Dear minister of Christ,
I hope you enjoyed the theme of Renewal at our 2016 US Regional Conferences. We heard inspiring accounts of how the Holy Spirit is renewing us—opening minds and hearts to become more missional in thought and action. It’s thrilling to see him transforming us into congregations willing to go “outside the walls” to gather others to the community of the church.
In his Theology of Renewal presentation at the conferences, Dr. Gary Deddo reminded us that our Triune God is a God of renewal—he has been from the beginning when, “out of nothing” (ex nihilo), he created all things. His work of renewal, which is “making everything new” (Revelation 21:5), is leading to a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) that will be revealed at Jesus’ second advent.
I believe the Holy Spirit is showing us that we should continue to make Renewal our guiding theme for the year ahead. This understanding was confirmed when I met recently with our US Regional Pastors to develop strategic plans for 2017. When I asked how they felt about continuing the theme of Renewal, their overwhelming response was “Yes!” Knowing that renewal is a multi-year process, we see the need to continue to keep our focus on the work of renewal the Father, Son and Holy Spirit continue to do in our midst.
This understanding also has been confirmed by our Educational Strategy Task Force (ESTF)—a group of GCI administrators and educators (chaired by Gary Deddo) tasked by Joseph Tkach to evaluate our various programs related to educating pastors, ministry leaders and general members. The ESTF recently completed its evaluation, concluding, in part, that we need to continue our focus on spiritual renewal as the foundation of our educational philosophy and programs (for my report on the ESTF’s recent work, click here).
In preparation for the GCI Denominational Conference (previously called the International Conference) in Orlando in August 2017, we’ll be publishing articles here in Equipper and also in GCI Weekly Update to address various aspects of spiritual renewal. In a pre-conference seminar for pastors on August 1, Gary Deddo will address how the renewal of the Holy Spirit energizes our theology, and how theology then shapes our understanding of the church (ecclesiology) and its ministry practices (missiology). Gary has begun a series of articles in GCI Weekly Update on this topic (click here for part 1); please give his essay careful study as you minister these next several months and prepare for the conference.
I envision 2017 being a year of clarification, culminating in an epic celebration at our Denominational Conference. I’m excited about meeting all of you there, along with the many others who the Spirit will call to swim with us in the stream of God’s renewing grace.
I wish you all a blessed Advent-Christmas season and a “Happy 2017!”
Director, GCI-USA Church Administration and Development