That sure sounds like an awkward theme for a Christian conference. But that was the theme for the 2019 Vous Conference in Miami. This theme hit on a key point that strangles today’s churches and Christians. Frequently, we look around waiting for some charismatic leader, innovative ministry or new move of God before we act.
But Jesus left His earthly ministry thousands of years ago. And Christ sent us forth to carry forward the Gospel. So, what are we doing standing around with our hands in our pockets?
Each person in the body of Christ has something to offer. We can’t stand around and say we don’t have what we need. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and hearth has been given to me, so therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Sure, this command was directed to the disciples. But it equally applies to Christians today.
Christians have the call, the example, the resurrecting power of Christ, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What else are we waiting for? Nobody else is coming.
Vous pastor, Rich Wilkerson Jr., challenged the conference attendees. He said, “Reaching the world for Jesus depends on the Church. Everyone and everything we need to change the world is in this room. We shouldn’t look around waiting for somebody else? We have a responsibility to carry forth the Gospel. If not you, then who?”
We all know people who need to know Jesus. So, why don’t we just make an introduction? We don’t have to cram religion down somebody’s throat. All we need to do is tell our story. We need them to know that Jesus is for them, no matter what they have done. Repentance is sweet, and it is the key to unlocking freedom from our past.
Rich said, “The Church of Jesus is the most powerful force on the planet.” Jesus declared that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church. Gates are defensive measures. Basically, Jesus was saying, “Not even hell is protected from the Church.”
The key point that Rich made in his opening talk was the importance of unity. He admitted, “The devil doesn’t fear a big church; he fears a united Church.” Unity is crucial for the Church to fulfill its mission. Rich added, “If you don’t have unity, you can’t have community.”
The key Scripture that Rich used was Jesus’ prayer as He approached the cross.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus stressed unity that leads to intimacy. It centers on love and directs people to God. More than just unity, Jesus was calling for oneness — when people are unified around the thoughts and plans of God.
Rich talked about the four things that get in our way:
Rich said, “It is really hard to carry out your calling if you are focusing on what others are doing around you.” You must be who God has designed and called you to be. Comparison is a trap that robs us of our potential. And in this social media driven culture, comparison is like a plague.
2.) Competition in Ministries
Many of those you are competing against don’t really care about competing against you. People want to do big things for God. But sometimes our call is smaller than we wish. As Rich said, “You will never get big if you refuse to be dedicated to the small.”
Rich stressed, “Authenticity comes from identity – what God has put inside of you that attracts others.”
The big problem is that competition causes jealous, which brings division. We need to get to a point where we say, “Your win in ministry is my win…Collaboration is multiplication.”
Rich said, “I am super competitive. You just have to know who your real competitor is.”
3.) Critical Spirit
Sure, we need to be discerning. We don’t need to approve of everything that another preacher or ministry does. My motto has been, “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” I try to look for what I can learn from others, even from those who may a bit off in places.
I also know that other ministries are not accountable to me. There is one Lord, and He will judge each believer for our actions. As the Apostle Paul asked, “Who am I to judge somebody else’s servant.” But Christians can be the worst in shooting our own.
Rich admitted, “I was ready for criticism. I just wasn’t expecting so much friendly fire.” If you are doing anything for Christ, expect to get some crossfire.
Where does a critical spirit lead? It will always lead to a doubting heart. It makes your vision smaller. We can choose if we want to a critic or if we want to be creative. But it is hard to truly be both.
4.) Character Falls Apart
Rich pointed out, “Charisma gets man’s attention. But it is character that gets God’s attention.” Your character is critical if you want a long, successful life and ministry. Charisma can only carry you so far if you don’t have the character to sustain your life pace. Every minster that falls starts with subtle compromises. We stop reading the Word for ourselves. We stop praying for the Lord to search out our heart and show us any wicked way within us. Character is not optional. It is the one thing we need to be a leader worth following.
Have any of these four stumbling blocks impacted your life or ministry? What is getting in the way of reaching your full potential in Christ? How could unity make the difference in your community? Now more than ever, it is critical in a country so divided.
God has sent you. Nobody else is coming. What are you going to do with God’s call?
Note: This is the first blog post in a series that is going to explore key themes and messages from the 2019 Vous Conference.