The 2013 Global Gathering of the Church of God is in the books in both the USA and in Europe and the Middle East. In this region (E/ME), we had churches and groups fan out across the region to celebrate the "Global Fellowship" weekend. Early reports are that it was a great success with everyone walking away wanting greater connection and fellowship.
Jamie, Marco, 3W Intern-Jessica MacDonald and I headed South to Italy to be with our friends in the Arco Church of God in Arco, Italy. The Church is new and small, but it is growing and there's clearly a core of committed lay people forming which will help propel it to greater growth in the future.
Jessica and I attended the youth event on Saturday night and we were extremely impressed with the quality of the youth lesson. Marcos Lovaglio did a fantastic job asking us what our image of Christ is and what we think his image of us is. It was important, because as Marcos explained, that impression really sets the tone (and parameters) for your relationship with God. It was a deep question and a thoughtful presentation. I'm so happy to see the youth group in Arco not just existing (not easy for such a young church plant), but growing AND leading worship. I think this is an excellent start.
The sermon by Pastor Lovaglio was excellent. Then we shared about the Global Fellowship and showed video of fellow Christians in our movement doing ministry. The Arco church will continue being a part of this fellowship.
The church people expressed how grateful they were to not be left out of this big event. The four of us were so glad we made the trip down to Arco to remind them that they are not alone! Many of us are praying for them and want to walk alongside this special church as it grows.
People always greatly enjoy these events that bring us together for a week from around the world. There's always a call for more. But one of the big lessons from "Mosaic" is that much of what we do in the Church of God actually encourages Balkanization instead of unity. I won't go into all of that now. Suffice to say that one key piece missing from every region to really create regular unity has been some organizational structure or mechanism that strives for regular connection.
In the old days, the Gospel Trumpet/Vital Christianity magazine achieved that connection to some extent. The old World Conference did as well, but that was not very frequent. The Church of God is so atomized around the world and has such a lack of structure and authority that there's not many ways to really bring everyone together with the INTENTION of creating international connection.
That's why the third part of our 3W Prism is "creating inner-connectivity in Europe, the Middle East and beyond." Because there has to be some organization that takes upon itself to make sure that this is happening more than just every 2 or 4 years. Isolation is not good for the soul. That goes for churches and countries as well. One of the most important things Three World's does is bring people together on a regular basis. Upon returning for Italy, it will be time to start finalizing the Summer Budapest Lectures which will be bringing together Bulgarians and Hungarians as well as Ken Oldham (3W-Middle East) for this regular event.
If the Church of God wants to have a regular event like the Global Gathering and more importantly, see an increase in synergistic relationships around the world, they will need to create the organizational structure, but also create an "ethos" that values partnership and cooperation instead of isolation and autonomy.
My hope is that the younger generations will push unity and synergy more. We can all, for instance, be a part of the success of Arco. The Kingdom expands better when we all help each other.