Renewal, Recommitment and Realignment
A new year brings new challenges and opportunities. Elim’s General Superintendent Chris Cartwright shares his thoughts on 2019 and the plans being made for the Movement.
What is your prayer for Elim?
I believe 2019 is to be a significant year for Elim of renewal, recommitment and realignment. My prayer is that we would come afresh to God as individuals, leaders, local churches and as a whole Movement with an openness of heart and a spirit of faith. I believe God wants to meet with us powerfully and personally and renew us for the season ahead.
Personal renewal is the essential ingredient for any spiritual advance. God doesn’t give us dreams and visions, plans and strategies without also promising to fill us and equip us with his presence and power.
So, I expect 2019 to be a year where we see God renewing our hearts, refreshing our spirits and reigniting our passion for him and for his kingdom.
Secondly, I believe out of that renewal will come a significant recommitment to serve him with all that we are and all that we have. Recommitment to the good news of the gospel, to reaching the lost and our communities, out of total dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us.
Thirdly, a realignment of our leaders, churches, ministries and resources in order to be more effective in our shared calling and mission. This will not be at the expense of local vision and ministry, but building on it as we find increasing focus and fruitfulness in moving together to advance the kingdom of God through the Elim Movement.
What were your personal highlights of 2018 and how can we build on them for this year?
A number of highlights stand out for me in 2018. There is a growing unity among our leaders and churches, where leaders and churches are positioning themselves together in fresh initiatives for outreach, mission and leadership development. Our Leaders Summit in Harrogate was a highlight – as we saw over 1,700 people gather, representing hundreds of churches. I was moved to see close to 200 young leaders go through the Young Leaders Track and evidence faith for a fresh generation.
Also, our first ever Children’s Ministry Track at the Summit drew children’s workers together for training and inspiration. Following the Summit, our first ever Elim Global Leaders Summit demonstrated that Elim is now a growing worldwide family with so many diverse gifts and ministries coming together to shape ministry and mission to every nation, culture and people group.
All these demonstrate that there is evidence of the grace of God among us and that his plan for Elim is bigger than any one of us can fully see or imagine.
How is your family coping with your busy role?
Annie and I are conscious of a season of change. In 2018 our youngest, Charlotte, left home for university and our elder daughter, Alexandra, got married. So, it’s a time when we are adjusting to new rhythms and routines at home.
Like many who go through such things, however much we anticipate the changes, you still have to walk through them personally.
We are aware this brings us into a new season in our marriage and we are committed to deepening our relationship over the coming years. We are also excited for what is ahead for our grown-up children and praying into their life adventure with God.
Even recently, we have been reminded that however busy we are during the year, we benefit so much from even brief times together with family and close friends where we can be intentional about resting together and investing in one another.
What do you believe the biggest challenges facing the UK Church are?
The UK is in the midst of huge social and cultural changes, which bring great challenges for the Church and the sharing of the gospel. Issues such as accelerating secularisation, political change and instability, as well as crises in issues of community and identity all provide not only challenge but an opportunity for us to share the reality of God’s love and purpose for all people.
Rather than being silent bystanders or critical and cultural commentators, we will need to respond with servant-hearted love and compassion and with a truly authentic message and example of hope.
Do you think Brexit will affect the Church?
Brexit understandably looms large in Britain right now. It seems to dominate so much of our national conversation. God will still be on the throne whatever the Brexit ‘deal’ that is finally brokered. It is vitally important that we are able to stay focused on eternal issues in the light of changing political realities.
The Church is called to love all people, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or culture, and that means seeking God’s heart for the diverse people within our communities as well as beyond our borders.
I believe we need to pray for our nation consistently, pray for those who lead us and serve in public service. We also need to be ‘peacemakers’ in our wider society.
In times of political change and upheaval, God has a way of reaffirming his eternal purpose for ‘people’ over abstract notions of politics or government.
The Church of Christ is called to be nimble, flexible, on the front foot and looking for every opportunity, even in challenging times, to bring the kingdom of God into the ‘times’ and ‘seasons’ they encounter.
I am personally seeing Brexit as an opportunity to make sure my ‘perspective’ on the future is rooted in God’s revealed Word and plans for the nations rather than the immediate presenting headlines from Westminster or Brussels.
The Church will need to keep on loving people, serving communities, looking for ways to stand in unity with our brothers and sisters in other nations and partner together to reach the less reached nations of the world with the gospel.
What are Elim’s big plans for 2019?
Over the last year we have identified our four priorities as a Movement to be Making Disciples, Developing Leaders, Growing Churches and Reaching Nations.
In 2019, we are looking to see these priorities embedded in every part of the Elim Movement from local churches to national ministries.
One example would be Elim Global. We will be gathering our Elim Global national Movement and ministries in four regional conferences in The Philippines, Brazil, Kenya and France, plus a Centenary Conference in India to mark 100 years since the ‘sending’ of the first Elim Missionary, Dollie Phillips. So, from our National Leaders Prayer events in January through the Elim Leaders Summit in May and into the rest of the year we will be using every opportunity to draw Elim together for our Vision 20/20 launch into a fresh missional strategy for the decade to come.
What about the challenges facing the Movement in 2019?
The fact is Elim cannot simply do ‘business as usual’. We have to reconnect with the core of the Christian gospel. Our greatest challenge will be to have the courage and commitment to break out of the regular rhythms and patterns of how we do church and ministry in order to be more outreach focused.
We are seeing some wonderful examples of God at work in the lives of people and in communities all over the nation.
These good news stories of people coming to faith, finding love and purpose in community with others and turning that loose in partnering together to reach their towns and cities for Christ can give fresh vision and hope to us all.
In the following video, Chris shares a short new year message for the Elim Family. This was shown in Elim churches on Sunday 6 January 2019.