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REVELATION 7:9 TASK FORCE

The Revelation 7:9 Task Force report to the 42nd General Assembly of its work during 2021-2022, plus recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.

Use these quicklinks to navigate to a specific section of this report:

Summary of Work
Summary of Recommendations
Work of the Committee
Recommendations (Detailed)
Committee Members
Meeting Dates

Andrew Smith

Co-Chairman
TE, Presbytery of the East

Rufus Smith

Co-Chairman
TE, Presbytery of the West

SUMMARY OF WORK

1. We have described seven expressions of a local church aspiring to imitate Revelation 7:9 in our broken world, so do not advocate that every church become multi-ethnic.

2. We have suggested a modification of the outreach philosophy of a local church aspiring to imitate Revelation 7:9.

3. We have established the threefold process for interested churches that aspire to imitate Revelation 7:9 as much as possible in a broken world.

4. We are using an assessment tool created by The Gospel Initiative at Denver Seminary, which measures a church’s readiness to embrace the path of Revelation 7:9.

5. We have established a coaching model of four Task Force members to walk with a congregation from readiness to execution.

6. We have recruited 11 new members to the Task Force, representing 10 Presbyteries.

7. We have doubled the goal to identify 12-15 churches who inquired and who aspire to pursue the strategies of Revelation 7:9.

8. We are contemplating a theological statement for the basis of the Revelation 7:9 or the Gospel and Race, in conjunction with the Theology and Ministerial Vocation committees.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Revelation 7:9 Task Force has no recommendations for the 42nd General Assembly.

WORK OF THE COMMITTEE

America is more ethnically and age diverse (the 78 million Millennials is the largest group ever born in America), as well as more averse to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If the EPC is to thrive in future generations, its face to the world must evolve to reflect these ethnic and age changes without compromising the infallible Word of God.

The purpose of the Revelation 7:9 Task Force is to improve the delivery of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment locally within our 1-, 3-, and 5-mile radius. Many of our churches rightly invest heavily—intentionally and strategically—in the global component of the Great Commission/Great Commandment of reaching the uttermost parts of the world. However, many invest less heavily—less intentionally and less strategically—in reaching their local neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.

Revelation 7:9 is not a social justice initiative but a very biblical initiative, mirroring the Jewish-Gentile unification of the church in Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 13, Ephesians 2, etc. It is both prescriptive and descriptive. Thus, the Task Force believes that if EPC churches proactively pursue our local 1-3-5 radius, churches will more likely reflect the descriptive church in John’s Revelation, which is illustrative of the coming Kingdom of God. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

WORK OF THE COMMITTEE

A. We replaced four members of the Task Force due to illness or relocation from the EPC.

B. We described seven expressions of a local church aspiring to imitate Revelation 7:9.

When a mono-ethnic church decides to transform into a multi-ethnic, inter- generational, and/or socio-economically diverse congregation.
When a mono-ethnic church intentionally plants a daughter church using a Revelation 7:9 ethic, in an area where the demographics make sense, or plants a multi-site campus extension, differing in age or ethnicity than the mother church.
When a church plants among people of color in a given ZIP code. This plant will look and feel very different than the “mother” church.
When a church plants a church in an area under-served with a gospel presence.

Note: we are using the definition for the “under-served” from the EPC Church Planting Team, which differs from an under-resourced community. An underserved ZIP code is defined as one in which a church plant is designed to evangelize a demographic dominated by “Nones” or “Dones” or the religiously unaffiliated (formerly called “unchurched” or “dechurched”) in their 1-3-5-mile radius.

Another expression of practically applying Revelation 7:9 can begin when a church intentionally seeks qualified, godly leaders who bring age and ethnic diversity to staff positions, election of officers, and appointment of key volunteers.
Yet another expression of imitating Revelation 7:9 is changing the facility-sharing model between a majority congregation and a minority congregation. This means shifting from being less transactional to being more relational. In other words, instead of simply having a landlord- tenant “contract,” the mother church has better “contact” fellowships in new ways with the church or parachurch tenant. Facility-sharing would also include frequent joint events and partnering on joint outreach endeavors as equal partners.
Finally, a church can practically apply Revelation 7:9 by expressing a different local outreach philosophy described in Section C.

