Learning from the Global Church

June 6, 2012, 0 Comments

I spent last weekend with 250 church leaders.

They were from 69 countries.

The meeting was translated live into 6 languages.

It was the Global Summit of The Foursquare Church. They gathered after their denomination’s annual meeting to discuss  how to better engage the mission of God around the world. Over the last few years, I have had the privilege to interact with many of the leaders in this church family and it always encourages me.

My friend and coauthor (and boss) Ed Stetzer was facilitating the meeting. I was there to help in the discussions with the executives and to aid in analyzing the information gathered during the meetings. The Foursquare Church has approximately 70,000 worldwide… so you can imagine there was a wide variety of ideas from those who traveled from places such as Switzerland, Honduras, Namibia, and Sri Lanka.

Ultimately, the discussion revolved around the idea of a “global eldering community” for their church family. It is a theme that many denominations and church movements must eventually discuss – how to move from one group giving oversight to everyone to everyone offering leadership for the movement. The discussions were passionate and encouraging. And, if nothing else, Spirit-filled.

Over the last few years, I have been in the room when these sorts of conversations have taken place regarding a number of denominations and movements. Watching godly leaders wrestle of issues of authority – both giving it away and receiving it – has often increased my faith in what God is doing throughout the church today. Denominational politics can be a dastardly subject matter. But, I am finding that more often than not, very few really want to fight over what group controls the headquarters. And those who do are not often deeply engaged in the mission of God.

In particular, the leaders of the church in the “global south” are so busy leading church planting movements that they probably have little time to worry about such matters. Currently, Brazil is now the number 2 missionary sending country in the world. My encouragement to we who reside in the cultural West (North America and Western Europe) should do all we can to learn from these brothers and sisters.

As an American, I am trying to keep some historical perspective. We have been central to church leadership in the world but only for a short time. And, God may well choose to move the leadership to another part of the Earth… Brazil, Southeast Asia, or Africa. For now, relative to most in the world, we have vast financial resources, administrative abilities, and many other logistical advantages. However, it is needful to learn from those who minister and make disciples in parts of the world where they have little in common our ways of databases, ProPresenter-driven worship, and professionally-styled ministries. It’s time to learn from the global Christians who are winning cities, experiencing revival, and witness church planting movements.

It is not a call to abandon what we do. Hopefully, we are properly contextualizing ministry and the communication of the gospel to our culture. But I see it as a both/and scenario. Be faithful in our calling and learn how others are faithful to theirs. Then, maybe, just maybe, we will experience some of the beautiful adventure of Gospel engagement that others seems to find normative in their daily lives.

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