My Heart and Thoughts Concerning GA22 - By Dr. Tim Hill
In less than a month, Church of God ministers and laity will gather for the General Assembly. For most it may be hard to recall, but our last General Assembly in 2018 ended with a resounding acknowledgement that God had met with us for an amazing week of revival, renewal, and affirmed direction. Even after four years, I still remember and 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 the call at that time to conduct global forums, I personally believe that we left Orlando in 2018, having laid a firm foundation for what should have been the 2020 General Assembly agenda. Then a global pandemic attempted to change everything. Personally, I quickly shifted into “crises navigation” mode while attempting to live out the FINISH Commitment vision at the same time. Since we last met as an Assembly, numerous and alarming cultural issues have hit our nation like a tsunami. Health challenges that no one could adequately calculate reminded us of our own human vulnerability. Add to all of this, the dark economic storm clouds that are now looming everywhere. And now….It’s time for a Church of God General Assembly. Here we are, a few days away from meeting together in San Antonio.
Assessing the Direction Forward
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 on a particular day, 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 prior to the Pandemic and other conferences I’ve attended, 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 engaging in 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.
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:
Rely on God - “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
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)
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)
Pursue Organizational Effectiveness Guided by Scriptural Principles of Truth- “...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 gone mad. 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 78th General Assembly may well be an opportunity to test our commitment and 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 only a few days left to go. However, I truly believe our integrity and focus as a movement could be tested.
In my opinion, we had a great revival at the 77th General Assembly in 2018. 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. We must speak and we must act according to scripture.
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?
When we look back on the 78th 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 be prepared and then 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 78th General Assembly a few days 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.
Are we ready to confront cultural rebellion? Are we willing to affirm our faith and continue to commit that our beloved church will be faithful to the Word of God? Doctrinal recklessness has plagued too many denominations. Most importantly, Can we again embrace our personal responsibility to reach the souls men and women with the gospel of Jesus?
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 on a meaningful agenda, and move the Church of God further into this millennium with purpose. In my opinion, the upcoming agenda does not have a plethora of items that prolongs our business and frustrates those attending. The Executive Council has narrowed it down to a focused, Christ-centered, Scriptural affirming and Great Commission agenda that relevantly addresses a world in need, and one 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,
If We Will Pursue Organizational Effectiveness Guided by Scriptural Principles of Truth, then I have no doubt, all will be well, and the 78th General Assembly will be healthy for the Church of God, and most importantly, pleasing to the Lord.
I love and appreciate each of you and thank you for your prayers.
Dr. Timothy M. Hill