Over the past few months, I have uttered the same phrase to myself 100s of times, “Crazy Times!” Much of what we have faced falls into two categories, among others. First, the experiences of the past few months are unprecedented. As one of our national leaders pointed out, “none of us has ever dealt with these kinds of issues before.” We have all waded into the water for the first time. How reassuring is it to know our Father has the wisdom and experience to be a first-class guide, helping each of us, in our unique locale, to keep moving the gospel forward.
Second, much of what we witness in our culture defies logic. There does not seem to be a clear and reason- able explanation for what is happening, nor an obvious path forward. Change is our only constant. Fluidity and pivot are words that have bubbled to the surface as the common responses to what is going on. How reassuring it is to know our Father is immutable and remains consistent in the midst of national and global confusion.
I cannot express how impressed and grateful I am for the Charis Fellowship during this time in history. Maybe I was too pessimistic, but I thought the events of the past months would do more harm than it has. Our churches and church leaders, along with our national ministry leaders, have stepped up and banded together.
I sense a very strong bond. I hope I’m not just being naïve, but I think we are connecting well and helping hold each other up like never before. Not that we have never aided one another, but it seems to me that we are reaching out and talking, praying, and assisting in special and unique ways. From what I see, I have never been prouder to be a Charis Fellowship pastor.
Like most of you, I have not only been introduced to Zoom (online conference) meetings but can relate to the new colloquialism, Zoom fatigue. Who knew the kinds of shifts we would have to make to keep our ministries moving forward and our message continually proclaimed?
But you did it! You pivoted! I have heard story after story of the difficult, but successful, changes being made throughout our tribe. From our rural churches to our national ministries, God has opened a way to not only survive, but in many ways thrive in new, and unexpected, ways. We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus Himself proclaimed that He would build His church. I should not be shocked by our strength and steadfast movement forward. He is doing His work among us.
Along with the blessings, there are also tough choices made by our local pastors and their leadership teams, our national ministry executives, our missionaries, etc. One of my hard decisions was to postpone Access2020.
After receiving much counsel, I felt that trying to have a wonderful gathering this summer would simply not work. I decided to move the entire conference, along with its theme and location, to July 2021. I am excited for that time together and we have already added some new elements that were not available to us this summer.
At the same time, we did not want us to do anything this year. After lots of ideas were shared, we landed on an online celebration. With the extra work placed on so many people who lead local ministries, there is a sense of fatigue. Our national ministry leaders are also working to prepare for the future. Hosting a summer event that would encourage people would be warranted and well received. A creative team was assembled, and they have been working diligently to plan an exciting Sunday evening that we hope will engage every Charis Fellowship congregation and every church member. Because our face-to-face meeting this year has been postponed until 2021, a unique, online gathering will be held Sunday, July 26, 2020. We are calling this event ‘We Are One.’
We Are One will be the largest gathering in the Charis Fellowship’s history! We will hear from leaders throughout the Fellowship, experience worship across North America, and gain resources that benefit your local congregation. We will focus on We are One in Truth, We Are One in Mission, and We Are One in Relationship. A pre-service live broadcast will feature our Canadian friends. The intention of this celebration is simply to encourage your heart and the hearts of everyone in your church.
I encourage you to create watch parties where people can gather to engage in the event. Whether that means your entire church viewing together, small groups meeting in homes, or individual families tuning in to watch, I hope that every Charis Fellowship person will join. It will be a wonderful time of encouragement and excitement. We will be lifting Jesus up and celebrating His glory and goodness. You will be inspired and blessed.
This virtual gathering is happening the last Sunday in July at 6 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Pacific. Mark your calendars to gather your faith family for a watch party on all major livestream platforms. You will not want to miss the opportunity to champion our family, our foundation, and our future. For more information go to WeAreOne.Video.
Thank you for being a part of this incredible season in history. May God continue to lead and bless you, your family, and your ministry. — by Phil Sparling, executive director, Charis Fellowship. (Phil Sparling is also the senior pastor at Auburn Grace Community Church, Auburn, Calif.)
As of press time, a schedule for the workshops and cohorts the week of July 26 had not been finalized. See charisfellowship.us/page/weAreOneBreakouts for up-to-date information.