C. We defined the local outreach philosophy of a church aspiring to imitate Revelation 7:9 as being less paternal, with more active listening. This new philosophy entails:

Developing personal peer to peer relationships with a minority church, non-profit, or community leaders.
Gathering with community stakeholders in under-resourced areas to inquire about their neighborhood needs.
Adopting an under-resourced school with a minority church, which include intentional power-sharing partnerships.
Convening candid, Christ-centered, civil conversations, which cultivate trust and build personal multi-ethnic relationships.
Engaging multiple events in addition to just a joint worship hour.
Recognition that poverty is more than economics and requires wholistic ministry.
Conducting asset-based research on what is good about the neighborhood, instead of just its deficits.
Creating a financial budget line item to fund and sustain this philosophy.

D. We clarified two essentials to begin evaluating interested churches aspiring to imitate Revelation 7:9.

First, that the Senior Pastor is a chief advocate of pursuing the ethic of Revelation 7:9 and then deputizing a liaison if he or she chooses to delegate.
Second, organize a futuristic team or a local Revelation 7:9 Task Force that researches and sets goals for near-term/long-term, based on the context of the local church.

E. We have established four (4) coaching teams consisting of 4 Task Force members. The assigned coaching team will assist a church in assessing demographics, as well as readiness regarding the attitude/desire of the staff, Session, key volunteer leaders, and congregation. They will also assist in creating a plan of execution but will not assist in the plan’s implementation.

F. We have established that these four-person coaching teams will follow a congregation through the stages of initial interest to assessment, using the Denver Seminary Gospel Challenge Assessment Tool.

G. We recruited 11 new members to the Task Force. We represent 10 Presbyteries.

H. We identified 21 churches who aspire to explore the path of Revelation 7:9.

I. We are contemplating a theological statement to undergird the basis of the Revelation 7:9 concept or the Gospel and Race, enjoining the Ministerial Vocation and Theology committees.

AN INVITATION TO INTERESTED EPC CHURCHES

As you execute your church’s mission, we understand that not every church is interested on embarking on this journey. But if you think this strategy can revitalize your congregation and community, explore becoming a church that imitates Revelation 7:9 as much as possible in this broken world. Yes, it will be costly. Yes, there will be sorrow. Yes, you will make mistakes. No, we do not have all the answers nor know where it will all lead. But we do know that this pursuit will lead us closer to the heart of the Lord for all people.

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

And we know that the Revelation 7:9 path will make us better practitioners of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment in our local churches and communities.

RECOMMENDATIONS (DETAILED)

The Revelation 7:9 Task Force has no recommendations for the 42nd General Assembly.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Andrew Smith (Co-Chairman)
TE, Presbytery of the East

Steve Burton
TE, Presbytery of the Central South

Michael Davis
TE, Presbytery of the Central South

Greg Ealey
TE, Presbytery of the Great Plains

Laurie Johnston
TE, Presbytery of the Great Plains

Cheryl Mendes-Ellis
Presbytery of the West

Brandon Queen
RE, Presbytery of the Gulf South

Eric Shipton
TE, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic

Tom Werner
RE, Presbytery of Mid-America

Rufus Smith (Co-Chairman)
TE, Presbytery of the West

Jeff Cook
TE, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic

Marc de Jeu
TE, Presbytery of the Alleghenies

Enid Flores
RE, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean

Joe Kim
TE, Presbytery of the East

Mark Potter
TE, Presbytery of the Midwest

Doug Resler
TE, Presbytery of the West

Ben Tzeng
TE, Presbytery of Mid-America

Rodger Woodworth
TE, Presbytery of the Alleghenies

MEETING DATES

October 13, 2021: Video Conference
November 17-19, 2021: Knoxville, Tennessee
February 23-25, 2022: Office of the General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)
April 6-7, 2022: Office of the General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Andrew Smith, Co-Chairman
May 2022

 

 

 

 

Rufus Smith, Co-Chairman
May 2022

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