We're leaving for Washington D.C. very, very early in the morning and will be back tomorrow night, and then we leave for Nashville right after the Sunday Celebration, so I'm starting this article now, and will add to it throughout the weekend as I find the time. You can go ahead and start adding your comments now...
Even as I write this I am posting your comments pertaining to the last article, and I want you to know that I feel your faith. Thanks for making BLOGINTHENOW much more than just a blog...
This is what I'd like to hear from you...What part of CITN are you celebrating this weekend? What does this Anniversary mean to us as a Prophetic Community? What creative words do you have to speak over the next 23 years? What is the Spirit of God saying to you right now about the role of this church body in the world, and in your personal life?
I'm posting this on Friday night, and will continue it, as I said, over the next two days. I may not even be able to finish it until Monday night after we get back in town, so this is going to be a different kind of post, but it's going to be important. So, let's get started...
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF EMBRACING “THE NOW”!
The name Church In The Now is a prophetic name...it is our mandate from the Holy Spirit, Who is the Divine Officer of Protocol, to always stay in the now, because God is always in the now! God is the "I Am" (Exodus 3:14), not the "I was" or the "I will be". God is eternal, and eternity is best defined as "the now". CITN is a place where you can always experience the "presence" of God ("God is our refuge and strength, an ever-PRESENT help in trouble" - Psalms 46:1 TNIV ). Many people miss the miracle of the now because they are too distracted by regret over the past, or fear of the future. But at CITN you are encouraged to "forget what is behind" (Philippians 3:13), and to stop worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34), so that you can say THIS is the day that the Lord has made! CITN is a community of faith, and faith is always "now" ("NOW faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 TNIV) In the natural we are 23 years old, but in the spiritual, we are totally IN THE NOW!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL!
While we embrace all people of faith around the world, and honor and respect their beliefs, whatever they may be, our own theology remains decidedly Christian and orthodox. The dictionary defines orthodoxy as the quality of being orthodox (especially in religion) a belief or orientation agreeing with conventional standards. The word is from the Greek ortho ('right', 'correct') and doxa ('thought', 'teaching', 'glorification'), and is typically used to refer to the correct theological or doctrinal observance of religion, as determined by some overseeing body; those beliefs which reflect the faith of the whole Church since the time of the apostles; a term used in a number of senses, of which the following are the most important: (1) Orthodoxy in the literal sense of 'right belief,' as opposed to heresy; (2) Orthodoxy in the sense of the forms of Christianity which are dominant in the East. We honor the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and other historical and foundational Christian statements of faith, because of their relevance to our ministry. The message of Reconciliation that we preach is organic, original and orthodox Christian theology…the Gospel of the Kingdom!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF THE EXALTATION OF LOVE!
Everything that we preach…indeed, everything that we stand for, should and must be potentially summed up in these three words: GOD IS LOVE. This and all gospel preaching/teaching must meet that criteria – if it doesn’t demonstrate and exalt the love of God, it’s not the gospel. More than anything else, we at CITN must always strive to be stewards of that gospel, the definition of which is simply: the good news. The true, eternal gospel of God is positive, proactive and life-affirming, so we never want to be labeled as a church that doesn’t believe in something or who is “against” a particular doctrine. We cannot reconcile that kind of negative posturing with the constructive nature and life-giving essence that is required of authentic gospel preaching!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX!
The Conyers and Rockdale County that I first encountered in 1985 was quite a different place than it is now. At that time I was a very idealistic young man, and I came here, full of faith and attitude, to establish a local congregation that would be more than just another local Charismatic church. I didn’t want to lead and pastor an established church body, because I had a vision for a different kind of place that would be built upon the words recorded in Psalms 2:8 (KJV), which says Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Better translations use the word “nations” rather than “heathen”, but either word was a prophetic stretch for mid-80’s Conyers, GA. But the revelation of that powerful Scripture manifested, as a diverse group of people met together for the first time in May of 1985 in a little storefront on Royal Drive. The county then was 90% white, very religious, and extremely conservative, but we were eclectic and multicultural from that very first day.
