I think often about what lies ahead, and how our denomination can best prepare to continue to serve God and his people after my time is done and my contribution has been made. I know that many of you, particularly if you are an older member in an aging congregation, are thinking about this too.
I believe that GCI has a future! I don’t know all the details, but I see encouraging signs. We are a worldwide church. Some of our congregations are growing rapidly — bursting with youth and energy. In others, growth is harder to come by, but members are growing in love and service. In many congregations, youth are actively and creatively serving. Many are reaching out in mission at home and around the world. Through these activities, grounded in our growing understanding of Trinitarian theology, I believe God is showing us how we are to take the gospel to the world of the 21st century in compelling and powerful ways.
Looking back, especially over the last 15 years during which I have been privileged to serve as GCI’s president and pastor general, I realize that I cannot claim credit for what has happened. I feel sometimes that I have been swept along by events that I did not plan, and could not have anticipated. Changing technology has meant we do our work in a totally different way than even ten years ago. Many of the people who report to me hardly ever visit our home office, yet we seem to be in closer contact than ever before.
Our church has grown in parts of the world where we had done nothing to lay the groundwork. We have welcomed dozens of new congregations in the African nation of Mozambique. We had not made a specific effort to reach them—they just “showed up on our doorstep.” Our developing understanding of Trinitarian theology has brought us into contact with many leaders and theologians outside of our denomination. Many have become close friends. The world of Christianity is going through some important changes. I pray that we will play a useful role in this exciting journey of discovery.
There are many reasons to be encouraged. Looking back, I can see that the Holy Spirit has been leading us. I am thankful to have been a part of it and look forward to where God will lead us in the years ahead. We should make plans for this journey, though experience tells us that we must be ready for the unexpected. How do we stay ready? Like members of a fire department, we must have in place good equipment, and we must be trained — ready to do what needs to be done. As Paul wrote to Timothy, we must be ready “in season and out of season.”
God has much for us to do in his service. I am thankful to have a part along with all of you. Let’s continue to work together, submitting in faith to God as we join with Jesus in what he will be doing through the Holy Spirit to take the good news of salvation to a world that desperately needs it.
Joseph Tkach, 2015