Welcome to ModCob Issue 7
by David Wine, 1997 Annual Conference Moderator
That's short for Moderator-Church of the Brethren. This newsletter has been designed for you, the church leader. Each month I will address questions that may have been posed to me during my travels as Moderator. You will be given my phone number, E-Mail, Fax & mailing address. Please feel free to contact me. I welcome your input and suggestions. I hope you will enjoy your future issues of the ModCob.
The Time is Now!
Forty years ago, the best college graduates chose ministry and medicine in about equal numbers. Today it is 20 to 1 in favor of medicine!
Anna Mow said many times, "the church is always one generation from extinction." In other words, we have to have a message and a ministry that is relevant and attractive. She did not mean attractive in the sense of the world?s values and its entertainment focus. Rather, attractive in the sense that others, especially our children and youth, see the radical nature of our faith and are attracted by its costliness!
A recent survey of Western European youth asked three questions. First, "Does it matter whether or not God exists?" 75% of those youth said no! Second, "Does it matter whether or not Jesus lived?" 80% said no. The third question, "What, then, gives life its greatest meaning and purpose?" 84% said sports and recreation!
People are attracted to greatness and greatness is best measured by one?s passion and commitment to a great ideal or cause. The survey went on to condemn those youth. In my view the condemnation was misplaced. We shouldn?t condemn those youth. Rather the condemnation points to us - the older generations- whose faith has been so lukewarm, so lacking in depth, that the youth are unable to discern the cause that moves the church.
That is why I believe so strongly in our Annual Conference theme this year, "Count Well the Cost." We must make our walk with Jesus Christ the primary focus of our lives.
What do our youth see in us? Recent statistics from American Demographics magazine indicate we watch an average of over twenty hours of television every week and spend an average of fifteen hours each week on sports and recreation. They also say that we who have membership in churches average less than two hours of worship and gathering time each week in those churches as the body of Christ! We give a paltry 2.5% of our income back to God yet easily spend thousands each year on exactly those things the youth said gave meaning and purpose to life. A recent issue of Brethren Life and Thought reported that only 17.6% of the Brethren read the Bible on a daily basis. I can?t help laying that aside of our proclamation of being a New Testament people!
What do our youth see in us? Too often they see passion and enthusiasm focused everywhere but upon Christ and the Church. When they see us in our church activities it is often in conflicts about issues or interpretations rather than repentance and discipleship. How can we expect our church to impact our world of impact our youth under such limited costly commitment? It is no accident our youth no longer choose ministry. We are not issuing the call because we have forgot the cost of the call!
What will make our faith legitimate again is vision and passion, purpose and focus. This is needed by us as individuals and corporately as congregations. We must exude commitment, joy, energy and excitement for our Savior. That love for Christ must begin to energize and move us in such ways that others can?t help but notice the radical difference God has made in our lives. Greatness and depth in our love for God is the greatest evangelism program every designed!
Ephesians 5:14b rings out to us: Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!
Other Events At Annual Conference
In our last issue of ModCob we reviewed the many business items that are coming to Long Beach. Doing our work together and discerning the future directions of our denomination are extremely important and is the key focus for delegates and church leaders.
However, Annual Conference is also a wonderful mix of many other activities. Our favorite is always the worship each evening. To hear thousands of Brethren sing together with our special harmony is awesome. Excellent preaching around the Annual Conference theme adds to the call to commitment and challenge we all need to grow in our faith. In addition to the worship there are several Bible Study options as well as musical events such as early evening concerts. Don?t forget all the optional meal events, most of which are open to any attendee with the purchase of a meal ticket. A few meal events are by invitation only. And don?t forget the insight sessions offered most days of conference. These are sponsored by one of the three boards reportable to Annual Conference and cover a wide range of subject areas. Then you must take time to stroll through the exhibit hall to see the displays and pick up information on many projects, ministries and programs.
If all that is not enough we have plans for a big Brethren family picnic for all conference goers on Friday evening and a special music concert Saturday night. And, the youth and children have their own conference activities!! Perhaps, more special than anything else, is the chance to make new friends and acquaintances and always to renew others.
We can't wait to see all of you in Long Beach!
1997 Annual Conference Moderator David Wine