The Teachers Service Team met in early April in Dallas of 2017.
Here are the items we discussed:
The Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology (RMSMT)
We began with a report from Glenn Giles, the director of the Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology in Denver. The school offers both online and hybrid (online and face-to-face) classroom courses toward three state authorized Master's degrees, one in Christian Ministry and one in Biblical Studies and now a Master's Degree in Biblical Studies with Languages (Greek and Hebrew). The school also in its relationship with Lincoln Christian University provides for students to transfer up to half of the credits taken at RMSMT toward LCU accredited Masters degrees in ministry and theology, including specifically the Master of Arts in Bible and Theology and the Master of Divinity degrees. We have just had our first RMSMT student (Jan Louie Uy) transfer graduate credits into the LCU Master of Arts in Bible and Theology program.
March 2016 MeetingThe first service team meeting of 2016 was in March. The primary discussion for this meeting was the women's role. The teachers are studying the biblical role of women and how we can better utilize the gifts of women in our churches. The Women's Service Team asked us to consider this topic.
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. – Psalm 105:1 (NLT)
Over the last few months, over 2,400 leaders from all of our family of churches around the world have been going through a healthy evaluation of the ICOC as a global movement. Three of the strongest topics of consensus have been:
Formation and Funding of a Kingdom Unity Fund
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12
We are grateful to be part of the body of Christ and part of our families of churches who are so committed to God, to each other and to taking the good news of Jesus to every person. We are also grateful for the leadership God provides among our family to help us examine our faith to see how we can better serve God. Earlier this year, the ICOC 3.0 Forward by Faith discussions were held in every one of our 34 regional families around the globe including 2400 leaders. The results of those discussions stimulated the forming of five task forces to address areas of consensus. The Finances Task Force submits this report in response to the charge given to us to present options for funding for global needs.
“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” – Ephesians 2:21
Following the crisis in our churches in 2003, over a period of time 96% of the ICOC churches committed to the Plan for United Cooperation. In 2007 a structure of delegates and service teams was set in place to provide a means to talk and to collaborate with each other and build unity. (See ICOC Leadership Timeline 2003-2020.) While this structure has been very helpful in keeping us together after our crisis, some have voiced concern that it makes for slow decision-making and that the delegate system may have outlived its purpose. In 2015 the Service Team chairmen initiated a self-study with an ICOC-wide survey asking brotherhood leadership to evaluate several aspects of our fellowship including our commitment to global missions and whether we should attempt to improve our coordination and organizational structure. A follow-up second survey was sent out for leadership teams to take in the fall of 2016. The concerns those surveys reflected were discussed in the leadership and Delegates meetings in 2015 and 2016. Those who took those surveys assumed their answers would weigh in on the discussions that would come up at the April 2017 Spring Leadership Meeting in Dallas. In response to the input, videos and documents were distributed in advance of the Spring Meetings for attendees to prayerfully consider in prayerful preparation. We appreciate that all participants willingly engaged in the discussions.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.” – Ephesians 4:16
As we consider the continued development and effort to take the gospel to the “ends of the earth” we marvel at what God has done and what we believe God will continue to do through us as his people. We are incredibly humbled at the purposefulness with which our lives are filled through the mission of spreading the gospel message of Jesus to all the world.
Many scriptures show us that unresolved conflict is displeasing and unacceptable to God (Matthew 5:23-26, Hebrews 12:14-15). Unresolved conflicts are grave and sinful, and call for urgency and conclusiveness in resolving them amongst us as disciples. When we don’t resolve conflicts, they can grow, fester and linger with significant costs to our spirituality, emotions, unity and finances. These disagreements, and sometimes disruptions, can go as far as splitting churches and the brotherhood.
Maintaining Unity of the Spirit through the Bond of Peace
Never before as a fellowship have so many engaged in a collaboration process as with the ICOC 3.0 Forward by Faith discussions. Facebook, emails, FaceTime, Skype calls, articles, phone calls, have all been ignited as we dream, discuss and debate our path forward as an international family of churches. Around the world disciples continue to pray and fast seeking the Spirit’s guidance. Disciples Today has never seen so much traffic to understand our current leadership and check in for the updates and results of this global exploration. We have seen the results of conversations by more than 2,500 leaders from all six continents. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women, staff and volunteers alike are continuing to be heard in this conversation about our collective future. Many have said “I have been praying for this day to come”; while others have suggested that we “slow down, these are really big things to consider and we should be more thorough.” We are a family of 108,000 members in 684 congregations in 144 countries. A big family gets a little complicated and we are grateful for the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus that bind us together in love and respect.
Our global leadership has spoken and we are listening.
These are exciting times to be part of our fellowship. We have embarked on a comprehensive self-evaluation like none we have ever experienced before entitled “Forward by Faith” ICOC 3.0. From coast to coast and continent to continent leaders of all ages have engaged in significant discussions about where we are as a movement and more importantly, where we want to go. More than 2,400 elders, evangelists, women’s ministry leaders, interns, lay leaders and board members have met from every family of churches around the world. We are hearing from disciples from China to Chile, from India to Indiana and from Lagos to LA.