I am currently writing from beautiful Lago di Garda, Italy in the Italian Alps (Dolomites). I am here to visit the 2 church plants in Italy and speak there. For the past 2 1/2 weeks, I've been on the road in England, Hungary, and Italy with Greg and Mary Kay Wiens. Greg is the State Director of the Church of God in Florida and also a founder and leader of Healthy Growing Churches Network (a movement within the Church of God that is bringing revitalization to churches and the movement as a whole). Greg led the 3W Seminar in London on "Why Church plants die and Why they Succeed." It was excellent. That was followed by being the speaker at the 2nd "Budapest Lectures" where he gave an expanded presentation on that subject that encompassed a lot of information on what makes churches, ministry team, and pastors healthy. It was a wealth of information.
Now he is with me helping to take a look/assess the church plants in Italy.
Both Greg and I feel like it is do or die time for the Church of God Movement. As I wrote in my 3rd book: "Mosaic: A Journey Across the Church of God," either we make some serious re-calibrations within the next 10 years or there won't be much left after that. What we need is an organizational, missiological, and evangelical overhaul in the church of God movement.
It's been great having a lot of time with Greg over what will end up being a 3 week trip, to process and discuss all of these issues in-depth. We're both committed to ushering in health and are willing to make the hard decisions to do so. There is a price to pursuing health and making wise choices. It's not the default position of old churches or old movements. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, they lose the desire for health, fight change, and even lose the ability to identify what is healthy and what is not healthy. The longer an organization or church stays dysfunctional, the more it punishes (and chases off) it's visionaries and reformers. That leaves even less opportunity for change. It's a process of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. The system stays the same: unthreatened but dying nonetheless.
I'm glad to see that Greg has stayed the course and still has a passion for the Church of God despite the slings and arrows that that inevitably brings. And I'm glad to see that Greg joins me in not romanticizing the Early Church as the Church of God did/does. The Early Church was a mess much of the time. One that was not immune to having to be corrected and even shut down. Christian organizations and churches (like people) have to change if they are to mature.
I'm very proud of the leaders in the Europe/Middle East region. Everywhere from London, to Paris, to Berlin, to Budapest, to Russia, to the 3 churches in Italy and beyond---we are seeing churches willing to take some risks and usher in healthy change. It is absolutely phenomenal to be here right now. I think Greg was able to see that despite our small size (Europe being the hardest mission-field), our churches are on the cutting edge of thinking out of the box. It is an exciting time here!
And of course, I can't say enough about our Three Worlds Mission Team which has shown that it is possible to work in unity, free from division and competition, and being committed to empowering others (particularly the young), instead of ourselves, our reputations, and our careers. They are catalytic people that are making a regional difference.
All of Greg's sessions have been marvelous. Here is a sample of his thinking from the recent HGC Conference where he shares the need for Seismic Shifts. Thank you Greg for all you do.