THE CONVERGENCE MOVEMENT
The convergence movement is a coming together of the three major historic branches of the Church, i.e., the Liturgical/Sacramental, the Evangelical, and the Charismatic. Each of these expressions of the Church of Jesus Christ have been carefully nurtured by God and greatly used to establish and expand the His work on earth. Modern day visionaries, however, have discerned the times and are declaring that the right time has arrived for God’s church to be one. “Father, that they maybe one even as we are one,” was the prayer of our Lord. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that, “ a cord of the three strands is not easily broken.” When the three strands of God’s Church are braided together there will be a new strength and unity in the church as hasn’t been seen since the apostolic age.
What the Convergence Movement is Not. The Convergence Movement is not the Ecumenical Movement. The Ecumenical Movement has been a constructive and instrumental part in preparing the scene for the Convergence Movement. It was at first, and will continue to be, necessary for the various factions and denominations of God’s church to dialog and commence tearing down the walls of division. God has blessed this effort. The Convergence Movement, however, has identified the three living streams of the Church and invites God to bring them together as one complete life-giving river. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Place where the Most High dwells” (Psalm 46:4). These three streams each in their own way have defined the map of Christianity through the ages and will merge like a flood into the future to bring reconciliation and unleash God’s powerful purpose for his Church. For the present time, Convergence Churches will be powerful symbols and agents of rapproachement and the impending unity of God’s people in the midst of a growing darkness and alienation in the world.
What a Convergence Church Will Look Like. A Convergence Church will blend the three dynamics of liturgy and sacrament, evangelical focus and charismatic power in their worship, congregational life and outreach.
The Convergence Church has a high view of Holy Scripture, that it contains all things necessary for salvation and godly living. It is committed to the faithful reading, studying, teaching, and preaching from the Scriptures; as well as believing that the Holy Scriptures are a wellspring for spiritual maturity. It believes in the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a holy life, and a commitment to evangelism and missions.
The Convergence Church is open to the work of the Holy Spirit and believes that God’s people have always been a spiritually gifted people. From the Apostles to the modern Church, Christians have been endowed with a power beyond themselves; a power from the Holy Spirit Himself. The Convergence Church not only allows, but anticipates the Spirit’s presence and working through this gifting in both worship and in daily acts of service.
Liturgical and Sacraments
The Convergence Church practices the living historic forms of the liturgies of the Church and the sacraments of Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) and Baptism. It draws on the traditions and wisdom of the Historic Church and is unashamedly part of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the center of its worship is the sacrament of Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) in which it believes that grace is imparted by the real presence of Christ.
According to Wikipedia: The Convergence Movement refers to a move among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States to blend charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical sources. The Movement was inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelical writers like Thomas Howard, Robert E. Webber, Peter E. Gillquist and the ancient Christian writers and their communities. These men, along with theologians, scripture scholars, and pastors in a number of traditions, were calling Christians back to their roots in the primitive church.
Evangelicals Look Eastward
In 1973 Campus Crusade for Christ missionary Peter E. Gillquist (1938-) of Chicago established a network of house churches throughout the United States, aiming to restore a primitive form of Christianity, which was called the New Covenant Apostolic Order (NCAO). Researching the historical basis of the Christian faith, Gillquist and his colleagues found sources for this restoration in the writings of the early Church Fathers. This led the group to practice a more liturgical form of worship than in their previous evangelical background. In 1979, the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) was organized. The belief of needing Apostolic Succession led most members of the EOC to join the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in 1987.
The Chicago Call
In 1977 “The Chicago Call” was issued by the National Conference of Evangelicals for Historic Christianity, meeting in Warrenville, Illinois. Led by Dr. Robert Webber (Assoc. Professor of Theology at Wheaton University), along with Peter Gillquist, Thomas Howard, Richard Holt, Donald Bloesch, Jan Dennis, Lane Dennis, and Victor Oliver, the Conference discussed the need for evangelical Christians to rediscover and re-attach to the Church’s historic roots. The Conference issued several documents which together are known as The Chicago Call. Components of the Call include: A Call to Historic Roots and Continuity; A Call to Biblical Fidelity; A Call to Creedal Identity; A Call to Holistic Salvation; A Call to Sacramental Integrity; A Call to Spirituality; A Call to Church Authority; and A Call to Church Unity.
