By the numbers, the 2018 GACX Global Forum was an incredible success. A total of 226 participants representing over 100 different organizations — the largest ever GACX forum. Each of these three days (Oct 9-11) on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains were filled with conversations, prayer, and worship. But for all the preparation that went into this event, there’s something that is never certain — the extent to which God will move.
“In 41 years of ministry, it was one of the best ….maybe the best conference we ever attended,” shared Chery Osterloh from The Jesus Film. “The flow of the Spirit, the orchestration, the worship, the speakers, the vision, the divine appointments, the kairos moment! It was just amazing!”
When the GACX team selected “unfinished tapestry” as the 2018 theme, I don’t think any of us could have imagined the multitude of ways God would — figuratively and literally — weave this event together and so palpably unite the hearts of those who were there.
During the Tuesday evening opening session, Bekele Shanko, GACX President and Chairman, pointed to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18, “…I will build my church.” Not many churches, but one Church. This is this Spirit of unity that was so apparent during this year’s forum. Every local community that follows Jesus, every missionary who makes disciples of Jesus, every organization which sends or equips — each is part of the whole.
“At this year’s GACX forum, we saw an incredible variety of leaders from different organizations, traditions, countries, and generations coming together for a single purpose,” adds Bekele. “It’s not about us — it’s about Jesus, His church, and the billions who will be reached through our unity and intentional collaboration”
A new feature at the 2018 Forum was seven different “strategy intensives” that met for several hours on Tuesday. About 75% of forum attendees participated in these interactive discussions around key issues related to GACX’s vision for church multiplication. One attendee noted that having these intensives at the start of the event laid a foundation for later discussions.
“What was so encouraging for me was not just the conversations I had with people,” shares Nate Vander Stelt, GACX Executive Vice President. “Rather, it was seeing the other conversations going on all around me. People talking about God’s work, sharing and strategizing and praying. This is what GACX is all about.”
The 2018 forum also featured numerous speakers and presentations intended to be both inspirational and practical. Nathan Shank with the International Mission Board spoke on the Four Fields model which describes the process of pursuing a church planting movement. The next day, Jeff Sundell from e3 Partners shared on the work of creating movements in cities.
Ray Alray from TWR Canada shared how their discipleship materials are being distributed in sometimes hard-to-reach places through ministry partners and new believers are being equipped to share the Gospel.
Gina Teodorescu shared how her work among the Roma (gypsies) in her country would not be taking place if it were not for the strength of other organizations giving her the confidence, resources, and materials to carry out her work.
Tamadji Moyalbaye with Global Church Movements was joined by Ramane Bimba, president of Assemblies of God in Chad, in sharing how a GACX-style event brought reconciliation and unity for Christian leaders and led to a new commitment to reach unengaged people.
From the numbers, the GACX forum might not seem that significant — certainly, there are far bigger gatherings both inside and beyond the Christian sphere. But there are two key differentiators clearly evident at this event. First, many people were coming to give rather than receive. Second, it’s about the shared vision — people who are putting Kingdom priorities ahead of everything else to see millions of new multiplying churches formed. And it’s this kind of commitment that God can use to accomplish incredible things.
The GACX forum offers a key touchpoint for an alliance of partners who are collaborating year-round to multiply disciples and form new churches. Each speaker, every conversation, every connection, every prayer — all of it is part of the glorious tapestry that God is weaving.