Faith, Hope, and Love in Action
GCI President Update | January 2023
Happy 2023! We are beginning an exciting new year with new hopes and new possibilities.
In 2022, we promoted the theme of “Compelled by Love.” We understand that it is the pure love of Jesus that allows us to see others being included in his sacrifice and love. We teach a universal atonement in that when Jesus died, all humanity was included in his spilled blood. Therefore, the reconciliation of mankind to the triune God was made available to “all” in Jesus. God is not counting our sins against any of us. When he looks at us, he sees Jesus standing in our place for us. This is the good news we identify as the gospel. And this is our mission: to live and to share this gospel.
As we look ahead to what 2023 holds—in GCI this means moving into Year Two of our 3-Year Plan—we ask how does this mission play out for our six global Regions of GCI? We share the same vision of “Healthy Church” that is reflected in the same structure of “Team Based–Pastor Led” with the ministry Avenues of Faith, Hope, and Love. So where do we need to focus on? Leadership is part of our focus.
Fleshing out the clear role of the Pastor to build his/her team – with called and competent leaders who can champion the ministry Avenues of Faith, Hope, and Love – is a must to further our movement toward Healthy Church.
As each Superintendent leads their Ministry Directors to train, educate, and coach on these important steps forward, we realize that each region is working at its individual pace as the Spirit is guiding. And that’s okay. The critical factor is that we are all progressively moving in the same direction – and that direction is always keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and growing in our participation in his ministry of faith, hope, and love. Eugene Peterson was right when he said, “It’s a long journey in the same direction.” And that direction is always toward Jesus.
Year One in our shared global plan was focused on learning the ministry concepts and developing a common language. Having visited almost all GCI regions in 2022 and participating in pastoral conferences, I was pleased to see how the concepts are being grasped and talked about. We are out of the starting block.
In Year Two, our GCI theme for 2023 is “Faith, Hope, and Love in Action.” This is moving the concepts into action. It is our faith goal that as we better understand the ministry of Jesus conceptually, that we follow through with better participation.
Allow me to explain what I mean by better participation. It’s one thing to know that it is the commission of the church to make disciples, and it is altogether another experience to participate with Father, Son, and Spirit in actively making disciples. This is where the Love Avenue comes in for us to become intentional about engaging and building meaningful relationships with those who don’t yet know Christ.
Then as new people are coming along, it is imperative that our Hope Avenue is vibrant. Every Sunday gathering needs to be a time of inspiration in worship of Jesus, experiencing the power and presence of the Spirit, as believers come together corporately.
Following up on where the Love and Hope Avenues have helped us reach new believers, the action of the Faith Avenue will then help them learn how to walk with Jesus and find their place in the life of the church. The Apostle Paul describes a progression of moving from the milk of the word to the meat of the word. This is a relationship with the Savior that is maturing in understanding and reliance. GCI’s role is to help others become committed followers of Jesus.
The hope that I cling to is that GCI will make disciples who will make even more disciples.
The effectiveness of how the church is operating in the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues has a major impact on how the mission of Making Disciples is fulfilled. I believe you can see just how critical it is for GCI to move from knowledge to practice. Faith, Hope, and Love in Action mean that we are focused on Jesus and relying on him to channel his faith, hope, and love into us, so we more effectively operate as his ambassadors to a broken, hurting world.
To speak candidly, I fully realize that not all our churches are the same. Some are smaller and aging and in their twilight years. By the grace of God, some are experiencing renewal, and yet others are celebrating their history and closing their doors. Please know that this is the cycle of the church and that your denomination still loves and cares about you deeply. There is no judgment or hard feelings.
For the smaller churches, you will be hard-pressed to build out the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues to the scale that you would like. Please don’t feel bad about this. Continue to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and think about ministry through the lens of Faith, Hope, and Love, and participate as you are able.
I have advised our Superintendents and their team of leaders to identify the congregations that have the greater capacity of size, adequate funding, opportunity in their neighborhood, and teachable leaders who are willing to try new methods, and we begin there. You have heard the expression that “life begets life” – so, this is our long-range thinking. If we can help the healthier churches among us to become even more vibrant, then these renewed congregations have the potential to become mother churches that give birth to daughter churches – bringing new followers to Christ. This will be an incredible marker to indicate that our shared vision of Healthy Church is being fulfilled.
Let me pray for us.
Father in Heaven, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit, we are at the beginning of a New Year on our calendar. We thank you for being faithful in our past and especially for our shared journey in GCI. You have brought us such a long way and have never left us or forsaken us.
We stand here now as we roll our calendars forward to 2023. We stand in the faith, hope, and love of Jesus and we collectively ask you that we can better join you in your purpose of drawing all men and women to yourself. That your Kingdom can grow from a small seed to a huge, expansive bush where all birds can be gathered and find refuge and peace.
Thank you, Spirit, for unifying our fellowship with a shared plan that has a common vision, common structure, common strategies, and a plan full of faith goals that can only be fulfilled as you build the house.
Father, we humbly ask that the Faith, Hope, and Love of Jesus would become even more alive and tangible among our churches and members. May the light of Jesus shine brightly through our people, and Lord add new members as it pleases you.
In a year’s time, may we look back on 2023 and see the amazing ways that you answered this prayer.
In the mighty name of Jesus!
I’m Greg Williams, updating you about the life of the Church.