Evangelicals Look to Anglicanism
Robert Webber’s 1985 book Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church documents the stories of six evangelical Christians who, for various reasons, had converted to the Episcopal Church. Publication of this book stirred up a great deal of interest in the evangelical press, generating numerous reviews in Christianity Today and other widely read evangelical publications. In the following years Webber wrote several additional books that had great influence on evangelical churches seeking to incorporate liturgy and traditional practices into their worship, and numbers of evangelical Christians continued to migrate to the historic liturgical denominations.
In 1984 Charisma magazine, one of the most influential magazines of the charismatic movement, published an article by Dr. Richard Lovelace entitled “The Three Streams, One River?” (Sept. 1984). Lovelace approvingly noted the trend of Catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics/Pentecostals moving closer together.
In 1992 A. Randolph Adler and a group of like-minded charismatic church pastors from the western U.S. formed the Charismatic Episcopal Church. They obtained ordination in apostolic succession and began worshiping liturgically using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Charismatic Episcopal Church grew to become an international body known for its blending of sacramental, charismatic, and evangelical worship traditions.
Other worldwide Convergence Communions include the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), the King’s Family of Churches and the Christian Communion International (CCI), led by its Primate, Daniel W. Williams. Each of these communions are interrelated and have inter-communion comity agreements. They are Evangelical, Sacramental and Pentecostal in piety and practice and use different authorized liturgies in worship. While women are ordained to both the diaconate and the priesthood, they do not admit women to the episcopate.
The Lutheran Catholic Communion (LCC) formed in the year 2008 ordains women up to deaconess, and males only to the offices of Priest and Bishop.
According to the Communion of Evangelical and Episcopal Churches:
The Convergence Movement
“Therefore, every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” – Matthew 13:52
This Scripture summarizes the insight and discovery which has led to a fresh stream of thought and renewal throughout the wider Body of Christ. Described as the Convergence Movement, or “Convergence of the Streams,” this emerging movement appears to many, both observers and participants, to be another contemporary evidence of God’s continuing activity in history to renew, replenish and unify His people in one heart and purpose in Christ. Arising out of a common desire and hunger to experience the fullness of Christian worship and spirituality, the Convergence Movement (also referred to in the remainder of this article as “CM”) seeks to blend or merge the essential elements in the Christian faith represented historically in three major streams of thought and practice: the Charismatic, Evangelical/Reformed and Liturgical/Sacramental. An increasing number of local congregations and leaders from many backgrounds are finding “treasures old and new” in the spiritual heritage of the church universal.
The following graph, developed by the leadership of Hosanna Church of the King located in the Kansas City metropolitan area, illustrates the essential elements and ingredients being drawn upon by the majority of those participating in the movement at this point:
Paradigm of Ministry
|Theology||Biblical Foundation||Five-fold Ministry
|Orthodoxy||Personal Conversion||Power of the Spirit|
|Universality||Evangelism & Mission||Spiritual Gifts|
|Liturgical Worship||Pulpit-Centered Worship||Charismatic Worship|
|Social Action||Personal Holiness||Kingdom|
of the Church (based on
theology, history, and
sacramental elements of
|Biblical and Reformational
understanding of the
Church (pragmatic and
|Spiritual, Organic, and
of the Church (dynamic and
The blending or converging of these traditions is seen by those involved as the work of God the Holy Spirit imparting a spiritual operation of grace best captured in the vision of Psalm 46:5,6: ” There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells. ” Thus, the “city of God” is seen as the Church, the river as the action and flow of God’s Presence through His Church and the many “streams” as expressions of the one river’s life that have developed or broken off from the main river through history, all of which are necessary to enrich and make glad the city with the fullness of God’s life, power, purpose and Presence. These tributaries now seem to be making their way back toward the main stream. Anglican minister David Watson once remarked that, “This break with Rome (the Reformation), although probably inevitable due to the corruption of the time, unfortunately led to split after split within the Body of Christ, with the result that the mission of the Church is today seriously handicapped by the bewildering plethora of endless denominations … a torn and divided Christianity is, nevertheless, a scandal for which all Christians need deeply to repent” (David Watson, I Believe in the Church). This call to be one undergirds the desire of many in CM to see the streams of the Church come together. Wayne Boosahda and Randy Sly of Hosanna Church of the King, one of the key churches in the Kansas City area reflecting the impact of the movement, have expressed the conviction that, “out of the days of the Reformation, we see God’s heart now moving in a kind of ‘reverse reformation’ or restoration, of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” (catholic, here being used to refer to the wider universal Church of Jesus Christ).
