10 Things You Should Know about the Convergence Conference
The Convergence Conference: the Passionate Pursuit of Word and Spirit, is now only a few weeks away. I hope and pray you will give serious consideration to joining us here in Oklahoma City, October 5-7. Here are ten things you should know about the conference.
(1) The urgent need of the church in the twenty-first century is followers of Jesus who are committed to the centrality and functional authority of the Bible, on the one hand, and effective, Christ-exalting operation of all spiritual gifts on the other; people who are gospel-centered and intolerant of manipulative excess and self-serving fanaticism, on the one hand, and delight in speaking in tongues, praying for the sick, and prophesying to the edification, encouragement, and consolation of other believers, on the other.
We’re talking about Christians who are intellectually exhilarated by complex biblical truths yet unafraid to give public expression to deep emotional delight and heart-felt affection for Jesus; theologically sophisticated followers of Christ who are hungry for the revelatory gifts of the Spirit while always subject to the final authority of the written text of Scripture.
Many would say that this is impossible. We beg to differ. Our aim in this conference is to challenge followers of Jesus to eagerly embrace both the functional authority of God’s Word and the full range of miraculous gifts of the Spirit, all to the glory of God in Christ. If you should choose to attend, a) you will be instructed in what it means to live and minister in both truth and power, b) you will be encouraged and equipped to pursue and practice all the gifts of the Spirit, c) and you will hear how, like Jesus, we can be “mighty in deed and word” (Lk. 24:19) without becoming either an out of control fanatic or a lifeless Pharisee.
(2) I will be one of the five plenary speakers. The focus of the first of my two messages will be on the power of the Holy Spirit that is operative in the life of the Christian.
In this message I will attempt to set the spiritual trajectory for everything that follows at Convergence. The power that indwells every born-again believer and energizes his/her life, ministry, as well as the exercise of spiritual gifts is nothing less than the supernatural energy that emanates from God’s being. What concerns us at Convergence is the encouraging truth that this transcendent divine energy quite literally fills and indwells the bodies and souls of every born-again believer. God does not call upon us to speculate about the nature of this power or to envision it merely as an idea. His desire is that we avail ourselves of it to partner with him in his purposes on the earth and that we cry out to him that he might intensify, expand, increase, and deepen the manifestation of this power through us in ever more demonstrative, tangible, Christ-exalting ways in our lives.
(3) My second message will take up the controversial spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. The title is: “The Beauty of Spiritual Language: What is Speaking in Tongues, Why did God create it, and How might we recover its use for the glory of Christ and the edification of his people?”
Speaking in tongues either frightens people or embarrasses them, or both. It seems and sounds so weird. What possible reason could God have had for making this gift available to his people? What purpose does it serve in our lives and how might we reclaim its use in a way that honors God’s Word, while avoiding the extremes and errors of those who would make it a measure of spirituality? If none other than the Apostle Paul could say, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (1 Cor. 14:18), who are we to so casually and critically dismiss this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit? So, if you’re curious about speaking in tongues and, better still, hungry to experience this spiritual gift, this session is for you.
(4) We are honored and blessed to have as one of our plenary speakers, Dr. Andrew Wilson. His first plenary session is titled, “A Charismatic Theology of Healing: What? When? Where?”
Physical healing is often hugely controversial. Many Christians believe it happens for anyone who has enough faith, while other Christians are skeptical that it happens at all. Things are not made easier by the fact that some who see the most healing often have the least robust theology of it, and those with the most robust theology of it often see the least healing. Convergence between Word and Spirit requires a practice of healing that is unashamedly charismatic, and unashamedly theological.
(5) Andrew Wilson’s second plenary session will focus on “A Charismatic Theology of Healing: Why? How? Who?”
In the first of these two sessions on healing we asked and answered the questions, What is healing, When does it happen, and Where does it take place? In this follow-up session we continue our exploration of a biblical and charismatic theology of healing by turning our attention to the questions, Why does God heal, How do we pursue healing, and Who is the healer?
