Dear Friends,

I was in Jerusalem June 14-23rd to be a part of the Global Anglican Futures Gathering (GAFCON). Here are some of my reflections:

We live in a time when people are skeptical about institutions in general and organized religion in particular. I also know that for many Christians in Canada today they look for a good local church, not a church of a particular denomination. In light of this my comments today will probably seem odd, but one of the many things I appreciated about being at GAFCON in Jerusalem is that it helped me experience the New Testament depth and breadth of being part of a church.

In the bible, Gods gospel is set forth. The gospel is good news. It is the news of what God has provided so that human beings can be made right with Him. It is the news of who Jesus is [God’s Son, the promised Messiah, and the Saviour] and what He accomplished for us in His perfect life and sin-bearing death. It is the news that God has provided the way to be made right with Him. He does this for us out of love and grace, and we can only receive His saving act by faith alone – we do not achieve it – we can only humbly receive it. The Gospel has implications. If there are no implications, then what you have heard is not the Gospel. The implications of the Gospel are not the Gospel. One implication of the Gospel is that it creates a movement of Gospel proclamation to the ends of the earth and to every people group. Another implication of the Gospel being proclaimed and received is that we are gathered into God’s church. In other words, the Gospel creates a Gospel movement with institutional implications.

So we become members of a local church. For many people today, to discuss the Gospel and the church begins and ends with discussing what a local, visible church is to be like. But there is more to the Gospel and the church then talking about the local visible church. When you read Romans 16, you see Paul referring to several local churches in Rome, but there is more. Many of the New Testament Epistles begin by addressing “the church” in a region – like Rome or Corinth. To the New Testament, the church is more than just a local congregation. It is also all of the churches in a region. But there is more. When Jesus says (in Matthew 16:18) that “… I will build my church…” He is obviously referring to more than the local church, and more than the church in a region. He is talking of something that reaches all around the world and something that extends forward in time or back in time from our current perspective.

GAFCON was intentionally in Jerusalem. It helps communicate that the Lord began building His church there 2000 years earlier. We gathered together, each person from a local church [in my case Messiah], from a regional church [in my case ANiC] and we came from hundreds of people groups and over 50 nations. The Anglican Church is planet wide. We worshiped and prayed around the opening of God’s word, first expositionally by going through the last chapters of Luke and then systematically by thinking about God’s world, God’s Gospel, God’s church and God’s strategy. So one of the things I love about the Anglican Way, is that it takes seriously the importance of the depth and breadth of the church.

George