HISTORY OF EMERGENCE AND GROWTH
The convergence movement seems to have strong antecedents in two major areas of spiritual and worship renewal affecting the Church in this century: the contemporary Charismatic worship renewal and the Liturgical Renewal Movement, both Catholic and mainline Protestant. The Charismatic Renewal, began in the early 60’s primarily within mainline denominations. Those in the Renewal saw a blending of Charismatic or Pentecostal elements, such as healing, prophecy and spontaneous worship and praise, with the more traditional elements of mainline (and, eventually, Roman Catholic) liturgical and reformed practices.
What some have called the “Third Wave” or “Signs and Wonders Movement” began about 1978 with the emergence of the ministry of John Wimber and the Vineyard Churches that arose through his influence. James Robison, Jim Hylton, Ray Robinson and other Southern Baptist leaders witnessed a Third Wave explosion in the “Fullness Movement,” primarily impacting the SBC. Peter Wagner and others from Fuller Theological Seminary formalized the movement through their writings and acted as a filter and focal point. The Third Wave has been described by some as an epilogue to the Charismatic Renewal, bringing together Charismatic elements of worship, experience and practice with the Evangelical tradition.
The other key influence upon CM has been the Liturgical Renewal Movement, which arose originally out of France in the Roman Catholic Church and the Oxford or Tractarian Movement in the Church of England in the 19th century. The Liturgical Renewal caused a resurgence of interest in recapturing the essence, spirit and shape of ancient Christian worship, as practiced and understood by the early Church of the first eight centuries. Particular focus was given to the apostolic and Ante-Nicene Fathers of the ancient, undivided Church up until about 390 A.D. The discoveries and enrichment of the theology and practice of worship and ministry from that fertile era overflowed into the mainline Protestant churches and began to have major impact upon them, as well, from the 1950’s, on.
A common component in the current CM, which came from these earlier movements, is a strong sense of and concern for unity in the whole of Christ’s Body, the Church. While not associated with the official Ecumenical Movement of the World Council of Churches, those involved in CM seem broadly gripped by the hunger and desire to learn from traditions of worship and spirituality other than their own and to integrate these discoveries into their own practice and experience in the journey of faith. Indeed, many leaders in the fledgling movement describe their experience as a compelling “journey” or “pilgrimage.” Many times, in very unsought-after ways, “sovereign” events, relationships, books or insights gave rise to an understanding of the church that was quite different from their previous perspectives and backgrounds. One case-in-point is Richard Foster, a Quaker by background, whose personal pilgrimage led him to write the classic Celebration of Discipline, in which he unfolds an integrated practice of spiritual disciplines drawn from five basic traditions of spirituality in the Church through history. As a result of his developing focus, Foster convened a conference called “Renovare”, which gathered in Wichita , KS . in 1988. The conference and intended renewal were direct precursors to the “Convergence of Streams” concept.
Basically unheralded or openly recognized until about 1985, many in the movement have discovered others on the “journey” from various church backgrounds who had similar or identical experiences and insights. One by one congregations and leaders have found one another, underlining the sense that God is doing something on a grass roots level similar to an underground river about to break to the surface.
Key contemporary pioneers shaping the awareness and thought of the movement are men like Dr. Robert Webber, author and professor of Theology at Wheaton College; Dr. Robert Stamps, former chaplain of Oral Roberts University; Peter Gillquist, former leader with Campus Crusade for Christ and now an Eastern Orthodox priest and evangelist; Thomas Howard from St. John’s Seminary; Thomas Oden, theologian and author from Drew University, Howard Snyder, theologian, author and Christian educator, Stan White, former Assembly of God pastor, now an Episcopalian priest; and others, such as the late David DuPlessis, Pentecostal minister and key instigator of the Charismatic ecumenical dialogue between Roman Catholics and Pentecostals; current Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey; the United Methodist liturgical Order of St. Luke and Peter Hocken, Roman Catholic theologian.
These individuals range in background from Fundamentalists and Evangelicals to Anglican/Episcopalian and mainline Protestants; and Classical Pentecostals and independent Charismatics to Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Although not all those named are involved directly in the CM, all have helped shape and influence the vision and thought and developing practice of those who are.
