GCI Update

Thankful that we are evangelicals

This “From the President” letter is by GCI Vice President Greg Williams.

Dear GCI Brothers and Sisters,

Greg and Susan Williams

Unfortunately, many people (including some Christians) associate the term evangelical more with political and sociological positions than with the sincerely-held faith of a large group of Christians spread throughout the world. This misunderstanding is due in large part to the way the media uses the term evangelical, though it also results from organizations and individuals who, calling themselves evangelicals, espouse very conservative (even extreme) political and social ideologies.

When we refer to GCI as being evangelical, we are using that term, not politically or sociologically, but theologically. To say that we are evangelicals is to say that we identify with Jesus Christ, who is the heart and core of the gospel (the evangel). The same can be said for the 40+ organizations (including GCI) that make up the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In the U.S., GCI has held NAE membership for many years. We also hold membership in similar organizations outside the U.S. While NAE members may not agree on all issues, they all are theologically evangelical—sharing a commitment to orthodox Christian doctrine and a passion to make Christ known to a lost and hurting world.

Through attending NAE meetings, I’ve come to know this organization as one that holds true to Christian orthodoxy, desires greater understanding and engagement with the culture, and demonstrates a humble spirit of self-reflection. I have been impressed with the quality of the speakers at NAE gatherings. They help NAE members grow in understanding how the gospel relates to the challenging and often divisive issues we face in today’s world. These issues include homosexuality, gender dysphoria, a worldwide refugee crisis, and Muslims in America. At one NAE gathering, we toured the U.S. capital and heard from members of Congress who are Democrats and Republicans. The goal of NAE President Leith Anderson is not to espouse sociological positions or political agendas, but to help the leaders of NAE member organizations gain a more fully Christ-centered, gospel-shaped perspective on what is going on in the world.

The approach NAE takes to current (often controversial and divisive) issues within our culture is something I hope to see reflected more and more in the approach taken throughout the ranks in GCI. It’s a challenge for us to think with the mind of Christ about these issues instead of thinking out of a perspective limited by our life experiences (our context). Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Seminary, puts it this way:

Mark Labberton

It is striking that our context is the most pervasive influence that shapes us, even if we profess Jesus as Lord. A pure Christian identity isn’t available, because we all live immersed in context.

Dr. Labberton also notes that we all need “a new social location”—a new mindset that results from the union and communion we have with Christ, by the Spirit. In GCI, we aspire to have that mindset—what we refer to as a Christ-centered worldview. We then seek to work across denominational lines with others who share this worldview. We come together through the NAE and other venues, not to justify ourselves, but to hear a fresh word from the Lord, who speaks to us all through Scripture and brings us all to see whatever blindness we may still suffer from.

GCI and all NAE members aspire to be evangels who, with the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment, faithfully follow Jesus and his gospel. As evangelicals, we seek to witness to the truth that is in Jesus, who alone has the power to save. We strive to rise above personal hurts, prejudices and societal trends to confidently follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We seek to grow in Jesus’ faith, humility and compassion, including his commitment to justice and righteousness for the dignity of all people.

One of the benefits I derive personally from GCI’s NAE membership is the joy of rubbing shoulders with leaders from other denominations that share with GCI a commitment to Jesus and his gospel. I find them to be both encouraging and wise. It’s extremely helpful to me to talk with them about what they have experienced, and to compare notes about all manner of shared concerns and experiences.

I pray that we in GCI will grow in our evangelical commitments and practices. I pray we’ll be even more passionate in expressing the love and life of Jesus through our actions, and in sharing the truth of his gospel in our conversations.

Thankful that we are evangelicals,
Greg Williams

PS: For help in approaching, with the mind of Christ, the challenging (and often divisive) ethical issues that arise in our world, be sure to read the Worldview Conversion series currently running in GCI Equipper—click here for the first article.

Home Office relaunch

Here, from GCI President Joseph Tkach and GCI Vice President Greg Williams, is a Speaking of Life video that introduces GCI’s new Home Office in Charlotte, NC, and the staff members who work there serving GCI pastors and congregations around the world.

On YouTube at https://youtu.be/pKbE580m44s.

Back-to-school outreach

Here is a video with pictures of a back-to-school outreach recently held by the GCI congregation in Cicero, IL (in the Chicago area). The lead pastor (shown in the last picture) is Israel Hernandez.

On YouTube at https://youtu.be/3hgFWCmdQyk.

The Mark Experience

On July 20-21, over 15 people from various GCI congregations came together at Christ Fellowship Church (one of GCI’s Cincinnati, OH, area congregations) for a workshop led by Cathy Deddo.

Cathy Deddo addressing the group

Through individual study time, small group interaction and large group discussions, the group studied seven related passages in the Gospel of Mark. The goal was to help each other listen more attentively to the passages so that each person could grow in their understanding of Scripture and their relationship with the Lord, and also grow in their ability to lead interactive small group Bible studies.

Cathy commented on the approach she took in the workshop:

The Bible is unlike any other written word. The Holy Spirit, who inspired these writings for our benefit, can speak to us again today in and through these words. As pastors and small group leaders, we want Bible study to feed people’s actual, real relationship with God and to draw us together in Christ-centered fellowship. In expectation of what the Spirit will do in using these words again, we learned how to tune into the message of the biblical author (Mark in this case). We especially focused on discerning the particular questions Mark raised and the particular answers he gave in his Gospel.

small group discussion

Here are comments from some of the participants:

It was awesome to really dig in. It was like digging for gold. Absolutely wonderful, in-depth study. (Laura Bauer)

I loved doing this study directly from the Scriptures instead of just relying on what someone else is telling us. We should always start at his Word, then move on to reading commentaries and using Bible dictionaries and lexicons. Reading Scripture first really gives us focus and faith in what God is telling us. It helps his Word reach into our hearts when we reach into it and get our hands dirty instead of just standing aside and watching someone else doing the hard work. Thank you, Cathy, for taking us by the hand and showing us how to garden. (Valerie Beverly)

This study in Mark gave me techniques and tools to use as a small group leader in my church. In addition to gaining much insight into the book of Mark, walking through the passages with a focus on ways to engage our groups to more fully connect with God and his message was a treasure. It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to point each other to Christ and see ourselves in light of Scripture. (Carol Bolander)

I enjoyed reading and considering the various Scripture passages and the in-depth analysis of each one. The lectures from Cathy and the comments from workshop participants made the written material come alive. More than ever before, I was seeing Jesus as a real person, living among real people, living a real life, in a real historical setting. The background material and discussions of others helped in seeing the flow of the book, and why Mark wrote in the style that he did. This insight is helpful in comparing Mark to the other Gospels that address the same events. (Bill Roll)

Promoting your church on a tiny budget

If you’re wanting to take steps to make your congregation known, but have little money to do so, click here to read a Church Leaders article that provides helpful tips.

Free Bible software

Looking for high quality, free Bible software? The basic version of Logos’ popular version 7 Bible software is offered at no cost. For details go to https://www.logos.com/basic.

Jim Kissee

We’ve been praying for GCI pastor Jim Kissee and his wife Kaye. Jim has been battling cancer for about 20 months—going through two major surgeries and two lengthy courses of radiation.

Jim Kissee

Just recently, a team of specialists reviewed Jim’s case. One oncologist thought he saw on a CT scan a type of tumor that is typically fast-growing, though he is not sure. Jim will have another scan on September 12 to confirm or disprove the observation. As Jim noted, “though this is a little disconcerting, I am thankful for the thorough review.” Jim also expressed his thanks for your prayers and encouragement.

Cards may be sent to:

Jim and Kaye Kissee
601 N. 36th St
Nixa, MO