Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill has released the next topic in his “Let’s Talk About It” series, in which he addresses the upcoming 2020 General Assembly. To access past topics, visit letstalkaboutitwithtimhill.com.
The Beginning of A Journey
In less than a year, Church of God ministers and laity will gather for the General Assembly. Just one year ago, the last General Assembly ended with a resounding acknowledgement that God had met with us for an amazing week of revival, renewal, and affirmed direction. I have written in several of my “Let’s Talk About It” articles that the 2018 General Assembly was in large part about the 2020 General Assembly. I still believe that.
Several motions passed in 2018 that moved us further in our task towards a Great Commission FINISH. With the acceptance and approval of numerous task forces, study commissions, and a call to conduct global forums, I personally believe that we left Orlando in 2018, having laid a firm foundation for the 2020 General Assembly agenda.
So now, here we are, exactly at the midpoint between two General Assemblies. You may ask, “Where do you as General Overseer believe we are and how are you feeling about where we may be headed?”
Depending upon my frame of reference, my answer might vary.
If I went only by the recent Camp Meetings and conventions where large crowds gathered with great anticipation and a desire to be renewed in spirit, I would tell you that things could not be better. Our membership and friends cherish the fellowship and worship opportunities found in these kinds of gatherings.
If I went only by the Global Ministry Forums conducted over the past several months, I would tell you, that among some, there is a “cautious optimism” regarding our future as a movement. While some concerns have been expressed in these sessions, most believe that our movement seems to have outgrown systemic business as usual. However, they recognize that we aren’t afraid to face the tough issues, hopefully ask the right questions, and then delve into even the most challenging and difficult of solutions.
If I went only by a sampling of posts on social media, I would have to tell you that some in our movement believe our efforts are almost hopeless. They also believe our conversations and efforts are nothing more than an endless merry-go-round of nonessential exercises in futility.
Assessing the Direction Forward
So which barometer do I go by to strike an equitable balance? What compass do I use to find “true north?”
Well, the truth is I consider all of them and then quickly judge my summary by the Word of God to determine what I really believe will be the “end-of-the-day” conclusion.
Regardless of how optimistic or pessimistic one may be, there are biblical principles that spell out how the Church of God will fair in the days to come. That is, assuming we choose to abide by the following biblical principles:
1. Rely on God – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
2. Stay on Message – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19)
3. Love One Another – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
4. Pursue Organizational Effectiveness – “…put in order what was left unfinished…” (Titus 1:5)
While my list isn’t an exhaustive one, I do believe these four principles are important in maintaining a good equilibrium in a society that is grossly off balance. These same principles must also guide our church as we move toward and into the next General Assembly.
I personally believe the issues we deal with at the 2020 General Assembly may well be an opportunity to test our focus as a movement. Please understand, I’m not trying to over-dramatize or overstate reality just to stir up interest in the General Assembly with a year yet to go. However, I truly believe our focus as a movement could be tested.
In my opinion, we had a great revival at the 2018 General Assembly in Orlando. God helped us, built our faith, and built our confidence so we could embrace our challenges. God is certainly willing to do so again, and most likely, He will. While hopefully we will enjoy another spiritual feast, it’s my belief that we will not get through another General Assembly without some serious discussion, deliberation, and decisions on matters that continue to circulate and rise among us.
What will the next General Assembly record as it relates to our focus on the Great Commission and the progress we make to complete it? Can our denomination better allocate resources to pastors and laity for this purpose?
When we look back on the 2020 General Assembly, what will it reveal about our commitment to, and affirmation of, our sons and daughters? Can we put in place better opportunities for them to enter ministry? Can we increase the possibility of greater success and longevity in ministry through better training, affirmation, and overall preparation?
Did our actions reaffirm our Pentecostal heritage and the standards of Holiness that have been taught and lived by our forefathers and mothers in the faith, and left to us as such a great treasure? Can we take the experience and knowledge from these pioneers in the faith, pass them on to younger generations, while integrating new ideas as we work together across generational barriers to reach a lost world?
As we depart the 2020 General Assembly a year from now, we must be able to affirm that even in light of the politically polarized world that attempts to influence our ministry context, the Church of God still speaks for truth, esteems justice, and follows after biblical righteousness, regardless of the issue.
The Perennial Issues
There are six distinct categories that encapsulate every issue the church has faced and continues to face. At the past General Assembly, resolutions were adopted that gave church leadership the mandate to study these items in detail:
• Doctrinal Affirmation
• Ministerial Activation
• Generational Assimilation
• Visional Actualization
• Structural Acclimation
• Spiritual Acceleration
By the 2020 General Assembly, the Executive Council and numerous task forces will have addressed each of these important areas thoroughly and will bring motions and agenda items to the International General Council for consideration.
An Agenda of Purpose and Focus
Rest assured that I am not looking for a lengthy agenda that contains fillers and window dressing that attempts to make our constituents think that leadership has been busy. Neither am I anticipating motions that attempt to answer questions no one is asking. However, it is important to me that we be focused, lay out a meaningful agenda, and move the Church of God further into this millennium with purpose. The agenda doesn’t have to have a plethora of items that prolongs our business and frustrates those attending. Let’s narrow it down to a focused, Christ-centered, and Great Commission agenda that relevantly addresses a world in need, and in which the Church of God can be at its best.
Who knows? We may walk away saying that it was the greatest and most focused General Assembly we’ve ever had! Whatever is said, may our thoughts and imaginations be captured for the Lord’s purposes and may our hearts be reignited with a passion for rescuing the world.
I commit to you that I will be prayerfully prepared, knowledgeable about the issues, and ready to help the body navigate through what I believe will be a very productive and meaningful few days for the Church of God movement.
Bottom line – God has it! He has entrusted the treasures of His kingdom in us to make good and right decisions, take prayerful, strategic action, and make bold steps forward for the sake of His harvest.
So, after all things are considered, I come back to these four principles:
If we Rely on God,
If we Stay on Message,
If we Love One Another,
And If We Will Pursue Organizational Effectiveness, I have no doubt, all will be well, and the 2020 General Assembly will be healthy for the Church of God, and most importantly, pleasing to the Lord.
Let’s talk about it….
Timothy M. Hill