Robert Webber has written a number of key books on the history and practice of Christian worship, such as Worship Old and New, Worship Is A Verb and Signs of Wonder – The Phenomenon of Convergence in the Modern Liturgical and Charismatic Churches , all of which have been highly influential on those involved in the movement. His book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, describing a trend of Evangelical Christians moving toward liturgical churches and the reasons why, was one of the first discoveries for many who are now clearly operating in a convergence perspective.
Greater public awareness of the new movement came through Stan White, a young fourth generation Assembly of God pastor from Valdosta, Georgia, who caused a major stir when he took his entire independent Charismatic congregation into the Episcopal Church. The story was written up in Christianity Today in September of 1990 entitled “Why the Bishops Went to Valdosta” and Charisma Magazine, the major voice for the Charismatic movement, followed in April of 1991 with a similar article on White’s remarkable journey toward a church that was fully Charismatic, fully Evangelical, and fully Liturgical and Sacramental.
Peter Giliquist, a former Campus Crusade for Christ leader in the 60’s, left the campus movement with a number of other fellow leaders, searching for the real New Testament Church. Giliquist’s book, Becoming Orthodox – A journey to The Ancient Christian Faith, chronicled their fascinating journey of over 15 years of seeking, studying, and researching the early church. Their discoveries led them into full reception and inclusion by the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Two thousand Evangelical/Charismatic believers from various backgrounds who made up the membership of the fifteen congregations they had founded were also received into the Antiochian branch of the Orthodox Church.
As news of these events and key materials began to circulate, others on the “journey,” as many began to identify it, caught wind and took heart that God was indeed at work. Various leaders and participants were, in fact, increasingly relieved to discover they were not the only ones thinking this way or being compelled by this vision. In a quite unexpected way God seemed to be confirming His call and initiation towards a vision of unity in the Body of Christ in conformity with the spirit of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and His statement in John 10:16, “I have many other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd”. It seemed to be a unity that would not only leap boundaries, but one that would lead to an enlargement and enrichment of the faith, vision, worship and practice of the fullness of Christ in the fullness of His Church.
Three key clusters of local congregations and ministries that represent and reflect the vision, values and developing practices of CM are found in the metropolitan Kansas City area, in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma and a newly developed network of churches, The Evangelical Christian Church in the U.S.A. and throughout the West Indies. Hosanna Church of The King, founded in 1988 in the Kansas City area as an independent, Third Wave/Charismatic congregation, was instrumental in stirring interest and building relationship, locally and translocally, based on the convergence of streams awakening. Planted by Wayne and Stephanie Boosahda , the church is now pastored by Randy and Sandy Sly , who have worked together with the Boosahda’s to foster awareness of this fresh-work of God’s Spirit. Others in the K.C. area being influenced in the convergence direction represent Episcopal, independent Charismatic, Evangelical holiness and mainline Protestant congregations and leaders. Pastors Ron McCrary of Christ Episcopal and Randall Davey of Overland Park Church of the Nazarene represent two others in the metropolitan area impacted by convergence thought and practice.
In Oklahoma City, pastors Mike and Beth Owen of Church of the Holy Spirit, originally a “Third Wave” Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Dr. Robert Wise and wife Marguerite of Community Church of the Redeemer have, along with their congregations, made a formative impact on the OKC area, as they have shared their journeys with other congregations and leaders, especially within liturgical and Charismatic circles. They have developed strong ties with those in Kansas City , formalizing the national and transdenominational focus on the movement’s essential vision and values. These churches and leaders, together with a number of others across the wider Church of Jesus Christ are convinced they are involved in something of historic significance and promise for the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” of Jesus Christ in our time.
The Evangelical Christian Church was a network of charismatic congregations with a liturgical base that was overseen by Dr. Russ McClanahan. The vision of the network was to build a relationally based group of ministries and churches that would seek to blend the streams of the evangelical, charismatic and sacramental aspects of the church. These churches along with a single congregation in the Fredericksburg, VA area were the initial congregations and ministries that later formed the Evangelical Episcopal Church.
COMMON ELEMENTS OF CONVERGENCE CHURCHES
Those who are being drawn by the Lord into this convergence of streams are characterized by several common elements. While these are not exhaustive or in any order of importance, they seem to form the basis for the focus and direction of the Convergence Movement.
1. A restored commitment to the sacraments, especially The Lord’s Table.
Those from the Evangelical and Charismatic streams of the church have not really emphasized the sacramental dimension of the church. In fact, for some churches, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion have been seen more as ordinances than sacraments – commands by the Lord that must be undertaken by the church, but for no other purpose than that of obedience.
