National Church Leaders say YES!
Orlando, Fla. Ministry leaders from across the whole Church—Evangelical, Protestant, Greek Orthodox and Catholic—gathered here from Nov. 7-9 for the Uncover Summit, sponsored by the Forum of Bible Agencies-North America.
The conference was indeed a summit—a mountaintop experience in which attendees dedicated themselves to Uncover the Word,™ a national movement of people who are committing themselves to the daily practice of Scripture engagement.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, kicked off the conference with an energetic speech that riveted attendees.
“We live in times of great instability and flux,” he said. “We've heard that Christianity in America will not survive in any viable or sustainable manner. But I beg to differ. Even though the housing markets crumble and the stock market crashes, the Church of Jesus Christ is still alive and well.
“Uncover the Word will affirm biblical orthodoxy and political discourse. It is a prophetic movement driven by the cross. I'm convinced the best is yet to come.”
Rev. Chris Webb, president of Renovare USA, led daily devotions that drove home the centrality of God's Word in all creation and in all time. These devotions—beautiful, majestic and powerful—emphasized that attendees need to be rooted in the Word themselves before they can serve others.
Rev. Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J., executive director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, discussed Roman Catholic perspectives on Bible engagement for the whole church.
Didactic sessions featured the latest on digital tools, as well as research on Bible engagement among American adults and college students.
Dr. Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, delivered a thought-provoking presentation on how to imbue the younger generation with “sticky faith”—her term for faith that will carry with them through their college years.
Dr. Powell's research shows that many Christian teens are ill equipped to withstand the pressures of college life. Students drink more alcohol and have more sex in college, her findings show. This is no surprise, Dr. Powell said, but the biggest increase occurred among Christian youth who were teetotalers and virgins in high school.
Although there's no formula for building sticky faith with the younger generation, Dr. Powell said using the Gospel as “sin management” doesn't work. “That kind of Gospel is all about external behaviors, not internal transformation.”
Among other conference highlights, Jim Mellado, president of Willow Creek Association; and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, presented on the urgent need for Bible engagement in our country. Each challenged attendees to commit to uncover the Word in their own congregations.
In a special ceremony, participants signed the Uncover the Word Commitment.
In doing so, they pledged to:
1. Declare their confidence in the God's living and active Word.
2. Renew their personal daily encounter with God in Scripture
3. Restore the Bible to a place of centrality
4. Dedicate themselves to create compelling invitations to Scripture engagement.
Attendees needed little convincing. “This movement represents the whole Church,” said Gary Benedict, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. “For too long, we've been silos. We need to work together as one Church.
“Count me in.”
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