Dear Fellow Workers,
Hard to believe, but 2018 is here! For GCI, it will be a year of transitions, and so that is the theme we’ve chosen for GCI Equipper in 2018. Early in the year, we’ll be moving the GCI Home Office from Glendora, CA, to Charlotte, NC. Then, throughout 2018, we’ll see several personnel transitions. I’ll become GCI President at the end of 2018, when Joseph Tkach retires. Several other denominational leaders, Home Office staff and pastors will also retire this year—we’ll share the details as the year progresses. Thanks for your prayers!
These transitions come with excitement, some apprehension, and several questions: Will GCI remain the same? Will we hold to the same truths? Will our new leaders be as effective as the ones who are retiring? Though I don’t have complete answers to these important questions, I’m not worried—I know that Jesus is the head of GCI and of all his body, the church. For that reality, I give God thanks.
As we journey together through the transitions of 2018, I pray we will do so reassured that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Though Jesus transcends our earthly limitations, we rejoice knowing that he never stops caring for us. Through the Spirit, he joins us in our struggles, including our transitions, to guide us through them.
Will GCI change? I certainly believe so, since Jesus has always been about transformation, and I think you’ll agree that God is continually transforming us. In our journey forward with Jesus, will we hold to the same truths? The answer is that God has put us on a remarkable path of renewal, and I’m confident he will continue to lead us on that same path. As we journey forward, we will continue to strive to gain an even better understanding of the truth—Jesus, himself, is that truth.
Will GCI remain the same denomination? Our collective prayer and commitment is that we will continue to strive to be the denomination that Jesus wants us to be. We will seek to continue going where Jesus leads us by his Spirit and through his word.
In the opening chapter of Colossians, Paul reminds us about who Jesus is: He is the creator of all things. He is “the firstborn from among the dead.” He is the one who is “before all things and in him all things hold together.” Jesus is, and always will be, the head of the church (including GCI). Though being under Jesus’ headship means many things, let me address three here: 1) mutual submission, 2) corporate testimony and 3) shared ministry.
1. Mutual submission
Mutual submission occurs when men and women submit their individual lives to Jesus as Lord; and then these individuals join as a community of believers, collectively submitting to Jesus as Master over the life of the group—the body, the church. Knowing Jesus is head over all things to the church is encouraging and comforting news to those in leadership positions, and maybe even more reassuring to the members.
2. Corporate testimony
The church (ekklesia) is the “assembly” of God’s people. The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to not forsake assembling together. Why does the church gather? From our perspective, we do so to be built up and encouraged (submitting one to another) and to worship (giving glory to and submitting to God). From God’s grander perspective, the church meets to make his Son Jesus known, real and accessible. This is our corporate testimony. We share the same message—we worship as we witness, and we witness as we worship. Our redeemed lives are living testimonies to the reality of Jesus and we offer ourselves daily as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable response of worship.
3. Shared ministry
The Holy Spirit leads us to find ways and means to participate in shared ministry as we worship and witness together. As he leads us to shared ministry, fruit results. This is because Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is still at work in his people. Acts tells the story of Christ’s work in and through his servants as they were energized and directed by the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, his work did not end; rather, he chose to express himself through a body of believers who would continue his life and ministry on earth. Grace Communion International is one part of that body of believers. Yes, transitions can be exciting and can lead to apprehension, but this we know: Jesus is the head of his body, the church, and even more personally for us, he is the head of GCI! For that we give thanks, and in that, we are reassured.
Looking forward to our journey together, with Jesus, in 2018,
Greg Williams, GCI Vice President