But CITN (then Word of Faith) was about more than just multiculturalism, it was about the creation of an alternative to irrelevant, traditional church, and religious “business as usual”. And 23 years later, my faith is stronger, and my ideals are higher than they were then. And even though I am no longer a young man, chronologically (although I feel younger now than I did then), I am definitely more out of the box than I was 23 years ago, and I show no signs of moving toward the safety of mainstream mediocrity. Two decades plus of leading a church like this in a community like this has convinced me that anything is possible!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF WALKING BY FAITH!
This ministry has been an adventure of faith from the beginning, and twenty-three years later we are still learning to walk in the fullness of our unique destiny. It is written that the just shall LIVE BY FAITH, and so twenty-three years later, this house of worship is still discovering new ways to overcome the growth obstacles that exist for a truly multicultural church. Twenty-three years later, CITN is still attempting to create a real sense of community in a church that was not birthed out of an established community or a denomination. Twenty-three years later, the leadership of this church is still trying to instill within this body a sense of ownership among the people, and a comprehension of the need for them to be investors in it. And so this weekend we celebrate how far we’ve come, but we also take inventory of where we are on the journey. We've come this far by faith, but we’ve only just begun. We call those things which are not as though they are, because we’ve been called to do what hasn’t been done before!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF VISION!
I am, and I believe that many of you are, totally committed to the ideal of 100% participation among the membership of CITN…the realization of a vision to reach the goal of Everyone Actively Contributing and Helping. (E.A.C.H.) In the natural, it appears that not everyone who attends the church understands this yet. The Scriptures say that where there is no vision, the people perish, and a better translation is “where there is no prophetic revelation, the people cast off restraint”. In other words, a real commitment to discipline only comes through vision.
I refuse to believe that the manifestation of a workable E.A.C.H. program – a mindset among the people that causes full community commitment – is a goal that is unrealistic or unreachable. Because I believe that there is nothing more powerful in the world than the power of vision...and becuase I am convinced that the vision of this ministry is God-inspired...I am fully persuaded that, eventually, everyone connected to this ministry will become an active part of it, a real asset to it, and a actual contributor to its success!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT!
As we enjoy the fruit of our labor on this anniversary, I believe that now is the time to make real the promises of every prophecy that has been spoken over this ministry in the last twenty-three years. And, as many of you know, it has been prophesied that CITN will do something that hasn’t been done before. On one level, I believe that that means that we will move from some of the people doing all of the work and all of the giving (as is typical in many if not most churches), to the new possibility of everyone pulling their weight and making a real contribution to the greater good. Now is the time to lift our church from the quicksands of mediocrity to the solid rock of being a successful megachurch, so that we can do, in the larger world around us, what has never been done by a church before. What all does that entail? I don’t fully know at this point, but I do believe that now is the time to make this ministry be all that it can be. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!
SATURDAY NIGHT: BACK FROM WASHINGTON...EVERYTHING WAS AWESOME...TELL YOU ABOUT IT TOMORROW!
ON THIS CITN ANNIVERSARY WEEK-END WE CELEBRATE 23 YEARS OF COMMUNITY!
I said under #5 that we were still walking by faith when it comes to creating a covenant community, but I need to clarify that statement. Although we are still growing into full megachurch/metron reality, there is, without a doubt, already a very strong and vibrant cross section of CITN, too large to simply be called a core group, which is literally a church within the church. And that “inner church” (and you know who you are)…that wheel in the middle of the wheel, if you will...is already pulling its weight through called and responsible Kingdom people who are actively participating in every way. And so I speak to those of you who comprise that part of CITN, and I exhort you to not look down on those who don’t see the vision yet. You must love them, set an example for them, and encourage them to see the benefits of becoming a part of this body that is fitly joined together. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed those who comprehend what this church needs to be must not lead us to reject those who stay on the periphery, for they are our brothers and sisters. Let us pray that they come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny…that they will see and believe that we might not have it all together, but together we have it all!