One of the questions that I often get asked, is “So where is this all going? This whole Emerging Nations thing, where is it all going?” And for mine, it’s a really good question! I mean if we’re going to be a truly global family of Churches, rather than a group of US Churches with international friends, then what exactly is this going to look like 5, 10, 20 years from now? Where is this all going in the long-term?
Well, during the last 18 months I’ve had a lot of time to think about this as the Director of Emerging Nations, and from all that I can see, albeit that there’s still a lot of things to work through and figure out, I believe that we’re headed somewhere like this...
If we’re going to be a truly global family of churches then I don’t think our polity will look like “all roads leading to the USA”. With so many different nations, cultures and languages that would be an impossible task. But instead I believe it will look like each country (or in some cases groups of countries) replicating what already exists in the USA, with each country having their own council of elders, leadership teams, regional assemblies of elders and so forth. Noted, when a country is young the council of elders and regional assemblies may be exactly the same thing, simply limited by the number of churches they have, but in time, multiple regions in all countries and contexts may well be possible. What started then in the USA, is replicated in other countries.
In addition, I believe countries may well look different to each other in terms of the intricacies of their Book of Church Order and their corresponding partnership agreements. Not all cultures are the same, not all cultures speak English, and not all cultures are even Western in their thinking. As we head into varying cultures and third world countries in particular I am more and more convinced that our BCO’s will look different, not by deliberate design, but simply because of the realities of differing cultures.
There’s a danger in this however that we could begin to lose our “togetherness”, something we hold so dear in Sovereign Grace, and so that’s where the ‘Council of Nations’ comes in. An elected council from the nations who will work for the peace, prosperity and health of our global family of churches. If we’re going to be a truly global family of churches, then we’re going to need to be in genuine gospel partnership with each other and accountable to one-another globally. I believe then some type of council and leadership, interconnecting us all, will be needed to make this a reality. Something like the ‘Council of Nations’.
I have no doubt then that there’s plenty of points and details to work through here. This is a very complex task that we’ll need to work through together. But in headline, this is where I believe God is taking us, and my prayer in it all is simply this, may it be for His glory alone.