GCI Update

Reflecting on Important 2022 Themes

Since this entire issue of Update is dedicated to looking back at 2022, we gave our hardworking president a break from writing. In place of a letter, I combined all of Greg’s letters from the entire year and generated a word cloud. A word cloud is an image composed of words in a particular text, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. You will see by this image, that the word “Jesus” occurred more than any other word in the president’s letters. As it should be! Amen?

Allow me to point out another word. Greg mentioned his wife, Susan, so often that she showed up in our word cloud. How appropriate! We’re grateful for Susan and her tireless devotion to our denomination. I am sure our members around the globe who received a visit from our president in 2022 were equally blessed by Susan’s presence. Thank you, Susan.

Have a meaningful and merry Christmas,
Elizabeth Mullins
Update Editor


 

In Case You Missed It

  1. Place-sharing Check out this video series to learn what place-sharing is, why it’s valuable, and how it reflects the ministry of Jesus.
  2. Learn more about GCI’s 3–Year Plan, designed to bring movement through a collaborative team process, aligning our efforts in a way we have never done before.
  3. A Ministry Training Center is a site dedicated to the development and multiplication of young emerging leaders through provision of strategic ministry equipping within the life of the church. Check out the development:
  4. Interview with Walter Kim Greg Williams talks with the President of the National Association of Evangelicals about GCI’s relationship with the organization.
  5. Three Questions We Must Answer As we focus on the Love Avenue and our theme, Compelled by Love, there are three questions each one of us needs to address.
  6. The Art of Being a Neighbor How can we love people we do not know? This Church Hack outlines some tips to build relationships with your neighbors.
  7. Toward Healthy Church As we focus on aspects of healthy church, there are various terms we use commonly. Check out this list of definitions.
  8. Worship Calendar
    • GC Podcast Listen to this episode about how the Love Avenue rhythms fit together with the worship calendar.
    • BUZZ—Worship Calendar This BUZZ outlines the background, purpose, and common terms of the worship calendar.
  9. Avenue Tool kits –These are tools to help you discern your next steps as you build your Avenues. Each session outlines best practices and reflection questions to help you apply the principles to your context.
  10. GC Podcast—Missional Discipleship In this episode, author and church planter, John Ritner, discusses best practices for team-based ministry in a post-Christian culture. Jon will be the keynote speaker at the GCI Denominational Celebration in June 2023.

 

The Year in Pictures

Dedication of the MTC and church in Surrey Hills, OK, US—January

 

Group of 20 people seated in training room
US Pastor Orientation, Charlotte, NC, US—February
Youth Ministry Gathering, Baguio, Philippines—March
Love Avenue Workshop, Surrey Hills, OK, US—March
Compelled by Love Conference, Lusaka, Zambia—April
Neighborhood Camp, Jacksonville, FL, US—June
Outside the Walls Event, Ladson, SC, US—June
European Conference, United Kingdom—June
Youth baptisms, Lancaster, CA, US—June
Neighborhood Camp, Surrey Hills, OK, US—June
Neighborhood Playground Pop-Up, Cleveland, OH, US—July
Homecoming Conference, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada—August
MTC Launch Celebration, Accra, Ghana—August
Aus conference 2022
Australasia Conference, Queensland, Australia—August
Celebration, Fiji—August
Spanish Heritage Community Engagement, Sun Valley, CA, US—September
National Ministry Team, Manila, Philippines—September
Elementary School Bible Club, Derby, KS, US—October
House Church, Bangladesh—November

We Want to Hear from You

We’re wrapping up the year and our 2022 theme, Compelled by Love! We would love to hear from you. Tell us how you experienced being compelled by Christ’s love this year. Were you intentional about developing missional rhythms? What on-going, regular habits did you incorporate into your daily life to love your neighbors?

For example, do you take regular walks around your home and greet your neighbors? Do you visit the same coffee shop or cafe weekly? Does your church host the same event at the same park every three months?

Stay Tuned for 2023

Dear family and friends,

We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for us in 2023. Our theme will be “Faith, Hope, and Love in Action.” This fits our progression from 2022, when we launched our journey into a 3-year global plan for renewal in GCI. In 2022, we learned the concepts of Team Based—Pastor Led and the accompanying Ministry Avenues of Faith, Hope, and Love. Now it’s time to set the wheels in motion as we participate with Jesus in the power of the Spirit. May the Faith, Hope, and Love of Jesus flow through us to others as we point others to him in our words, deeds and worship!

In Jesus,
Greg Williams

Denominational Celebration—Register Now!

