The Nazarene General Assembly 2017: Diversity, Unity, and Good Coffee
The global Christian Church is a very diverse and eclectic tapestry of humanity who, together, are striving to grow closer to God and sharing His great love and amazing life with others.
And within that tapestry are countless denominations (think: franchises) of this global Christian Church which make up different branches of our family tree.
And I am part of the denominational family known as the International Church of the Nazarene, a denomination founded on a passion for a life of holiness and ministry to the marginalized. And as a guy actively involved in urban ministry in the inner-city of Indianapolis - I am completely in love with a church family that is centered on Jesus, living out His transformational love in the most broken corners of the world, and calling people to a life of Christlikeness.
I love my Nazarene church family!
And every 4 years, we gather together for an international convention. During a two-week period, over 20,000 church leaders (lay and clergy) and church members from across the globe descend on one city and celebrate the work of God in and through the Church in the previous four years while also leaning in to further Kingdom-work in the years ahead.
And, starting this week, that international convention kicks off in my hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
If you are unfamiliar with the Church of the Nazarene, you can learn more about our part of the family tree of Christianity here.
And if you are Nazarene and are joining the General Assembly this year, let me share with you my thoughts, advice, and prayers for the next two weeks!
As we jump into an amazing time of learning, celebration, and decision-making, here is what I believe is pivotal for you to know about this General Assembly in Indianapolis:
Coffee. You're going to need some. And while the hotel lobby's coffee might get you a caffeine-kick in the morning, don't you want to enjoy the best java Indy has to offer? You should put these three coffee shops on your calendar:
- Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company. Great coffee in the up-and-coming Fountain Square neighborhood just southeast of downtown Indy. And it's a not-for-profit that supports various local neighborhood organizations.
- Bee Coffee Roasters. Small batch coffee roaster. It's top notch and it's right across the street from the convention center (where General Assembly is held!).
- Quills Coffee. My favorite cup of joe in town. It has an awesome atmosphere and an amazing selection of coffee. I'd recommend being daring and try The Alchemist (photo below).
And while good food and great times with our extended church family is a pivotal element to the DNA of our General Assemblies, they are also a time weighted with great responsibility. Because during our time together, our elected representatives (delegates) will discuss, pray over, and make decisions about the future of our denomination regarding our theology (what we believe), our polity (our actions), and our leadership (we will elect 2 new global leaders for our team of 6 General Superintendents).
My driving desire to begin to write this post on the eve of our International General Assembly? It's to get to this point:
We need to be in prayer.
The next two weeks will significantly impact our denomination's trajectory for the next several decades and will set us on a path towards the church family that our children will one day lead.
And whether you are a voting delegate this year or not (I am not by the way), we need to be covering the next 12 days in deep, passionate, wrestling-with-God-like-Jacob type prayers.
Will you join me in praying for our General Assembly?
Here's what I will be praying for specifically over the next two weeks:
- Diversity: That as we pick new leadership and decide our denomination's trajectory for the next several years, that we will listen intently to and give leadership to diverse voices. That our church will reflect in our leadership and decisions the diverse, global church family that we are. That we will lean more deeply into who we truly are - and who we are called to be.
- Unity: At the same time, I pray that our conversations and decisions will rally us together in unity around our Christocentric mission and vision while we also embrace our diversity of heritage and worldviews.
- Two New General Superintendents: Our elected delegates will elect two new global leaders to our Board of General Superintendents (a team of 6 international church leaders) this General Assembly. We have many great church leaders who would excel in such positions of leadership and service, but we need the right two people elected. And by right I mean: God-ordained, Spirit-filled, Christ-like leaders who are the right people for such a time as this. Who is elected will impact our denomination for (potentially) decades - if not generations.
- Christocentric Love: I am using "Christocentric" as short-hand for being totally and completely centered on and directed by Jesus. And may our conversations, healthy debates, decisions, and elections be completely derived from a place of Christocentric love - both individually and corporately.
- Revival: Maybe I'm crazy, but I believe a revival can break out during a convention full of business meetings, workshops, and worship services. I heard a church leader say recently that: "Revival begins when people embrace truth and transparency. Join me in praying for that type of revival over the next two weeks."
- Safety: There will be over 20,000 Nazarenes a part of the next two weeks. Cover their travels and time here in prayer for their safety as they journey to Indianapolis and then back home after our General Assembly.
The next 12 days will be amazing. It's one of the largest family reunions in the world. And it is also vitally important to the future of our denomination.
Will you join me in praying every day for the next 12 days - at 6AM every morning - for our General Assembly?
As we drench this General Assembly in prayer, I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will reveal the movement of God in ways that will surprise and delight us. God will move. Let's open ourselves to that movement and be overwhelmed by how God will show up over the next 12 days.
So let's pray.
(And let's drink some good coffee together too.)