Here are some thoughts that I have had while specifically praying last week about "The Gathering". I believe these thoughts to be response to prayer about my role in "The Gathering", and Pembroke in general. I've been wrestling for a while about the call of church planting and what my role in the planting of future churches might be.
I have had Pembroke, specifically the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, on my heart for more than 2 years now. The following is the result (at least currently) of those 2 years of thoughts, prayers, musings, speeches, messages and leadings.
For the purpose of clarity let me say that I believe the local church to be God's vehicle to rescue an unregenerate world. The sad truth about that is that most local bodies are not prepared to reach into their societies and their non-christian cultures for the purpose of the gospel. In most churches you'll see that, unless something drastic happens, most of their membership will pass in the next 20 years leaving a huge void in the area of local church.
I believe that the response to this growing void in the area of evangelism and the need for evangelistic local churches is the planting of what I'll call, "New Breed Churches" (which I will now refer to as NBC's). The NBC's have decided that they will be faithful to do whatever is necessary, short of sin, to reach INTO their communities with the gospel. An "NBC" understands that the culture of their church does matter and that their methods MUST differ from those of past generations while being careful that their message remains consistent with biblical doctrine and standards. An NBC understands that the message NEVER changes, although the method must from generation to generation for the perpetuation of the gospel.
The Role of the Gathering in relation to UNCP / Pembroke
I believe that "The Gathering" is a forerunner to "the Harvest" in our region:
- A preparer of spiritual soil for the future harvest
- A foundation builder for the future church
- A new paradigm/teacher, showing a new way to reach people
A preparer of spiritual soil for the future harvest
Jesus often used farming analogies to speak relevantly to those He was communicating with. To stay with His thoughts, I see "The Gathering" in these terms. One of the great works that will happen is that "The Gathering" will begin to prepare soil not necessarily ready for harvest in an unreached people group/generation. This generation, statistically, is a "spiritual" generation. The problem is that their spirituality is based on feelings and bad theology. Many want to know God, as will always be the case, but have decided to seek Him "their own way". Statistics also show that their problems are with "the church" and the fact that we are more known by what we are against than what we are for. We pray that God will use "the Gathering" to prepare the hearts of those we wish to rescue for the promised harvest of the Lord.
A Foundation Builder for the future church
"The Gathering" is not a church. "The Gathering" will not be a church. I believe that God may use it to build a foundation for a future NBC (prayerfully many), a church that can reach out to those that most churches are not prepared to reach out to.