ACNA'09: Pastor Rick Warren addresses ACNA Assembly
By Michael Heidt
Special to Virtueonline
Acclaimed one of America's 'most influential people' and founder of the Saddleback Church, home to over 22,000 Christians, Pastor Rick Warren spoke to the ACNA Assembly on Tuesday morning before lunch. Those hoping for a blasting denunciation of the lesbigay agenda and the pansexual cohort might have been disappointed, because Pastor Warren's message was about the love of God, Christ, and building His Kingdom.
Beginning with a quote from Isaiah 43, "Fear not for I have redeemed you...I will give up others in exchange for you..." Warren reflected on the love of God in creation; He, we're reminded, "loves to create new things" and make all things new. The implicit moral being that God is doing just that with the new Province but only if its faithful to the Lord's unchanging Gospel in a constantly changing world. What does this faithfulness entail?
For Warren, this means, "Great commitment to the great commandment and the great commission" which will "build a great communion." The quality of this commitment is five fold, consisting in loving God in worship, loving our neighbor in service, making disciples in fellowship, maturing disciples in faith and sending the same out into the world in mission. In effect, we're to put the two great commandments into action and this depends on doing "what God's blessing." Three things help us to discern this:
Seeing things from the Father's perspective. Following the Son's pattern of ministry. Appropriating the Spirit's power in mission.
So, for God's blessing to accrue to ACNA, the Province must learn to see the world as God does and His vision is one of love, exemplified in the sacrificial death of His Son on the Cross (John 3:16). This, Pastor Warren told the Assembly, is the "dearest thing to the heart of God," the next dearest being that the message of Christ's atoning death is taken into the world. ACNA's task is to do just that, to proclaim the message of Christ crucified in love, so that the world will come into God's family, the Church. Nothing is more important than this apostolic, pastoral work, which for the founder of the Saddleback Church is of "eternal significance".
Still, whilst God "wants new babies" He also "chooses the warmest incubator He can find." These are created by following the pattern of the Son's ministry, which entails more than preaching, but is rather a process of discipleship beginning with invitation, "Come and see," maturing through the Cross, "Come and die," and ending in fully grown evangelistic discipleship that takes the Gospel of redemption into the world. Throughout this we must invoke the power of the Spirit, who will enable us to proclaim the Faith once delivered to all the peoples of the world until the end of time.
Pastor Warren concluded with a moving life and death appeal; in the next three hundred and sixty five days, he told the Assembly that fifty four million people will die, most of them without the hope offered only in Christ. "Is there," he asked, "going to be anyone in heaven because of you?" With that in mind, the Assembly was recalled to the first principles of the Pastor's address; ACNA is being called by God to show a "great commitment to the great commandment and the great commission to build a great communion." If the Province has the courage to rise to the challenge that will doubtless be the case.
ACNA'09: Pastor Rick Warren addresses Anglican Church in North America Assembly
June 23, 2009
BEDFORD, TX:-- Pastor Rick Warren addressed over 800 delegates and attendees at the Anglican Church in North America's inaugural assembly today. Urging the audience to focus on the mission of the Church and "winning one more for Jesus," the influential pastor encouraged and prayed for the new church and its representatives.
Welcomed by Archbishop-designate Bob Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America and Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Warren stepped on to the stage at St. Vincent's Cathedral Bedford, Texas, to a standing ovation. Warren spoke for the next 45 minutes, giving practical advice to the gathered clergy and church leaders on such matters as nurturing Christian maturity, sharing the faith and building healthy, growing churches.
Reminding the audience to stay focused on God and His love for people, Warren said, "Jesus didn't die to save America, he died to save Americans." The work of the church, he said, was to preach the Gospel and make disciples. "Don't ask God to bless what you are doing. Do what God is blessing."
Along that theme and in the context of the current lawsuits brought against many in the ACNA, Pastor Warren said, "The church has never been made up of buildings, it's made up of people," and "Christ did not die for property... You may lose the steeple, but you will not lose the people."
After the speech, which was punctuated by lengthy applause, Pastor Warren took questions from the audience.
The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes into a single church. Jurisdictions which have joined together to form the 28 dioceses and dioceses-in-formation of the Anglican Church in North America are: the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin; the Anglican Mission in the Americas; the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; the Anglican Network in Canada; the Anglican Coalition in Canada; the Reformed Episcopal Church; and the missionary initiatives of Kenya, Uganda, and South America's Southern Cone. Additionally, the American Anglican Council and Forward in Faith North America are founding organizations.
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