In fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for unity among his followers, 13 pastors from diverse personal and church backgrounds rallied around two common denominators at a recent conference in the Rocky Mountain West: the finished work of the cross and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In the lead-up to the themed One Church conference, people experienced dreams and miracles they believe are answers to Jesus’ recorded prayer in the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel, where he expresses his desire that believers be one like God the Father and the son.
A practicing Buddhist woman who attended the church conference titled Convergence related dream-based intercession in which a “man” watched her turn side to side as she slept; with each turn she first said, “God, thank you for Jesus;” then, “Jesus, take away my sin.”
A 69-year old pastor, himself a former Buddhist, spoke at the three-day conference, sharing his testimony of coming to faith in Jesus Christ. After hearing J.R. Polhemus, pastor of The Rock church in Castle Rock, Colo., the Buddhist woman agreed to speak with him privately and shortly afterward turned to the Lord herself.
In a dream only nights before he spoke, an Assembly of God pastor who preached two sermons at the annual conference in Loveland, Colo. believes the Lord spoke to him about the kind of unity that brings revival to the church and society at large.
“I saw these fences and these borders in parts of Loveland, Fort Collins and the surrounding areas (of Colorado), representing the territories of all these little churches and their walls,” says Dary Northrop, pastor of Timberline Church, an Assembly of God congregation.
“In my dream, the walls and fences fell over and I could see an open singular area where the Body of Christ was in operation,” says Northrop, whose church in Fort Collins is supporting the conversion of a strip bar into a sanctuary called The Genesis Project. It will be led by a former Assembly of God pastor, Rob Cowles, when it opens in Fort Collins mid-2014.
Miracles of provision and the Holy Spirit’s strategies to unify the Body of Christ and bring revival were evident in a $30,000 offering for a neighboring church’s new building project, and in an Israel-loving pastor’s offer to bring his entire congregation to next year’s conference focused on Israel. Two other Colorado churches, The Genesis Project and Freedom Fellowship, received offerings of several thousand dollars each for conversion of the strip club to a sanctuary and a new building for a congregation that currently meets in a rented school facility.
Though not present at Convergence, Pastor Clay Peck of Grace Place in Berthoud, Colo. believes the spirit of giving $30,000 to his nondenominational church reinforces pastors’ “strong passion to celebrate with others the idea of being one church and not becoming an island trying to do things by ourselves. This grows out of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for unity and the knowledge he was sent from God.” Peck’s church is within miles of the conference host, Resurrection Fellowship, and the Assembly of God congregation in Fort Collins.
Another speaker, Pastor George Morrison of Faith Bible Chapel in suburban Denver, agreed to bring members of his mega-church to next year’s conference if it highlights Israel. Morrison, a regional director of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), was elated when Convergence host Pastor Jonathan Wiggins of Resurrection Fellowship told him the Holy Spirit revealed 2015’s theme: Israel. Both pastors and their congregations support the disaster-relief ministry Convoy of Hope and a partnering Jerusalem-based church that houses the Israel Initiative, focused on the nation’s indigent population. A leader from Convoy of Hope and Wayne Hilsden, pastor of King of Kings Community Jerusalem, agreed to speak at Convergence 2015. Messianic worship leader, Paul Wilbur, also is invited.
“People for many years have been praying for unity and revival among churches along the Front Range (of Colorado), and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit here,” says Wiggins who, like other pastors, recognizes signs that Jesus’ prayer and a well-known leader’s prophecy are being fulfilled. Wiggins was among five other pastors who spoke at the conference and his church one of 13 represented at Convergence.
“A number of years ago, Pastor Jack Hayford saw in the spirit that revivals had come from both coasts and that God was going to do something along the Front Range, like a watershed coming together here, that would be greater,” says Wiggins, who’s witnessed recent signs of unity among Colorado churches and in Louisiana, where formerly disparate parts of the Body of Christ including Neo-Pentecostals, Charismatics, Oneness Pentecostals, Spirit-filled Baptists, Catholics and segregated black and white churches are now united. Those include a Neo-Pentecostal church once led by his father and another, Providence Church, his father-in-law‘s independent, Spirit-filled church, formerly a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I believe that we’re about to step into a season of revival that comes not from one church doing something great but from a unified church on which Gods commands a blessing,” says Wiggins, who’s led worship in Baptist, Pentecostal, Independent and Charismatic congregations.
Speakers from different backgrounds and theological differences shared their diverse views openly at the conference, and not everybody agreed with everything they had to say, Wiggins points out. “So what?” he asks.
“What connects us is deeper than having total agreement on everything,” Wiggins says. “If agreement is the criteria, then there’s not a single person in the world who is truly united with anybody else.”
Wiggins say it’s arrogant and proud for any pastor, including himself, to try and produce unity or revival alone. But he expresses hope that both come from a unified effort in which pastors begin to genuinely love each other; people who leave one church for another will be discouraged from trashing pastors and their churches because the leaders and their congregations are so deeply connected; and that every church with a need is supported by the others.
Memories of another bible teacher, the late Derek Prince, were invoked at the conference as well. Before he died, Prince shared his vision of a duck pond that was separated by fences, each section enclosing a group of ducks. All the ducks became one group when the water level rose above the fences. The ducks didn’t know any better than to swim together.
“What would happen if we put aside our petty, doctrinal and theological differences, honored each other, and focused on the Lordship of Jesus and His finished work?” Wiggins asks. “The commanded blessing from the Lord on the church.”
Other Convergence speakers included Pastor Reece Bowling, son-in-law of Bible teacher and Pastor Marilyn Hickey of Orchard Road Christian Center in suburban Denver; and Pastor John Leach of Jubilee Fellowship, also in metropolitan Denver.
The annual conference includes live worship recordings and, this year, a CD titled “Dwelling Place” was released. It’s available online at REZmusic.org.