The importance of the relationships found in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) has been repeated over and over this week at Access 2017, the national conference of the FGBC which is being held at Grace Community Church, Fremont, Ohio (Kevin Pinkerton, pastor).
The conference began Tuesday morning with the GraceConnect breakfast and corporation meeting and continues through Thursday, July 15. More than 500 people from around the world are participating.
Main session speakers have been asked to share what advice they would give to someone who took them to lunch and asked them what was the most important thing about ministry.
Mike Yoder, pastor Grace Polaris Church, Columbus, Ohio, said, “I am who I am because of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.”
Speaking Tuesday morning, Mike, who grew up in a Grace Brethren church and was educated at Grace College and Seminary, where his parents were on the faculty, stressed the importance of knowing what you believe.
“Keep you eyes fixed on the Bible,” he stressed. “Follow it all the way in your lives,” he said.
Earlier in Tuesday morning’s session, Bill Katip, president of Grace College and Seminary, affirmed the college’s relationship to the FGBC. “Together we can be strong,” he said. “We can impact the world for Christ.”
The remainder of the morning and afternoon was filled with opportunities for people to connect and network. Sessions included leadership development, fundraising, solo pastoring, children’s ministry, volunteer recruitment, succession transition, discipleship, administration, and next generation ministry.
Tuesday evening, Kate Ward talked about humility. “Humility is hard,” she said, “but when we are aware of our posture, we have the opportunity to give the true living water that only God can give.”
She illustrated different positions of humility with a chair – standing on it, seated, or crosslegged on the floor in front of it.
Jeff Bogue finished the evening session with words of wisdom he might give over lunch – preferably sushi.
“In your ministries, lead with evangelism,” he said, after he affirmed Mike Yoder’s point about knowing what you believe.
“Evangelism and a passion for the lost needs to be the highest priority,” he stressed.
“If you are going to start a ministry, plant an orchard, not just a tree,” he added, encouraging growth through a movement, not a single location. Noting that Grace Church, Akron, Ohio, where he pastors, is “a mega church by every stretch of the imagination,” he noted that they’ve chosen to use their resources to “create a mega movement.”
Above all, he noted, “always allow your passion your passion for Jesus to deepen.” He looked at the admonitions to the church of Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-5, encouraging the pastors and leaders in the audience to be serious about the mission of Christ.
Grace College and Seminary held their dinner and corporation meeting on Tuesday. The evening ended with ice cream in the Student Center and an evening of music with Jeremy Byng and Jerermy Bury.
Jeremy Byng, who is worship pastor at Grace Community Church, Goshen, Ind. (Jim Brown, senior pastor), is leading worship this week at Access. Assisting him are worship pastors from around the Midwest – Jeremy and Terra Bury, Grace Church, Marysville, Ohio (Clancy Cruise, pastor); Jeremy Noland and Josh Howard, Movement Church, Hilliard, Ohio (Mark Artrip, pastor); Randy Surface, Brandon Doerfler, and Marcie Olson, Grace Fellowship, Pickerington, Ohio (Keith Minear, pastor); and Matt Carter, Grace Church, Wooster, Ohio (Nick Cleveland, senior pastor).
Main sessions are being live-streamed via the internet. Access the broadcast at access2017.com/#modal-streams.
Click here to see photos from Tuesday on Facebook.