Celebration Childcare—Volunteers pay no registration fee!

Guided Prayers

Join us in these communal Christmas Week Prayers, taken from the December Prayer Guide. Never miss a day by receiving our monthly Prayer Guide straight to your email inbox before the first of the month! Sign up here.

Wednesday, December 21

Read Luke 2:1-7. 

In the hustle and bustle of many traveling to their hometowns for the census, Joseph and Mary found and made space for Jesus to be born in a stable. It is easy to be distracted by busyness, broken relationships, or blind ambitions – these take up space in our hearts and minds. Take time to reflect and pray today: “What is crowding Christ out of my heart this Advent season, and how can I begin to surrender it?” Let us make room for all Christ has to offer us.

Thursday, December 22

Read Luke 1:67-46. 

After giving up hope on having a child, Zechariah is filled with the Spirit after the birth of his son John the Baptist, who would continue to prophesy the long-awaited Messiah. We also live in times that seem like God’s promises and faithfulness to us are far off or delayed, but we can rest assured that we have a God who is working for the good of all of humanity, and always will! Take some time to reflect on how you have seen the Spirit move in your life this year. Like Zechariah, turn your reflections into a prayer of thanksgiving to our loving God. 

Friday, December 23

Lectio Divina. Slowly read Isaiah 9:6- 7 two or three times.  

Read the passage one more time. What word or phrase sticks out to you? Mediate on this word or phrase. 

God has been speaking to you through his word.  Now respond to him.

Saturday, December 24—Christmas Eve 

On the eve of the birth of Christ, may we be filled with wonder at the hope we have in Jesus. May we experience peace, knowing you are our Emmanuel. We ask for your hope, joy, and love to fill us afresh.

Sunday, December 25—Christmas

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, hope for the world. We are grateful for a God who is faithful in all things and is faithful in coming to us. We cry out for a fresh awareness of who you are. We choose by faith to make the “good news of great joy” a reality in our own lives so that your light in our lives points others to you this Christmas. We know that peace on earth can only come when hearts find peace with you. 

Devotional—One-word Prayer

There is something about starting a new year that brings energy, excitement, and hope. The flipping of the calendar from December 31 to January 1 is a built-in rhythm of renewal.

It wasn’t always that way for me, but ten years ago I heard about a trend called #OneWord365. The premise is to get rid of resolutions and choose instead a single word “that sums up who you want to be and how you want to live.” I embraced this idea and prayerfully considered a single word to summarize how I saw God at work in my life.

Taking this rather simple step radically changed the year for me, with my one word serving as a short breath-prayer connecting me to God who is closer to me than my very breath. The simplicity of a one-word prayer practice brought renewal to my life in these ways:

    • It gave me focus—a lens to see how God was working in my life.
    • It brought about a significant shift from focusing on results (willing myself to “improve”) to focusing on formation. I was joining a theme as I noticed God teaching me about who he is and who I am in him.
    • It created a consistency of tranquility in my life. Over the course of a year, we go through many seasons and emotions, which match the calendar or reflect our circumstances. My one word provides a reminder that no matter the season, I have a High Priest who has been through it all and is abounding with the grace and mercy I need.

Here are a few things to consider if you decide to begin your own practice of one-word prayer:

    • Look for a current theme. Reflect on the past year. How has God worked in and around you? Is there a longing you’ve been frequently feeling? How can it be met?
    • Work out the why. After I select my one word, I begin journaling the need for and the purpose of that theme in my life. I often come up with a tagline to add to the one word that reminds me of the purpose (the why) for the word for the next 365 days. One year I realized I was living to the maximum in all areas of my life: time, emotions, finances etc. So, my one word and tagline for the following year became, “Margin: making space for God’s best.”
    • Commit to your word. I do so by writing it where I’ll notice when I’m bustling through the busyness of everyday life—places like the fridge, my desk calendar, or my bathroom mirror.

Whether or not you choose one word for yourself this year, I pray that you will still experience the benefits of one-word prayer, with 2023 being for you a year of continual renewal. In the words of the apostle Paul, I pray that “your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10 ESV).

Prayer.

Jesus, at the close of each year, I inevitably realize that I didn’t “do” very much, but you did. When we’re resting, you are still working. When we’re paralyzed with fear, you go before us and prepare a way. Even when we’re fleeing, you are seeking. No matter what we’re doing, you are always actively working it all for our good and your Father’s glory. Jesus, I’m grateful for the way the one-word prayer practice has solidified the truth of your active presence in my life. Amen.

By Michelle Fleming
Communications Director