Extended periods of time will be set aside at the conference specifically to pray for God to heal those who are sick or in some way physically impaired. We by no means make promises for what God may do, but we assuredly believe that James was correct when he said, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2), and again, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
(6) Matt Chandler, Senior Pastor of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, and President of the Acts 20 network will take up the subject of “The Word and Wonders: The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Gifts of the Spirit.”
Sadly, the evangelical church is often divided between, on the one hand, practicing charismatics who aren’t grounded in the sufficiency of God’s written Word and, on the other hand, functional cessationists who fail to take seriously what the all-sufficient Word says about the operation of spiritual gifts in the life of the church today. A close look at Hebrews 4:12-13 will enable us to bridge this gap and faithfully embrace the convergence of Word and Spirit.
(7) Dr. Jack Deere will be speaking at two plenary sessions. The first is titled, “The Privilege and Power of Hearing God”. Is it biblical to believe that God might still speak to us today? If so, in what ways might he do that? Is God’s voice only heard in and through the Bible? If he speaks personally to his people today, how might we recognize his voice? To whom does God speak? These and other related questions, as well as principles for the operation of the “revelatory” gifts of the Spirit will be explored in this session.
Jack’s second session is titled, “The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy and its Presence in the Church Today”. Jack will provide a biblically based description of the gift of prophecy and why we should make it a priority in our lives as well as in the life and ministry of the local church. Do we have good reason to believe that God still supplies his people with this gift? What are the practical guidelines that should govern how and when prophecy is exercised? What are some practical steps for building a biblically-based prophetic ministry in the local church? How should one give, evaluate, and respond appropriately to prophetic words? What kind or level of authority do prophetic words carry? These are a few of the questions to be answered in this session.
(8) We are also blessed to have Francis Chan with us. The title to his session is “Leading a Skeptical Church into Things of the Spirit: My Personal Journey”. Said Francis: “Over the past 25 years, I have gone from devout cessationist to “open but cautious” to “earnestly desiring” the spiritual gifts. There were key truths in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that I could no longer ignore, and the obedience has led to new life in our churches. Humility and clear Bible teaching have been key in leading fellow skeptics into an exciting new journey.”
(9) We will also hear from Josh Kouri, Senior Pastor of Frontline Church in Oklahoma City, who will address the question of how and in what ways the Holy Spirit is involved in the raising up and training of leaders in the body of Christ. We will be led in worship by Charlie Hall, Ryan Gikas, and Joel Limpic. Spoken Word poet David Bowden will also minister. Extensive time will also be devoted to focused intercession, prayer for healing, and prophetic ministry from the team at Bridgeway Church.
(10) So, for whom is the Convergence conference intended? It is for anyone who is passionate to see God work in life-changing ways in his people. Do you long to pray with success for the sick and see them healed? Are you persuaded that merely knowing the truth, while essential, isn’t enough, and that God has made himself known in Christ to actually transform lives and to deepen our intimacy with him? Do you desperately want to prophesy, as Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 14:1, because as he later says in 1 Corinthians 14:3 you want people to be edified, encouraged, and consoled? Or perhaps your prayer life isn’t what it should be and you wonder if the gift of tongues might be a blessing that would expand your commitment to intercede for yourself and for others. You’ve encountered people you believe were seriously demonized and felt helpless to bring them deliverance and freedom.
Exercising our God-given authority and power over the demonic realm is something you’ve always wanted but were afraid to approach (again, grievous and manipulative excesses on the part of some have caused you to recoil at the possibility that a humble and Christ-exalting ministry of deliverance from evil and unclean spirits might be a possibility in your church). You’ve sensed the presence of God during times of exalted worship and you long to experience his nearness and actually feel his love in new and life-changing ways. Your feeble efforts to evangelize lost souls have left you frustrated and you desire not only the incentive and energy to share your faith with greater clarity and zeal but also to see words of knowledge and physical healings accompany the proclamation of the gospel.
If that sounds like you, come join us October 5-7, in Oklahoma City, at the Criterion in Bricktown.