Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
I am still processing my visit to the Tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) over the last week and suspect that I will be for a long to come. The assembly is a combination of the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly, the richest continuing education seminars that you can imagine, and the beginning of a bad joke (an Ethiopian Baptist, Japanese Presbyterian, and a Colombian Pentecostal walk into a conference room…). The fullness of the days and the amazing array of experiences and connections made it like the twenty-course meal I shared with a friend during my time in Busan (pictured below left).
As the one eating this feast, it was wonderful. Amazing. Exhausting. Delicious. It is a real privilege of my call at the Presbyterian Mission Agency to attend gatherings like this. I enjoyed worship, Bible study, and, especially the conversation about renewal about which I blogged earlier this week. Each course was tasty, but, like the pictured meal to the left, some I enjoyed better than others. All in all, though, it was a meal I won’t forget.
One of the greatest challenges facing the WCC in the future is how to get more people to enjoy the feast—that is, for the work of the Council and of this Assembly to impact people in the pews. How can the work on renewal, for instance, actually contribute toward renewal in local churches? There were about thirty of us enjoying that conversation—but what difference does it make for the churches I serve if I’m the only one eating that course—rather than letting Jesus multiply it like fishes and loaves.
There was a time when the Presbyterian Mission Agency sought to do mission on behalf of the church—that is, when local churches would send money to the Agency, and the Agency in turn would be the ones actually doing the ministry. More recently, however, the Agency is working hard to inspire, equip, and connect churches to do ministry, because congregations are the primary place that ministry happens—that is, they are the place through which most people actually do ministry.
A turn in this direction would be helpful for the WCC as well. By being reminding again and again that the conversations and interactions there are meant to encourage and support local churches, the impact of the assembly would be multiplied like the mustard seed Gospel. Of course, the participants each have a burden to figure out how our experiences can bear fruit in the local church. I’ll be thinking about how I can do that with the conversations about renewal.
To follow the last days of the World Council of Churches Assembly, click here.
For another blog post from me on the WCC concerning unity and diversity, click here.
For another blog post from me from earlier this year discussing the issue of ecumenism in the pews and the National Council of Churches, click here.