Wednesday, June 6, 2012
What A Time, What A Time, What A Time.
“What a time, what a time, what a time!” That was just one of the comments made regarding this year’s Revival 2K12 conference. Trust me there were many more. What in the blazes was R2K12 you ask? The revival conference series is a gathering of God’s people who long to see the living God revive and renew His people’s passion for the witness of the gospel and the extension of Christ’s kingdom into the lives of individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. The conference grew out of the long time fellowship of several PCA pastors who serve multi-ethnic churches located in the northeastern part of the country. These pastors meet 4 to 6 times a year to catch up, discuss various aspects of ministry and encourage each other in the journey.
The conference has three aims; firstly to see God revive His people so that we cultivate and crave a desire to worship Him more fervently, walk before Him more diligently and witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ more actively as an end in and of itself. For us, the living God isn’t the key to the blessings we want, He is the blessing we want. Secondly, we hope that God will revive His people to the end that we will eagerly use our gifts, skills, abilities and time to engage our communities with good works and thus build bridges to declare the gospel. Finally, our prayer is that God will use His people to propel a multi-ethnic church planting movement that will significantly increase the number of mission driven, multi-ethnic churches in our suburban areas.
Why a ‘multi-ethnic’ church planting movement? Shouldn’t we just seek to start churches without bowing to the political correctness that so infects our society? The movement must be self-consciously multi-ethnic because that’s the kind of church our Lord Jesus specifically commanded us to have and the very kind that the American evangelical church has so consciously rebelled against for much of our history. The gospel of Matthew records our Lord directly telling His closest followers to make disciples (i.e. active followers who orient their lives around our Lord’s worship, His word and His witness) from people of all ethnicities, (see Matt. 28:19 where the word translated ‘nations’ is ‘ethnos’ from where we get the English term ‘ethnic’.) Thus we seek to start self-consciously multi-ethnic churches not to pander to some politically correct notion of diversity, but to finally demonstrate the biblically correct virtue of unity. For us the issue is the gospel and its implications. And in a society in which there is still a significant amount of ethnic tension, strife, separation and hostility it is the church of the living God who can demonstrate the unifying power of the gospel through mission driven churches that prize the virtues of humility, love, hospitality and sacrifice.
So this year we returned to Baltimore for our second installment which was held at Faith Christian Fellowship. And as that one sister said, from the call to worship on a stormy Friday night to the very first note of the very first song ‘what a time, what a time, what a time’. God truly met us throughout the entire weekend. He met us as we gathered for God-honoring, Christ-centered and Spirit-filled worship through the joyful singing of the FCF worship team. He met us in the moving testimony of Flo Brindle a dear young woman who is such a blessed example of His grace, power, steadfast love and faithfulness. He met us in the powerful, timely and clear preaching of Rev. Russ Whitfield, Rev. Irwyn Ince and Rev. Wy Plummer who exhorted, challenged and called us to run this race toward unity. He met us in each and every workshop where dedicated servants instructed us on issues with which the souls within our communities grapple each and every day. Issues that if we’re wise and diligent we can speak to for the sake of the witness of the gospel. God met us in a slamming holy hip-hop concert where the Brindle brothers and a few of their good friends dropped some sound, lyrical theology.
Our gracious God met us in greetings from and the presence of four of our faithful fathers in the faith who were there for the weekend. Rev. Randy Nabors and Craig Garriott followed God’s lead and began self-consciously multi-cultural church over thirty years ago long before it was even a topic of conversation with most evangelicals. Dr. Carl Ellis and Rev. Wy Plummer are truly pioneers in the PCA having settled into a denomination that for the most part seemed to have little interest in reaching beyond its core constituency. They remained faithful to God’s call on their life and we’re more than grateful to stand upon their shoulders as the Lord leads us into this next phase of ministry. God also met is in the powerful, humble and outstanding service of the FCF staff led by Pastor Stan Long. They were on time, on the ball, whether it was directing folks to the right workshops, helping to serve refreshments, getting our lunch together, recording the proceedings or just being their with a warm smile and hug.
Finally, our Lord Jesus met us with the real and refreshing fellowship of God’s people. It is s special privilege and blessing to meet, hang with and get to know folks who have a burden and share a vision for the unified witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was just scintillating to overhear and participate in conversations about what our Lord is doing and how He’ll use His people to do it. And we’re especially grateful that our good brother Wiley Rittenhouse expertly captured so much of it on film (or should we say flashdriveJ You can check out some of the photos here http://wileyrittenhouse.zenfolio.com/r2k12/e1353cc3c#hd79b30d.
So yes, what a time, what a time, what a time we had.
To Him Who Loves Us…