Denver, Colo., November 1 — More than 300 people gathered in Denver, Colo., this week for “Denver 2012: Make Love Your Aim.” The event opened Monday night with a prayer gathering focused around the “Cape Town Confession” – part of the Cape Town Commitment , which resulted from The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.
“The Cape Town Commitment begins with ten special statements calling us to the life of love,” said Paul Cedar, chairman of the Mission America Coalition, which hosted the event. Cedar describes the Lausanne document, “as a call for the Church to believe in evangelism, to discuss evangelism, and to do evangelism. To give high priority to sharing Jesus Christ throughout the nation.”
Several pre-meetings to the conference included the City Impact Roundtable and a gathering for next generation leaders developing a Campus Transformation Network.
City and Community Ministries Grappled with Issues of Race
More than 70 attended the City Impact Roundtable (CIR) on Monday, discussing cityreaching models and hearing best-practice stories from representatives from Branson, Mo.; Denver; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Appleton, Wis. The CIR continued Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in conjunction with the larger Consultation meetings. Participants shared successes and challenges in their own city contexts, as well as an animated discussion of racial issues and how to reach and know the diaspora peoples in U.S. cities.
“It was pretty eye opening,” said Jerry Fultz, a participant from Aurora, Ill. “And a little bit uncomfortable.” But good, he assured.
Reuben Gonzales, from Denver, said the CIR was transformational for him. “I had such a narrow view of the significance of culture,” he said. “For me, it was a reframing – it took my blinders off and helped me reframe my approach to ministry.”
MAC’s facilitator for City Community ministries, Jarvis Ward, described the CIR as a learning community to share best practices and best thought in connecting, researching and empowering men and women who want to partner with others to reach their cities with the gospel.
“We use the roundtable because that is an indication that everyone is equal,” he said.
Addressing the issue of reaching the diaspora peoples, Ward said cityreaching needs to spend time in researching who is in a city in order to reach them, and also to work with them.
“There are Christians who have come to our nation through persecution and they are solid believers. We need to work with them,” Ward emphasized.
Other issues the CIR addressed included how to create more diversity in age, ethnicity, and gender among “cityreachers” – those reaching their cities for Christ. “Our impact is much stronger when we have engaged younger, browner, and female disciples,” he said.
More than 20 other affinity consultations met in the afternoons throughout the Leadership Consultation. One of the affinities was orality – the need for a spoken, story-centered gospel, not just the written word, for more than 70% (5.7 billion) of the world’s population who prefer that learning method, whether literate or not.
Other affinity groups included Women in Ministry Leadership, Marketplace / Faith and Work, Children’s Ministry, Mobilizing the Local Church for Evangelism, and Mobilizing Churches for Global Missions. Groups of church planters, denominational leaders, those in the arts and entertainment industry, and Internet evangelists also met in affinity groups.
Plenary Sessions Addressed Aspects of a Pray-Care-Share Lifestyle
The affinity consultations were flanked by morning and evening plenary sessions each day. Plenary speakers encouraged and challenged participants around “Making Love Your Aim” and advancing a prayer-care-share lifestyle.
Nick Hall, the Pulse Movement, addressed embodying the urgency of the gospel.
“We will not experience the harvest until we embody the urgency…the movement of the Spirit of God for our times,” he said. “Throughout history, when I read the accounts of revival,…God has to wake people up to say ‘I am the main thing’…. We need a movement of urgency.”
Richard Coleman, The Mission Society, gave a powerful presentation about diversity and the keys to bringing integration between black and white churches.
“Don’t fall into the guilt trap of saying my church is too white or my church is too black,” he urged. “The reality is people have preferences.”
“We are the body of Christ…I should learn to work with my brother and sister up the street….Go to my event if you expect me to be at yours,” he counseled.
Steve Moore, MissioNexus, warned participants about the dangers of misaligned love. “Passionate, zealous, committed, willing-to-sacrifice Christ followers are especially vulnerable to misaligned love,” he advised. “The danger each of us face…is to allow the love we have for our ministry to compete with the love that we have for God.”
“Loving God results in intimacy; loving your ministry results in activity,” he explained. “Fruitfulness comes with abiding; busyness comes with striving.” He said the symptoms of misaligned love are concern about status and concern about survival.
“I don’t have to be important or busy,” Moore concluded, “I don’t even need to survive. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.”
Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Memphis, wrapped up the Leadership Consultation Wednesday night with a challenge drawn from Jesus in Matthew 25 about ministering “to the least of these.” Loritts told of William Wilberforce’s efforts to abolish slavery in England, and how, as a result, Loritts’ great-great-grandfather, a slave in the southern U.S., received emancipation.
“I’m pastoring a multi-ethnic church in the most segregated city in the country, Memphis, because a 25-year-old white man [considered the least of these],” Loritts said, referring to Wilberforce.
He spoke of other great men of faith, including John Wesley. “Wesley wrestled with a question most American Christians never entertain,” Loritts said. “It was the question of ‘enough.’”
“Wrestle with the question of enough,” he admonished. “Leave margins in your budget to spontaneously and generously give to the poor….Do you know what joy is? It’s liberally, generously, spontaneously giving the goods that God has given us.”
Leaders Preview New Scriptural Television Miniseries
On Tuesday evening, television producer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, addressed the Consultation. They showed a preview of a 10-hour miniseries drama, “The Bible,” to be aired on the History Channel beginning in March. Burnett and Downey produced the miniseries and said that they worked to keep the story authentic and true to scripture and to include the whole gospel.
“I have tried as an actress to always make the work I do pleasing to God and to bring God’s love to the world,” said Downey, who played the role of the angel Monica on the television series “Touched by an Angel.”
Burnett will launch a viral campaign to promote the television series “The Bible” in January, and the Mission America Coalition has agreed to partner in promoting the show.
The vision of the Mission America Coalition / U.S. Lausanne Committee, is to see “the whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole nation and the world.” Membership is free and a monthly Evangelism Connection e-newsletter of evangelism news, research and trends is available online at www.missionamerica.org .
For interviews with MAC Chairman Paul Cedar or more information, contact Noel Foutz, 760-861-0909.