A Prayer for the Global Church

My time at the Global:Church Forum (read the notes) two weeks ago was one of the best ministry events I’ve experienced. The worship was rich. The theology was deep. Good friendships were formed. And the ecumenical unity was beautiful.

It is not easy to pragmatically explore how the global Church can better work together like a body’s cells and parts do in unison. However, the forum’s conversations were fruitful steps in the right direction. But I also realize we must protect this momentum. We must keep our hearts vulnerable to each other. And we must guard against lapsing back into our old habits and ways of doing things. We cannot do this in our own strength. We need God. And we need to stay steadfast in prayer.

This is the prayer I pray for us all:

Lord, help us for we cannot do this without you. You are a good God who graciously and generously invites us to take part in Your plan. May your kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us what we need, not what we think we need. May we be responsible with what you give us. When we have more than enough, may we generously share it with others as you have generously given to us.

Purge from us the comforts that we have made idols. Free us from any clutter of possessions, mindsets, sins, and systems that weigh us down and slow us from running the race well.

May we become more like Christ. May we pray like a poor man. Teach us to have a heart like David, obedience like Noah, and courage like Rahab.

Humble us – for mankind is too weak and proud to discover meekness without Your help. Remove far from us jealousy and selfish ambition – for it is divisive. Teach us to be patient with each other, kind, and selfless servants. Break us where we need to be broken and heal us where we hurt. You are the Potter, and we yearn to be your clay.

May we not forget the stories of Your greatness in our own lives or the legends of Your goodness from the far corners of the earth. They produce hope that illuminate the dark times and sweeten the bitter.

Give us ears to hear. May we first hear your Word because it is the fuel of our faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please You. May we hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit and be bold enough to obey it. We repent for talking when we should be listening. And we repent for remaining silent, when we should be a voice of truth and justice.

Grant us wisdom to know how to work with each other as co-equals and as a healthy and whole body. May the Body of Christ be as graceful as our own bodies are – made in Your image as a miraculous symphony with millions of complexities. And grant us grace for each other when we fall short. May the Holy Spirit fill the voids where we lack. May You get all the glory.

Above all else, may we reflect God’s love to everyone. For without it, our work is futile.

May all we do bring glory to Your mighty name.

And it is in the precious, life saving name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

In the weeks to come, I urge you to be thinking about how your role within the Body of Christ can work interdependently with the other equally important parts – locally and internationally.

Bob Doll on the Global Economy and the Church

At the Global:Church Forum, Bob Doll, formerly of BlackRock, discussed the global economy and the Church.

Key demographics and economic trends.

As an investor we look at the world primarily divided by developed markets (developed countries), emerging markets (will eventually be developed), and frontier markets (an unknown future where some will be successful and others will disappear).

When we look back 10 years from now, we will see emerging markets making significant progress with important assists by the US.

Cell phone costs have dramatically dropped, which has given mobile access to lower economic areas.

A country’s change is population is the most significant factor on its economic growth. China’s 1 birth policy will slow their economy down. The US has an advantage of having a higher birthrate than the rest of the developed world. US immigration rate is also the highest globally, and those that come to the US tend to be young and very productive. In a decade or two, every country in Europe will be declining.

By 2050, half of the world’s Christianity will live is Africa and Asia. There is little relationship to a country’s rate of growth and its commitment to religion. But there is a big link between a country’s income growth and their religious engagement. Materialism crowds out God.

More Presbyterians were in church last Sunday in Ghana than in Scotland. More Roman Catholics worship in the Philippines than in any country of Europe including Italy.

Half of Christian leaders that have ever lived are alive today.

As representatives of the global Church we must think careful before saying what Christians now believe.

In the global South, churches are appealing to different cultures. They do quite well reaching migrants to cities. By 2025, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities; it will be two-thirds by 2050.

Impact of these trends on the church and its growth.

Who is my neighbor?

We live in an era where travel is easier and international communication is greater than any previous era.


Only about 3% of the world’s population immigrates on a given year. Yet that small percentage can sometimes affect a specific community by at least 15%. Most economists agree that immigrants are positive to a country’s economy, but people don’t like it when their jobs are taken.

