The 2020 Vision Conference partners with Northern Seminary

By: Northern Seminary

The year 2020 began with great hopes for seeing life and ministry with a clarity that would result in health, growth, and effectiveness. Then the dark clouds of COVID-19 began to gather over our nation and the world. During the same time, the racism our nation has lived with for centuries began to assert itself, but this time it was shown on national television beginning with the murder of Ahmaud Arbury. Then, in March, the thunder rolled, lightning flashed, clouds burst, and the rain of the coronavirus started falling, and people started dying. Governors and Mayors began issuing “Stay Home” orders; businesses, churches, and schools closed their doors; professional sports canceled their seasons; most planned large group gatherings were canceled for the year. To make matters worse, we watched the excessive force of brutal policemen take away the breath of George Floyd. Following his death there have been marches for social justice, conversations about racism, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. America is in crisis.

The 2020 Vision Conference was one of the events that canceled its in-person gathering in Dallas, Texas, and opted to launch a virtual conference in partnership with Northern Seminary. It was important for these two institutions to bring both biblical and theological clarity to these times of cloudy, foggy, and blurred vision. The conference featured four main webinars and a course on the platform. The first webinar was a panel discussion on “Ministry in a Pandemic.” One of the most impactful things that came from that discussion was a “Sidewalk Sunday School” conducted on Saturdays. Churches that try this should already have the reputation of being a good neighbor in their neighborhood.

The second webinar, directed to emerging leaders, addressed “Culture, COVID-19, and Christ.” The discussion was robust and engaging. There were at least three impactful perspectives coming from that conversation first, “Christ is in culture…”; second, “Young people(emerging leaders) being connected to their faith and rooted in their personal relationship with Christ is essential for serving with Christ in culture”; and finally “Cultivating loving concern for one’s community that inspires actions that result in the transformation of the community.” This webinar was rich and rewarding.

The third webinar was a conversation about “Visionary Strategic Pastoral Leadership.” This webinar featured Freddie Haynes in a conversation about Juneteenth and what it means to Blacks and to America. The conversation reminded viewers and listeners that, as Pastor Ralph West expressed, “the stewardship of time is a moral issue.” While God redeems time, we must also honor it, use it wisely, and try never to waste it. Creating a congregational culture of growth and effectiveness is largely determined by what individual and group behaviors churches “celebrate and tolerate,” said Mark Moore. Whatever is celebrated and tolerated will be repeated.

Despite format changes and challenges, Vision Conference 2020 was a success. We are thankful for the leaders who gave their time and wisdom and to the participants who showed up eager to learn and share. We look forward to Vision Conference 2021 where hopefully, we are able to gather in person.

July 1, 2020

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