Read the Gospel Declaration here.
Gregg Heinsch, lead pastor at Celebration Community Church in Celebration, Florida and dean of the Vision 360 Global Collaboration Center and David Howard, professor of Old Testament at Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota were two principal developers of our Gospel Declaration.
The following are excerpts from a recent interview with Heinsch and Howard.
"What is the purpose of the Gospel Declaration?"
HEINSCH The purpose is threefold: First, to keep us grounded in and anchored to the gospel—to have a positive statement of what we are all about as a Conference; second, to bring clarity and be faithful to all the multifaceted expressions of the gospel in Scripture; third, to seek to unify us all under the gospel.
How long has it taken to develop the Declaration?
HOWARD Jerry Sheveland convened an initial meeting of Gregg, Dwight Perry and me in December 2007, with Dana Olson serving as Jerry’s representative. At that meeting we decided it would be helpful to expand the committee membership.We ended up with a task force who represent a good cross-section of Converge Worldwide.
For whom is it written?
HEINSCH We see it being used by leaders within Converge Worldwide churches, and ultimately by all Christ-followers within the churches.We wrote it to clarify who we are, describing what really burns in our hearts and drives our ministry.We are gospel centered people.
Why is it needed now?
HEINSCH If what we want to be about is effective mission - transformation - then we’ve got to be clear on what is the gospel and to be grounded in it. The gospel informs everything we do. Our concern is that familiarity with the gospel can breed a kind of neglect. There are always the potential dangers of adding to or subtracting from the gospel. To the extent we do that, it diminishes the transforming capacity of the gospel in our churches.
HOWARD It’s easy to say, “Sure, we affirm this stuff,” take it for granted and try to move on to what we see as more relevant things. But it’s always good to keep alive and in front of us the foundational concepts that drive the organization or ministry.What we’re saying has been part of the Converge (BGC) DNA for years, but we want to repackage it in ways appropriate for the early 21st century.We want to give Converge people an opportunity to say, “Yeah, this is what we’re about, and we want to affirm it.” Otherwise it’s too easy to let gospel truths become part of the background noise of our lives.
What have been the greatest challenges in developing this?
HOWARD In terms of the substance, in some early meetings we decided what we wanted to cover and assigned teams of two to work on it. When we first came together after that, we probably had a 50-page document. An issue was to narrow down the document, focusing it in a way that would be in depth and actually usable. There was a lot of tough work of slicing and dicing.
The tone and language have a fresh feel.
HOWARD From the very beginning our goal was to create a document that wouldn’t be just another dry doctrinal statement. The committee as a whole agreed we wanted to make it as fresh as possible— to affirm the central core of the gospel and seek a balance in the language that would result in an attractive, positive statement. Gregg gets a lot of credit for being the chair of the committee. He and Jerry have a lot to do with the shape of the final form.