Is there a Christian view of immigration? Leviticus 19 says the stranger among you should be treated well. We are told to love our neighbor not love our neighbors born in our country.

Foreign aid?

Globalization brings the suffering of the world more directly to our attention. One billion people today live on less than $1 per day. Outside of China, most of the world has not been able to alleviate poverty well.

The absence of coordination among NGOs (nonprofits) has created a great waste of resources.

Perspectives on Global Partnership

At the Global:Church Forum, a panel discussion shared the global partnership experiences of Ajith Fernando of Youth for Christ (Sri Lanka), Menchit Wong of Compassion International (Philippines), Oscar Murui of Nairobi Chapel (Kenya), Bishop Jospeh Garang Atem of The Episcopal Church of Sudan (South Sudan), and John Huffman of Christianity Today (USA).

What have you learned at the Global: Church Forum?

Huffman: Those of us who are givers need to be receivers and to listen for a season before talking. In fact, Westerners may be the receivers in the years ahead which will be tough.

Wong: We need to stop and reflect.

Muriu: There is a need for the Church to explore southern hemisphere to southern hemisphere partnerships.

How can leadership boards be better?

Murui: Bring the reformers in. Bring in fresh eyes that have no vested interest and can speak with honesty.

Huffman: You have to be willing to give up power in order to have global diversity. At board levels, this is a very delicate issue.

How do you maintain balance without creating power struggles?

Fernando: Come in with the perspective that God’s sovereignty is greater than us. Do not give up the idea that agreement is possible. Always punctuate meetings of conflict with prayer because it is difficult to be mean when influenced by prayer.

Atem: Give the Holy Spirit room to do His work.

Wong: Don’t call it a retreat when it is really a business meeting. We had to repent and humble ourselves before others and God. And as we set aside the business agenda and reflected spiritually, it was a time of great growth. When we pay attention to the Holy Spirit and less of ourselves, good things happen.

In some ministries there is an unspoken value of perpetuity equals success. But sometimes there are times that the work is done. How do you discern that? What are barriers to realizing it?

Huffman: If times change and a ministry model is no longer successful, you need to close it.

Fernando: What does our nation need? Is our group doing something that the nation needs? Sometimes you need to stop things. Other times you just need radical shifts.

Murui: Maybe we need to learn as Christians to work a timeline into the things we create. Without an end point, some ministries live on to drain Kingdom resources. If I was the Devil, I’d try to keep organizations alive.

Why are the majority of black Americans not investing in Africa as missionaries?

Murui: The black American Church has been asleep to missions because it is so caught up within its needs within the US culture – dysfunctional families, incarceration rates, etc. But we are beginning to see the black American Church wake up and start coming as missionaries. When we see a white come to Africa, there is some sense of suspension because of our history of colonialism. But when a black American visits, they have high credibility because Africa looks up to their music and sports athletes.

Will donors in the West start mandating organizations to start working together for strategic partnership? And should they?

Fernando: It is necessary for there to be chemistry, and you cannot mandate chemistry. I also think there is a move of the Spirit that will connect people together.

Huffman: Mainline denominations did use to mandate working together, but then they declined. What is happening now is a new paradigm of working together. The Holy Spirit is mandating us, but I don’t think it will be one-size-fits-all.

Wong: The work to be done is so big that we must have strategic partnerships, so we at least must be working towards them.

How do we help the Northern Church free itself from isolated independence and better engage in God’s mission?

Huffman: Friendship is the best way to engage and prevent isolation. These relationships are lasting. Partnership at its best comes from friendship. Not all partnerships have the luxury of 50 years of relationship first. Sometimes you have to move in fast, but always work for friendship.

Murui: There seems to be a romanticism for the West to go into extreme poverty and engage it while bypassing key churches around that poverty that would be a great help. Work with significant local organizations and treat them as equals. The Africa and India of today have changed from 50 years ago.

Wong: It is when God humbles us that we can truly experience great things. When an organization is proud of its vision, it is easy to miss the strengths of other groups. Invite other organizations into your gatherings so that you can appreciate their work. When you travel, remove your ideas and act as family. Mentioning your title can create barriers. Pray together.

Atem: Come and see, and you will know what to do.