The Ministry Forums… Who Had This Bright Idea?
Some have asked, “Why are the Ministry Forums being conducted and are they really needed?” I’m certainly glad to offer the best answers I possibly can.
It’s natural that often, there is some prejudging based upon possible and perceived disappointments of other similar events that may have not lived up to their billing and promotion. Then of course and most often, there is simply a sincere desire from interested constituents to be as informed as possible in order to participate fully and with confidence in the process.
With a calendar full of commitments to church visits, board meetings and conferences, I wasn’t looking to add twenty-two more commitments to it this year. I really don’t have this chemical within me that requires a “fix” of sniffing jet fuel on a daily basis. Nor do I have a penchant for the grueling punishment of 4:00 a.m. wake up alarms for an early morning departure on the first plane out to another city.
Why Have The Forums?
So why have the Forums? Well, the short answer is this: We are having the Ministry Forums is in response to the measure passed by the 2018 General Assembly which reads in part:
- That open Ministry Forums be conducted globally to provide opportunity for deliberate and meaningful discussion, dialogue, questions/answers and time for spiritual insight regarding the importance and understanding of ministry ranks, qualifications, and women in leadership positions with attention upon the meaning and usage of the title “bishop.”
The Ministry Forums are an acknowledgement of the General Assembly, and a response to continual motions and proposals submitted to the International Executive Council, that it is time for studies be completed, and decisions be made that will address these issues.
The Ministry Forums in no way diminish the role of the General Council; they do however give the entire constituency of the Church of God, both laypersons and ministers an opportunity to speak to these very important issues that effect the entire church.
The Ministry Forums provide the opportunity for the church to hear diverse perspectives and gain greater insight in considering biblically sound responses to the issues before us.
Finally, the Ministry Forums are a practical way for the constituents of the church, both ministers and laypersons, to engage with denominational leaders in a relaxed environment that is conducive to constructive and meaningful dialog.
It is already evident that information received will be invaluable to the International Executive Council in preparing a meaningful agenda with a missional focus of Finishing the Great Commission. Recently, several participants have reached out to me expressing their thoughts about the forums. Here are some of their comments:
“The Global Ministry Forum in the Heartland delivered as promised; a time to dialogue and discuss the issues that concern us (the Church of God), with no commercials or promotions from Cleveland. The agenda format was streamlined and every speaker/member was given sufficient time to speak on one or all topics. Plenty of time was also given to discuss any other topics that the speaker/member wished to address. I believe the Global Ministry Forums will yield much fruit and prove to be one of the best decisions we’ve made.”
- Pastor Ken Angel - Oklahoma
The respect, sincerity and willingness to listen was obvious and amazing. I had a sense of peace about sharing opinions and ideas, knowing that I would truly be heard. Seeing people of all ages, race, and genders, feeling welcomed to voice their hearts on the hot topic issues within our movement, was comforting.
- Rachel Macon, Children’s Minister - Oklahoma
“I am thankful for the forum in the Heartlands region! Anyone who desired, was able to speak to the challenges and opportunities we face together as a movement. I was very thankful that our General Overseer and team were there to facilitate this meeting without overwhelming us with promotional materials! I am thankful for Bro. Hill and the leadership allowing us a forum where we were all received as equals, and felt that they truly valued the thoughts each person had to share!
- Pastor Lowell Sartin - Arkansas
I appreciated that the forum gave opportunity for ministers and laity alike to share their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the issues that seem to be continuously resurfacing in our denomination. The smaller, intimate, informal setting of the forum afforded people the courage and opportunity to share; many of which would probably not have done so otherwise.
- Michelle Wright, Youth & Discipleship Ministry - Oklahoma
What an inspiring sight it was to experience Church of God credentialed ministers – young and maturing, female and male – as well as CoG membership, having an open platform, with ample time and evident leadership receptivity, to express their hearts regarding the four topics of discussion at the Global Forums, especially the topics of the Title of Bishop and Women in Leadership. Listening to the comments and hearing the passion of those who spoke brought great optimism that the future of the Church of God is bright and positive as passionate women and men expressed their love, commitment, and passion to see the Church of God move forward providing the credentialed ministry corps equal opportunity to lead and minister to the generations that will come. The Global Forums worldwide are providing a unique platform to the frontline member and minister to be appreciated, validated, and heard, for that I am eternally grateful.
- Pastor Kevin Query - California
When I first heard that one of the open forums was coming to the Heartland Region, I was excited because I felt like this opportunity could empower the voices of the Heartland to share their heart on some of the important matters to the Church of God. This event did not disappoint. There was plenty of time for people to voice their heart and there was respect, order and passion in all discussions. The atmosphere was laid back which I think made it more comfortable for some to speak that might not have spoken otherwise. We truly felt as if our voice was important.
- Pastor Chris Holder - Oklahoma
So, whose idea was it to conduct the forums? Well, I pray that the leading of the Holy Spirit may have had something to do with it. May that be the case with all of the Global Church Ministry Forums.