"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel." -- Philippians 1:27 (NIV)
Over 300 representatives —delegates, service teams and guests including women's ministry leaders, elders, evangelists, teachers, administrators, campus and singles leaders, and teen ministers — gathered in Chicago from October 3-6, 2017 to discuss how to best move "Forward by Faith." We gathered from disparate backgrounds and geographies (over 150 nations represented), but we gathered "firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel."
During our times of praying and debating and voting and informing, God empowered us to rise to the charge to "conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." By the end of this historic gathering, we realized that the Holy Spirit had inspired, convicted, and guided us on a path of renewed trust, respect, cooperation and love. Although we still have a distance to go in some areas to reach true consensus, we all left Chicago with a new found prayerful confidence that we will get there together by the time we reach Panama City in October of 2018 as Jesus prayed in John 17:23, that we "may be brought to complete unity" on these important matters.
Prayers for and from Every Continent
Brothers and sisters from every inhabited continent presented the progress of the gospel in their respective countries. We were all encouraged to hear of expanding elderships, scores of church plantings, new ministry training academies, and faith-building anecdotes highlighting the power of the Spirit. At the same time, we were sobered by almost 100 cities with metro populations of at least one million still awaiting a church planting.
There is much to do. So we began with power. We prayed. We prayed for every continent, every need, every opportunity presented to us from the continental representatives. We logged over 300 collective hours of prayer during the continental presentations. Moreover, most arrived in Chicago after dedicating themselves to prayer and fasting for our brotherhood. (Click here to view the Continental presentations.)
From Collaboration to Town Hall Discussions
Our Chicago meeting represents an important mile marker for us as a global fellowship. It synthesized the recent collaborative efforts from 2500 leaders throughout 34 regional family discussions. Furnished with insights from these discussions, we assembled with broad consensus to reach the world for the gospel of Christ, to work together, and to communicate more effectively all along the way. While we all had the same great objective, we approached it with differing strategies and structures. Those strategies took shape in five task forces: global missions, conflict resolution, structure, communications, and financing. All five groups published and distributed their ideas to the delegates in the weeks leading up to the Chicago meeting. They also presented their ideas to the delegates to prepare all for a productive time of floor discussion and debate in town hall settings.
Each of the five task forces hosted a town hall discussion in a separate room. During the three hours budgeted for the debates, most delegates and visitors gravitated toward lively dialogue with the Structure Task Force. As one delegate noted after three hours with the Structure Task Force, "Never before could I imagine disagreeing with the majority opinion so publicly and so passionately. Before today, I would have feared being labeled or benched or marginalized. Today, I was heard and respected." Thus, those who engaged one another did so while maintaining the unity of the Spirit. (Click here to view the Task Force presentations.)
After the town hall discussions, we conducted a poll to gauge support for various ideas. With five options, the structure poll showed the most diversity of support.
11% supported a congress of churches model, 22% supported a regional chairmen model, 35% supported a region-building team model, 17% supported the current delegates model, while 16% indicated that they needed more time. If a single idea did not garner 75%+ support, then the task forces will develop the top two ideas for a 2018 proposal. Ordinarily that would narrow the structure development to only the regional chairmen model and the region-building team model. In this case, all 10 chairmen of the service teams more carefully reviewed this polling result, because many speculated that the majority of those who voted for "more time" would likely have voted for the current delegates model if they knew that the delegates model would fail to gain enough votes for further development. Therefore, the chairmen proposed that three models, rather than just two, would be developed more fully by the structure task force. The decision was very well received. So now the structure task force will expand its team to include more proponents of the current delegates model.
The results for the other task forces proved less complicated. See the graphics above. More thorough explanations of the options can be found online.
The Road Forward
The five task forces gained great insights from the town hall floor discussions with the delegates and service teams and were given direction for which concepts to develop further. Each task force will now either expand or reconfigure its team to include members who can best develop the options selected by the delegates' polling results. Please continue to pray for these teams as they seek "the wisdom that comes from heaven." Contact your delegate if you wish to provide input to the task forces by December 1st. By February 1, 2018, the task forces will enter their respective proposals into the delegates proposal process for multiple broad reviews resulting in the final proposals being voted on at the 2018 Delegates Meeting.
Access all the Presentations from Chicago
Please visit disciplestoday.com and icocleaders.org, for all ICOC 3.0 materials and ongoing updates as we move forward by faith. Click here for videos of all four days of the delegates meetings. All of the continental presentations and the task force presentation videos will be available at DToday.tv as soon as they are edited by ICOC HotNews.
Ed Anton (Teachers Service Team Chair), Walter Evans (Elders Service Team Chair), Doug Arthur (Evangelists Service Team Chair)