From a more sacramental view, these two expressions of church life are seen as holy and sacred unto the Lord, a symbol with true spiritual meaning used as a point of contact between man and God. The Lord’s presence and power is released in these acts as the worshiper encounters Him through the elements.
2. An increased appetite to know more about the early church.
For many Christians, a vacuum has existed between the pages of the New Testament and the contemporary church. This has left a disconnected Body with no historic heritage. Like a boat adrift, the church can no longer explain who she is, where she came from, or why she exists. A recent shift in perspective has sent her searching for her roots, in order to find a common connection to the greater whole in God’s Kingdom.
Studying the early church has given many an opportunity to see New Testament church principles being applied by those who were discipled by the Twelve, and their subsequent followers. These writings provide a window into an earlier time, explaining how the early church approached faith and practice, how they worshipped, and how they gave leadership to a growing movement. The bloodline of the Body of Christ can be traced through succeeding generations – seeing both the successes and failure in faith.
3. A love and embrace for the whole church, and a desire to see the church as one.
The various expressions of Christianity have remained very distinct for many years through sectarianism and denominational separatism. Convergence churches are looking beyond these artificial barriers to encourage, appreciate, and learn more about the uniquenesses found in the various bodies of faith. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was for the church to become one… one as the Body of Christ, not through compromise of doctrine and dogma, but unity under the person of Jesus Christ – unity among our diversity. This sense of oneness does not require any church to dismiss their unique expression as Christ’s Body, but calls them to appreciate and embrace the variety and beauty of the church worldwide and throughout history.
Convergence churches seem to appreciate the investment that the various streams of the Church provide. The call of CM churches is “be one,” move together in portraying a people united under Christ to reach a hurting world.
4. The blending in the practices of all three streams is evident, yet each church approaches convergence from different bases of emphasis.
A church does not necessarily have to change its identity when it becomes a part of a convergence movement. Most convergence churches have a dominant base — one particular expression of’ the church that regulates the others. They can still look very Episcopalian, Orthodox, Baptist, Nazarene, independent Charismatic, etc. while expressing additional elements of worship and ministry from other streams.
With each church having a primary base, three different types of convergence churches seem to be most common today: blended churches, inclusion churches, and network churches. Blended churches have maintained their original identity, denominational connection and distinctives theologically. From this base they then are adding elements from the other two streams in their worship and ministry practices. While most common among Liturgical/Sacramental churches, blended churches are found in Evangelical and Charismatic streams as well. Overland Park Church of the Nazarene, in the Kansas City metroplex, is distinctly involved in convergence yet remains strongly identified with its denominational heritage.
Inclusion churches are those that have gone through a metamorphosis in becoming involved in the convergence. Primarily from Charismatic or Evangelical backgrounds, these churches have found themselves so closely identifying with another stream of the Church that they have re-aligned themselves and many have even become a part of Liturgical/Sacramental denominations. Church of the King, Valdosta , GA whom we mentioned earlier in the article, is probably the best known inclusion church in recent years.
Networked churches are independent churches who have become a part of the CM and have left their former associations but have chosen to remain independent. Their connections are based on strong relationships with other like-minded churches. Most of those who are networked churches have come out of the Charismatic stream.
5. An interest in integrating more structure with spontaneity in worship.
As God’s Spirit continues to move powerfully in the world, new wineskins (or structure) are required to contain the power and potential of His new wine. While most Christian futurists expected these new wineskins to be composed of more open and spontaneous churches with a de-emphasized structure, the spirit of independence present, especially in North American Christians, underlines the impression that this would be like pouring wine into a fish net.
God’s holy fire is now being kindled in furnaces of faith where structures such as liturgical forms are allowing power to be imparted in churches without the fear of moving into error. Liturgies are being reintroduced into the church in order to bring a balance in worship among all the elements Scripture reveals as necessary for worshipping God in spirit and truth. The word “liturgy” literally means the “work of the people.” Through the implementation of liturgical elements, worship becomes the work of the body in praise, repentance, the hearing of the Word, and the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. Within these forms room can always be found for spontaneous moves of the Spirit. The historic creeds of the church – the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc. – are once again giving the Body of Christ the foundational roots of orthodoxy. The Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical resources are also being blended with spontaneous praise and worship in convergence churches. The Lord’s table is being celebrated with a greater understanding of the sacredness of the event, and churches are following the Christian year and church calendar more consistently as a means of taking their people on an annual journey of faith. All of these expressions give local fellowships a greater sense of connection with the church worldwide and the church through history.
