by Karen Garrett
The Brethren Revival Fellowship hosted several events during the 2017 Annual Conference, including an annual dinner on Saturday evening, July 1, and an insight session focused on the Conference theme, among other events that included a BRF luncheon on Friday, June 30, with Annual Conference moderator-elect Samuel Sarpiya. Both the dinner and the insight session addressed inspiring questions.
What does it mean to be ‘all-in’ for Jesus?
The annual dinner is a time of fellowship, food, and inspiration for the BRF. The fellowship’s moderator, Eric Brubaker, reminded the gathered body that BRF is revivalist, not separatist. The BRF endeavors to influence the Church of the Brethren through publications, meetings, and actions.
An octet of youth from Blue River Church of the Brethren in South/Central Indiana District opened the dinner program with three a cappella hymns. Craig Smith presented the message titled “The ALL-IN Church.” Smith asked what it means to be “all-in” for Jesus, and gave three answers:
1. Go: Jesus tells us to go, not to sit in the pew and wait for people to come. Churches too often fail to reach out to the community around them. Smith cautioned that we do not change our message about Jesus and salvation, rather we might need to change some methods.
2. Glow: we need to be a glowing church shining Christ’s light to all. People like to go to a church where people are excited to be there. People are watching us. They want to know that Jesus is the real deal.
3. Grow: we need to be a growing church. Growing does not mean adding people to the pews, it means growing the church of Christ. A living church will be a growing church, because every living thing is intended to grow. If it does not grow, it dies.
Don’t grumble about the new person sitting in “your pew.” Scoot over and make room for those God brings to your church!
Is there hope in the midst of turmoil?
A different question prompted discussion at an insight session led by the BRF and sponsored by Atlantic Northeast District: In the midst of turmoil, is there any hope? This insight session offered a BRF response to the Annual Conference theme, “Risk Hope.”
Carl Brubaker of Mohler Church of the Brethren, and a member of the BRF Steering Committee, shared an examination of the biblical guidance for finding hope in today’s chaos. He began by defining hope. The following quote--his paraphrase of something he heard or read--is worth considering: Hope is an indispensable quality of life for people of faith, as much as air is critical to breathing. This theme ran through his presentation.
The word hope is used more frequently in scripture than the word turmoil, Brubaker said. He sees three areas of turmoil in our current culture: 1. political rhetoric that seems to lead to a sense of turmoil; 2. morality that seems to be in free fall as many structures, such as the family structure, is breaking down, which leads to turmoil and to more of us living in fear as the world seems to be more dangerous; and 3. spiritual weakness, as the church loses--or perhaps ignores--the importance of speaking on spiritual matters. In addition, Brubaker reminded the session that scripture assures us that turmoil will increase.
To leave his hearers with some hope, Brubaker shared five points to remember: 1. God is still in control and on the throne, and we have a purpose as we serve him; 2. God’s word is trustworthy and true, the final authority in matters of faith and practice; 3. God’s people are still called to obedience, and turmoil is not an excuse to disobey God’s word; 4. God calls us to love others, friends, those with whom we disagree, and even our enemies; 5. God is not finished with the church, and we do not know the future. As a denomination, we may be in for an interesting ride, but regardless, God’s obedient church will survive.
God calls us to be a witness and share with others the hope that lies within us.