Since I have been back here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, my wife and I keep talking about God's visitation in North Chili, New York, at Roberts Wesleyan College (RWC), where GC11 (General Conference 2011) was held last July of this year. She was not there, but she was able to participate through the live feed and video streaming at the GC11.org website. (You can visit this website and check out the "Live" page for an archive of the many different worship services. Google GC11 and follow the link.) I was in RWC and Sarah (my wife) was at home here in Taiwan monitoring the events online. We were so blessed with the challenges of our three Bishops and their call for a more engaged Free Methodist Church, not only in the USA but the world as well. One evening service that really connected with us was the Thursday evening sermon by Bob Roberts, Jr. Sarah and I watched this sermon again a few days back. It made both of us look forward to our 2013 Partnership Building visit to the USA next July 2013. Just like what Roberts shared, we want to challenge our local Free Methodist churches to be a "missionary church." Below, are some of my thoughts and reflections.
Roberts is mainly speaking to North American churches. He challenges the US churches to "pray like a missionary." This means a prayer that asks God to bless the whole city. A church that is located on a spot, just as a missionary is to a certain culture and locality. I am now reading Roberts' book Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World (2006). He shares here his experiences as a pastor of Northwood Church. He says: "Instead of being the biggest church in the area, we were going to church the area" (2006:40). He is calling the churches to be both locally and globally relevant. In his GC11 address,he points out seven "game changers," conditions that will encourage every Christian to make a difference in this world and to obey the Great Commission. (I will repeat these seven items. You can visit the website for yourself and listen to the sermon.) It is so refreshing to hear him preach and rally US believers to be more missional than ever. I will certainly use this Thursday sermon as a point of reference when I come to the US for our five-month Partnership Building next year visiting FM churches in Michigan and Illinois.
Here is a quote from Bob Roberts, Jr. when he ended his sermon: "The Great Commission is going to be fulfilled. If we are not a part of that, it will be because of sin: we just refused to work together." (July 14, 2011, New York).