5. A greater involvement of sign and symbol in worship through banners, crosses, Christian art and clerical vestments.
The contemporary church has begun to reclaim the arts for Christ. In this move, the use of sign and symbol serves as a representative of a greater truth. While banners and pageantry have found a new place in the church, other symbols are showing up as well, as contact points for bringing together two realities: the outward sign or symbol and the inward or spiritual reality. Crosses and candles now adorn processionals in some churches that for years had felt pageantry would be a signature of the death of vital faith.
Some pastors are now wearing clerical collars and vestments in various services, worship settings and celebrations of the church. The collar serves as a sign of spiritual reality in being yoked with Christ, identifying with and speaking to the church as a whole, prophetically saying, “Be one!”
6. A continuing commitment to personal salvation, Biblical teaching, and to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Some who watch this “new direction” from the Evangelical or Charismatic sidelines are still skeptical. They are concerned that convergence churches are abandoning their heritage, and that the value of Biblical infallibility and personal conversion will be lost or compromised in the pursuit of the liturgical/sacramental side of the church. Often, this concern arises out of negative prior personal experiences with certain expressions of the church or an inaccurate stereotype. Those watching from the liturgical / sacramental side are usually as concerned about their churches embracing more conservative or fundamental expressions of faith and practice.
This movement is definitely not the abandonment of a stream but a convergence. The work of God is inclusive not exclusive, bringing forth from each tributary those things which He has authenticated. Such issues as evangelism, missions, and the work of ministry by the power of the Spirit remain intact in this journey. His power continues to be released in marvelous ways in people’s lives, bringing about conversion, healing, release from bondages, and life change.
The Church’s rich and vital Biblical heritage in the power and primacy of the Word has been more completely undergirded as churches give more time in worship to the corporate reading of the Bible. This fulfills Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and teaching.” Ironically, on Sunday mornings more Scripture is usually read in a traditional liturgical service than most Evangelical or Charismatic gatherings.
The future of the church will be greatly impacted by the convergence movement. The walls between groups and denominations are already becoming veils which can be torn open, giving those from other branches greater opportunity to experience another’s faith and practice.
As the convergence movement grows, mainline denominations will find their numbers reinforced and their churches refreshed. The huge influx of people, with various levels of contact in these churches, will bring a vitality for the ancient faith that is vibrant and strong. Their intense devotion for ancient forms will be contagious, caught by those who have lost their enthusiasm.
Formal and informal educational tracks in the various streams can become much broader in scope, addressing issues that may be found in other sections of the church, such as sacramental theology and practices, rites of initiation, the work of the Holy Spirit, etc.
The Convergence Movement will also open up greater opportunities for shared facilities and ministry since the architecture and layout of churches will be conducive to the more common worship elements of the different churches. Approaches to ministry will also become more similar, allowing a greater variety of churches to work together for evangelism, discipleship, social action, and Body life.
The final verses of the Old Testament close with a promise that the spirit of Elijah will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. While these verses have been used in recent days to characterize the need to return to family values, the hope also exists that a new spirit in the church will turn the hearts of this generation of believers back toward the apostolic fathers and others who formed and fashioned vital faith in the centuries following Christ’s ascension. They had envisioned and worked for a Christianity that was orthodox and durable, generation upon generation, operating in strict adherence to the revelation of Christ for His church. The church of the twentieth century is now eagerly looking back to these fathers of faith and discovering new life in the forms and structures God built in their midst.
According to Dennis Peacocke:
The Convergence Movement
The World is About to Become a Very Different Place
The Convergence was articulated at a historic gathering in June 2000 hosted by Strategic Christian Services. Participants begin to engage in the conversation that must take place between the Christian community and the secular world on these key issues;
1) Transferring life values to our children,
2) Racial justice,
3) The value of everyone’s work,
4) Getting out of the left/right political game, and
5) Why character matters.
Understanding the Convergence will energize you to fight the good fight of faith and help equip you to speak on the most important issues of our day from a biblical perspective
Defining a Movement
The third millennium is now upon us, with all its historic landmarks and challenges. God is releasing insight and motivation in the minds and hearts of men, which will change history and push it toward God’s sovereign goals. A movement is emerging which will eventually shake our world to its very core.
I am eternally grateful to be alive, both to witness this move of God, and to play my part in it. Name your favorite historical leader or move of God in either Church or world history-it is but an essential precedent to what God is about to do now.
