Transform 2016: Renew your passion

Transform 2016

At Transform 2016, 342 Converge leaders explored how to keep passion alive for the church, evangelism and God. On January 11, Music leader Bill Hackworth and his band of 10 kicked off the night with powerful worship. Dr. Michael Henderson, Converge vice president of National Ministries, gave the first message, inspiring leaders to see the blind spots in their lives.

Referring to the church of Laodicea in Rev. 3:14, Henderson illustrated how churches can be unwilling to face the realities of life. Jesus knew this church had a false perception, using wealth as a substitute for righteousness. Henderson compared this example with the church today, calling it rich but morally bankrupt. We must all see the church from God’s perspective.

“God says, ‘I’d rather you be hot or cold, because if you’re lukewarm, you’re self-righteous. If you’re lukewarm, I’ll spit you out,’” Henderson quoted. He continued, “When we understand how wretched we arehow poor, how unrighteouswe will not move away from God. Outside of Jesus I am poor, wretched, blind, naked. My relationship with him is most important.”

New tracks and special workshops

Tuesday began three days of networking tracks for more than 25 groups. Four workshops also were held: Guest speakers Bobby Manning and Matt Amargo and Converge Church Planting executive director Lee Stephenson co-led the Next Gen Pastor workshop. Topics included self-leadership, ministry rhythms and coaching.

Amargo touched on biblical leadership. “What is it anyway?” he said. “We need to be biblical leaders. A person who helps people to be all God wants them to be.”

Church planter Vaughn Brown noted millennials need a specific type of leadership. “Making ourselves available as executive leadership to those who are just trying to discover themselves and their faith is very important,” he said. “Millennials are trying to carve out a place to feel a sense of belonging in the church.”

Stephenson gave four ways to connect with millennials: give them a voice, allow them room to fail, create learning experiences and include them in your life.

Bethel University’s dean of Student Ministries, Laurel Bunker, hosted a session for women, focusing on passion for the Word and prayer. Over 40 women attended. Bunker touched on tough topics for women who feel lonely and overwhelmed in ministry.

“Christ must be my passion. When he’s not, the success of my accomplishments is about me,” she said. “We need to also place our hope in the Lord. We can’t place our hope in human beings.”

’All evangelical denominations are growing’

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, hosted a special two-day session on cultural issues for senior/lead pastors. Anderson touched on the history of evangelicals. “A complex group, we live in challenging times,” he said. As he illustrated through statistics from the 1930s, society has always presented challenges.

“The list of challenges does not necessarily predict what will happen,” he said. “How we understand the times in which we live and how we communicate how to live Christianly in our current situation will.”

All 40 denominations that make up the NAE currently are growing. Anderson said the future of the church depends on immigration. One of the fastest-growing denominations is made up of 40 percent immigrants, 20 percent of them undocumented clergy. Anderson also discussed Planned Parenthood, race relations and homosexuality.

“Don’t trust the cultural compassfix yourself on the North Star because that is the truth,” he said. “We’re in a culture that’s bending the compass. We believe the North Star is Jesus Christ.”

’Woe, win, save, run’

World evangelist Luis Palau used colorful storytelling to reiterate the importance of passion for evangelism. Using the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 9:16-25, Palau’s message focused on the words “woe,” “win,” “save” and “run.”

“Woe is me if I don’t proclaim the gospel,” he cited. “The Apostle Paul was a mature man but never lost his fire and passion. He never quit.”

Palau gave three suggestions for pastors who have lost their fire: 1) Know what the Bible teaches about the present state and future destiny of those who are lost, 2) believe it and 3) pray until the fire burns in your soul.

“If the pastor is passionate about the lost, the congregation will soon catch on,” he said. “This is the way you’re supposed to be.”

The only answer

From the parable of the four soils (Mark 4:3-9), Converge president Scott Ridout concluded Transform with a message about how we are passionate for God. In our world that is not as it should be, the gospel is the only answer. It is hard to have passion for God at times, he said. Our hearts quickly become callous, cowardly and crowded.

“God says, ‘Seek first my righteousness and I’ll take care of all of that,’” Ridout continued. “Everyone has something that’s number one in his or her life. And whatever it is, it will control you. God wants to be number one.”

Ridout concluded by challenging attendees to be clear of cool-heartedness, fear and sin. Communion followed.

    Point - September 2018

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