I grew up in a family of Free Methodist missionaries to northern Mexico. My parents were tentmaker missionaries, so we never had to go back for fundraising and consequently didn’t go back much at all — except to visit family. We never made the rounds of annual or general conferences like most missionaries, so when I had the chance to go to General Conference 2015, it was my first General Conference.
I’ve been to many church conferences, of course, but GC15 was something wholly different. The event’s magnitude and scope were incredible. I have never felt connected to the church around the world like I did there.
I get excited thinking about going back to Orlando, Florida, next summer for General Conference 2019 and hearing all the new ways that God is moving, all the new churches being planted, and all the lives being changed.
Because this event is something different! It’s resourcing and connecting. It’s worship and blessing. It’s hope and encouragement. It is all of those things and something more.
We often think of church within the context of our local church. We become focused on the immediate needs of our community and the busyness of our own planning, and we forget that we are connected to something bigger. We are citizens of a greater kingdom, called to be priests and to tell the story of what Jesus has done in our lives.
General Conference makes that kingdom tangible. It brings the full force and impact of the work we do for the kingdom to bear on a room full of people committed to see that kingdom grow.
There are so many things to point to from GC15 that aren’t just fond memories, but enduring encouragement and challenge. One talk from Indianapolis First Free Methodist Church Lead Pastor J.D. Van Valin stands out for me and calls me regularly to push in to people’s lives, despite our perceived differences or barriers.
I recently talked to a friend who recalled the awe of seeing about half of a room of 2,000 people respond to an altar call during GC15. General Conference provides an opportunity to acknowledge and take hold of the truth that our work, our local church and even our lives thread in to the eternal and a tapestry of restoration, beauty and hope.
So I encourage you to register for General Conference 2019 next summer (July 16–19) at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Sign up for the National Prayer Summit on July 15. Go on a mission trip to Miami, the Dominican Republic, Haiti or Togo.
Visit gc19.org to get connected to updates and check out all the amazing things that will take place.