The remnant Church and the world system are on a collision course. Christ said that two seeds (Gen. 3:15), two kingdoms, have been planted by God in the earth (Mt.13: 24-30, 37-43). They must grow to maturity together until the cataclysmic intervention of God, which will end time. They are in intense opposition to each other. They are competing for the hearts and minds of men and the resources of the earth. These two kingdoms are likewise competing for the right and responsibility to govern the nations and economies of the world.
Over the centuries, some of the leaders on both sides of this great cosmic conflict have been aware of the ultimate reality of this war between two kingdoms. Until now, however, it has largely been hidden from the masses. Like fog burning off in the heat of the sun, the vapors are beginning to lift around the edges of this reality. And the Spirit of God is the One who has been assigned to gradually perform this unveiling.
This movement, which God is energizing in the saved and unsaved alike, is characterized by the growing arousal of man’s spiritual being. Western man is revisiting the issues of spiritual reality and spiritual conflict as we approach the 21st century-values that he discarded in the name of “science” or “modern reality” earlier in the 20th century.
God moves in history, and He moves history itself. Movements, which are socially significant changes in history, occur when man responds to the hand or truths of God, willingly or unwillingly. They are characterized by the focus and shift of resources (both intellectual and material) toward a particular truth, need, or cause.
Sometimes movements trigger permanent changes in the way humanity lives. Some obvious examples of history-changing movements would be –
1) the “priesthood of all believers”;
2) the technological and material changes due to the use of the “scientific method”; and
3) the emergence of the modern economic world due to the nearly universal application of the concept of the division of labor and economies of scale.
This emerging movement, this redrawing of the spiritual lines of conflict between God’s Kingdom and the kingdom of this world, will change the world on all those levels and more. And ever-increasing economic and social conflicts will help pull the trigger.
Movements are spawned and fueled by seminal ideas. Seminal ideas, once discovered or revealed, produce a critical mass of human numbers and commitment which forces the “way things are” to change forever. Trends may change the way we live; history-making movements change the way our great-grandchildren will live.
Movements of this sort cut across class, ethnicity, and to some degree, even religious differences. When God “pours out His Spirit on all flesh” (Joel 2:28), He means everyone, not just the people whom we think are entitled to this blessing!
This emerging movement, which has four major components, has already begun in the world and in the Church. No one can stop it. It will build upon and eclipse the other essential movements God has already built as a progressive process. It will cause enormous controversy, significant divisions, and amazing new configurations and alliances. What is coming will both reveal heaven and raise hell.
History has always been changed when men and women-those who could not be bought, changed, or scared off-moved together to achieve common goals. A core of believers, soon to be joined by awakened unbelievers, are unwittingly beginning to move toward convergence in this coming movement of God.
Because the history-changing movement we are discussing has its roots in the Church, we must first identify three major truths that are driving these believers toward massive change. In our next article in this series, we will look at how believers and unbelievers will converge into a parallel movement.
Four Key Signals of a Fresh Movement
I. GENERATIONAL TRANSFER:
The first sign of God’s move is the growing focus on the need to transfer life-giving values from one generation to the next. This concern with “generational transfer” carries with it huge implications, such as:
1. A visible fulfillment in the Church of the scripture of Malachi 4:6, where the hearts of the fathers and their children are united with common life vision. This will stand in stark contrast to the increasing breakdown between the generations in the world.
2. An end to the idea that man should be living and consuming as if the world were ending tomorrow. Instead, we ought to be living and investing in the future and future generations-passing on eternal values, celebrating life together, and working toward life goals which may take several united generations to bring to pass.
3. Recognition that life for believers in God’s eternal Kingdom begins at their new birth-not at their entry into heaven. While God’s Kingdom will not be completed until Christ returns, we have been called now in order to extend His Kingdom on earth, for the benefit of current and future generations.
If you find yourself increasingly concerned with the world your children will inherit, and how to prepare them to lead it, the movement is already capturing your heart.
II. ETHNIC JUSTICE:
The second sign of this emerging movement is a deepening concern for ethnic justice, along with the increasing revelation that we need to recognize and value all of God’s ethnic groups as playing an essential part in His symphony of human souls and multicolored community. This liberating truth will-
1. Challenge the fundamentally racist origin and doctrine of Darwin’s theory of evolution, that undergirds man’s view of himself as either superior or inferior relative to his human brethren of different color or culture.
