“This proposal pleased the whole group.” – Acts 6:5
The Jerusalem church had a major challenge by Acts 6! The leaders gathered the church and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” In this spirit, in 2015 our Service Team Chairmen initiated a self-review of our present-day ministries to prayerfully see how we can better organize to meet the needs of our members while freeing our evangelists to focus on prayer and ministry of the word. The transparent history is available here: ICOC 3.0 FAQs.
The Holy Spirit bonds our fellowship of 689 churches in 148 nations by ligaments of the body to connect and unify us. In addition to the numerous relationships, missions, and communications, God has used regional and international conferences and leadership meetings to keep us together and focused on his mission and maturing his church. Our three key global leadership gatherings are the annual Spring Leadership Meetings and fall Delegates Meetings as well as the biennial International Leadership Conferences.
From March 13-15 our couples who lead our 34 families of churches and the evangelists, elders, women, teachers, and communications service teams and all the service team chairmen met in Orlando, Florida to pray and discuss what God has shown us since the 2017 Delegates Meeting in Chicago last fall. At that incredible Chicago meeting, God brought a new level of renewed trust, respect, cooperation, and love among us. After considerable deliberation and open discussion, the Delegates’ votes gave direction for which options the Task Forces should develop for further consideration in 2018 towards a final decision at the Delegates’ Meeting in Panama in October. Further input was solicited from anyone who wanted to share with the Task Forces.
As promised, the Task Forces presented their updated proposals prior to the Spring Meeting for the participants to pray and ponder. Then in Orlando, each group presented their varied proposals and hosted a lively Q & A. Each session was followed with purposeful prayer groups of people from various areas of the world. The variety of ideas and depth of thought was only surpassed by the tangible loving, faithful, and open spirit of the entire week. Doug Arthur opened the week with “This Proposal Pleased the Whole Group.” Andy Fleming spoke on “Biblical Principles of Disputable Matters” and Frank Kim closed the week with a stirring, memorable charge to “Over All These Virtues, Put on Love.”
The Orlando Church of Christ was the perfect host to these global travelers. Marshall Mead, lead evangelist and director of the 2020 World Discipleship Summit, led a tour of the spectacular facilities where we will prayerfully gather with 20,000.
Another highlight of the week was a presentation of the ICOC US Diversity Team. The entire group attended this meeting including our international leaders. They provided a thought-provoking, appreciative, and challenging look at our need to meet diverse needs in our US churches among African Americans and white brothers and sisters. More of this will be reported on Disciples Today in our Oneness column which addresses how Jesus is the answer to racial, culture, and national issues. As Michael Burns reminded us, Jesus’ dream and commission call us to “make disciples of all nations.”
ICOC 3.0 Next Steps:
- April 10: Proposals sent to Delegates, Regional Chairs, and Service Teams for distribution to church leaders and input.
- June 1: Proposals input due. Task Forces integrate relevant feedback.
- July 1: Final Proposals published including input from Delegates and church leaders.
- July 1-Oct. 1: Period of prayer, fasting, education, and deliberation.
- Oct. 2-3: Final Proposals vote at Delegates Meeting in Panama
The apostles in Acts 6 are to be commended for their willingness to be self-aware in how needs were going unmet in the church. They proposed organizing to meet those needs and to help the other leaders focus on prayer and ministry of the word. Our current proposals will not solve all of our problems or grow all of our churches. But they have the potential to significantly meet more needs and to help our church leaders focus more on prayer and ministry of the word, knowing these needs are being met. Having any proposal please the whole group is quite the challenge. Surely God will continue to bless us with unity and direction as we are totally committed to loving him first and to loving each other. Please continue to pray for wisdom in these plans and to love as Jesus loved us.
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