization has to be a network that, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:21-22, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you are too being built together ….” We must rely on the Holy Spirit to help us major on the majors and minor on the minors.

Third, I am concerned that we have been dependent on the denomination to the point that we suffer from spiritual atrophy. Since we met in Lombard, there has been much grieving over the denomination and the separation from it. I am aware of the trauma and setback many of us have felt. I know that “closure” will come more quickly for some than others. However, if we do not focus on the future and think about our vision and what we can aspire to be, we will be forever lost in the conundrum of trying to fix things or still “have it our way” in our own minds. In other words, don’t let the past impair your spiritual eyesight.

Fourth, this movement must be missional. As Dr. Charles Revis challenged us in Lombard, “We must believe this Gospel has the power to change the world.” One of the reasons I enlisted Bill Hoyt to help us in this transition is that he has, in my opinion, an incredible world view. One of the questions I have been asking is, “What can we do collectively that one church cannot do by itself?” That question hasn’t quite been answered satisfactorily; however, I think the answer is becoming clearer to me. The ONLY THING that can have a thousand times more impact in our world than a single solitary church is a group of churches with a mission-centered focus.

Finally, I want to reiterate what Dr. Revis shared with us concerning birthing a new movement. He challenged us to operate more like a network than a denomination. Networks are appearing daily through the internet as well as other means. Every local church has access to some form of network or another. Dr. Revis also stated that we should continue to adhere to the Baptist form of associationalism. The Philadelphia Baptist Association that was formed in 1707 influenced Baptists for the next hundred years. They knew they could accomplish more for the kingdom together than they could individually. The association provided recruitment, ordination, education, printed materials, home missions (sharing funds to financially starved churches and relief of widows), models for preaching, fellowship for those who felt isolated because of their beliefs of biblical authority, etc.

I continue to be deeply grateful to Dr. Revis for his challenge. It was exactly what we needed and I contend that it will be an historic piece in the new movement’s history. (If you missed reading or would like to reread Dr. Revis’ message, visit our web site at www.abeonline.org and select “Resources,” then “Articles.”) I am so hopeful for the future, but it can happen only if we are totally dependent on God and his leading. We must not let the past guide us; it should serve only inform us as we create a future of dynamic churches presenting a dynamic gospel to a broken and fallen world.

[His Barking Dog offers commentary, both original and featuring other voices, without any representation to be speaking for any entity or person in the PSW]

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