Posts Tagged 'NACCC'

We Are Unleashed!

We Are Unleashed! Sermon Audio Here

Acts 1:8

Last weekend was the 64th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

2018 NACCC Annual Meeting Highlights:

Council Reports

  • Approved recommendation of 3 new churches
  • Consolidated two offices into one
  • Approved 2018-19 budget
  • Our churches donated $116,000 to churches who faced disaster needs around the world
  • Started regional convocations around the country – Midwest and Northeast
  • Developing a lay ministry training program – distance learning with mentors and cohort
  • Adopted new mission statement: “To nurture fellowship among Congregational Christian Churches and support ministries of the local church in its community and to the world, all in the name of Christ” AND vision statement for the NACCC: “Vital and healthy Congregational churches, sharing the love of Jesus the Christ”

Bible Lectures by Terry Lindvall: M.Div from Fuller; doctorate thesis on CS Lewis. Ordained in Congregational Church in 1973. President of Regent University. Fellow at William and Mary. Author.

Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth”

• Witness is a noun and verb
• What is a good witness – from a lawyer

  • Remember what was seen
  • Each witness has their own style and sight
  • Power of witness is in the details – what happens when we see and hear
  • Witness answers truthfully and without guile or agenda

• Three areas of witness in Scripture

  • Torah and Law as first witness
    o Jews set up stones along the way as a witness for their return.
    => Ex: Finding Dory – shells lead back to home. All of us are ‘like living stones’
  • Creation Itself as second witness
    o The heavens declare the glory of God – Psalm 96 –
  • Witness of the saints
    o People in Scripture were passionate livers of God’s grace. We are surrounded by this hall of witnesses – they are eccentric, sort of crazy, and strange.

Three Take-aways:

  1. we recognize we are witnesses of God’s love. Deuteronomy 6.
  2. we recognize God’s glory in creation and bear witness
  3. we learn to witness the odd and flawed characters of God’s people.
  • How do you witness of Jesus?
  • How do we bring forth Christ?

NACCC – more like a potluck than a denomination

Celebrate NACCC Omaha banner As I write this, Jami and I have just returned from the 60th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. Doesn’t that long name sound like a mouthful? What I found most interesting out of the entire meeting is not the content of the business meetings, but the fellowship.A few weeks ago, I was trying to describe what our National Association was like. It’s technically a denomination (we have a home office in Oak Creek, Wisconsin), but we don’t act like a denomination. We don’t have a college – we ask ministers to take classes in Congregational history and polity.

We don’t have a retirement plan for our ministers – ministers are invited to enroll in the American Baptist retirement fund, the MMBB.

We don’t have our own missionaries – we find others who are doing God’s work, and support them there. We’re a lot more like a National Potluck than a denomination.

And here’s the thing: potlucks only work if everyone contributes. Have you ever been to a potluck where no one brought anything to eat, and maybe just a few cans of soda? I have (ahem, 25 years of youth ministry), and it’s a dismal sight… especially for those who were planning on actually eating something of substance. But if no one is willing to contribute, then the potluck looks pretty bare.

I am so thankful to you all for allowing Jami and I to contribute to the National Association; it definitely recharges my spiritual batteries to hear excellent Bible teaching, to learn about Congregational history, to spend time encouraging others and being encouraged from all over the country. Please look forward with me to the next Pacific Northwest meeting which will be in Anchorage, Alaska from April 30-May 2, 2015 (we’re planning on having some kind of electronic two-way video connection like we did with Ingle Chapel), and for the 61st Annual Meeting of the National Association in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jami and I are planning on driving down, and we’d love to have a convoy!

One of our strengths is that we do not all believe exactly the same thing; there is variety in the NACCC… just like a good potluck should have. As the Word says, in Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Keep Following Jesus,
Pastor Ed

Thoughts on the NACCC

This is a portion of a letter that I wrote to another church; they are considering becoming a part of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, the group to which my congregation belongs. I thought that some of my readers might enjoy these thoughts about the NA…
To give you a bit of background on my personal journey: I wasn’t raised with any kind of faith, became a follower of Jesus when I was 17, and got involved with various different groups of Christians, each contributing something to my development as a follower of Christ.
 
1) the Christian /Church of Christ emphasized living out their faith in response to the Word. 
2) the Foursquare church emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit. 
3) the Swedish Baptist church taught me to work through the text of Scripture line-by-line.
4) the Evangelical Free church taught me the importance of family in faith formation.
5) the Church of God, Anderson taught me the perils of power as a substitute for obedience.
6) the Presbyterian church showed me that a purposeful, thoughtful Christian life was possible.
7) the NACCC brought me full circle, reinforcing Jesus as the Head of the Church.
 
What I’ve learned about the NACCC is that the use of power and authority isn’t a preferred method to be the people of God. 
 
Our congregation was originally a German Congregational church (that denomination used to be around about 100 years ago), and they placed great emphasis on personal piety, communal experience of faith, and practical service to Christ. Then, in the 1950’s when the UCC was started, we joined that group. However, we discovered that over time, the UCC placed more and more emphasis on hierarchical structure, and the controls that go with it (especially in regards to what was considered to be “acceptable theology”). That was not at all who we are as a church; and so, our congregation left the UCC in 2003.
 
The NACCC is an association of fellowship, not an organization of control. We have churches in our national fellowship who are far more theologically liberal than we are… and we have churches that are much more conservative. Where we stand on various issues is *not* the determining factor of our organization. We come together to fellowship with one another as we each follow Christ as the Head of the church. There is no denominational control, no edicts from on high, no memos from the Central Office that tell us what we must do, or how we must do it.
 
This allows our little congregation to focus on its mission of following Jesus the best way it knows how, and we still can get together with other churches who are doing the same thing if not in the same way.
 
Personally, I consider it a strength when I’m able to be in a room with 100 other ministers, knowing full well that I’d probably disagree with them on various points of doctrine– but still having sweet fellowship because we recognize the Lord is in our midst, and it is the Spirit which allows us to experience the bond of unity while living with methods of diversity.
 
To close — I’m a BIG fan of the NACCC. It’s not restrictive on in matters of theology (we don’t make our ministers sign theological creeds like the CCCC), and it’s not dictative on matters of social conscience (like the “still speaking” campaign of the UCC). At the risk of sounding like a fairy tale, it’s “just right”.
 
Grace and peace to you as you seek to follow the Lord’s leading!
 
Keep Following Jesus,
Ed

Pastor Ed Backell

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