2. Force us all to examine our hearts and deal with the fears and prejudices harbored in them, that separate us from our brethren of other cultures.
3. Press the Church into an honest discussion as to which attributes of ethnic culture are truly biblical, and which attributes are simply soulish. Such a frank discussion will help us determine how we can use each of our cultural strengths to disciple nations and advance Christ’s Kingdom.
If your blood pulses with a desire to work with people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, then God has already begun to prepare your heart for the movement.
III. MINISTRY OF ALL BELEIVERS:
The third sign of this swelling tide of God’s life is the growing concern for the value of all people’s ministry and vocations, especially in the life of the local church. The era of the senior pastor being the primary source of ministry is coming to a much-needed end.
Those who truly love God will no longer feel limited to becoming an evangelist or a Bible teacher. As a pastor, I remind us all that every Christian who is awake is already in full-time Christian ministry. As this concern for equipping the saints in the various jurisdictions of life, service, and influence continues to grow, it will have profound effects on church structure, leadership development, and the local church’s role in their community.
A church is coming that will have no “little people.” In order to produce such a church, we are seeing a concept of leadership emerge that makes the scriptures of Ephesians 4:11-16 come to life before our very eyes.
Among the implications of this phenomenon is a focus on equipping the saints for work and evangelism in the marketplace, since this is where most people spend the majority of their time.
When God moves, the “fisherman” nature of His people begins to stir. It is stirring as believers are being equipped to “fish” where they work and where they are surrounded by unbelievers. Evangelism “programs” are never as effective as Christ’s life on display.
If your heart is saying, “Where do my gifts and callings fit into what God is doing so that I can help change the world?” then God is already getting you ready for the movement.
IV. THE END OF LEFT/RIGHT POLITICS:
As the nations of the world enter the 21st century, there is a growing sense that neither the political “left” nor the political “right” has been able to bring solutions to the problems that increasingly face our society and the world.
The old way of defining things is unable to unify people around the ideals of justice, compassion, productivity, and freedom. Disillusioned people are beginning to look for a “third way,” some viable means of addressing social dilemmas and experiencing genuine community. Enter, please, the Kingdom of God and Kingdom culture.
While many Christians have already been awakened to the need to take a stand politically on issues that affect their responsibilities as parents, believers, and citizens, often they have felt somewhat limited in their ability to impact the culture.
They protested abortion and pornography, or tried to vote Republican in an attempt to tip the balance of the existing left-right game that has stalemated the Western world for decades. Many Christians are now restless or even apathetic because it seems that little has changed as a result of their activity and their seemingly futile passion for change.
Even more than the disquietude of Christian activists is the stirring for a breakout from this stalemated, “left-right” game in growing numbers of people on both sides of the political spectrum. This is a potentially dynamite situation, and one which leads us back to the point I made in earlier when I alluded to Joel 2:28 and God’s promise to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. People from very different backgrounds, denominations, and socio-economic levels are being moved by God’s Spirit toward an ideological convergence.
Convergence occurs when people of different ideologies begin to approach the same point, even though they may be coming toward it from different directions. Historic movements are always characterized by some level of significant convergence.
A biblical example of this principle of convergence is when God brought the animals together to Noah’s Ark, even though many of them were mortal enemies or had no use for each other. I can just imagine the lion and the lamb walking together toward the Ark. The lion says to the lamb, “Where are you going?” And the lamb says, “I don’t know, but whatever is driving you toward that big wooden thing is also driving me!” God is the author of convergence, and He uses it when some part of His ultimate purpose for man is about to take place.
The “animals” are once again restlessly stirring- Charismatics and non-Charismatics; intercessory prayer warriors and hard-line evangelists; city changers and back-to-the-land believers; prophets and pastors; historic groupings and emerging Apostolic streams-black and white, Latino and Asian.
As this call for the “third way” begins to grow in the coming years, the converging power of God’s Spirit will link believers of all types together on the same journey. And moving with them will be a rapidly growing number of disillusioned, unsaved people who are looking for real answers in a world where the establishment’s old ones have proven to be hollow, sterile, and often destructive.
As the “march to the Ark” builds, it will bring with it salvation, transformation, and the polarizing of the wheat and the tares. This polarization will press us all to new levels of spiritual intensity and maturity.
The Convergence Bring Revival and Reformation.
More significantly, it will force the awakened Church back up on the Mountain of the Lord to act as a beacon of God’s light for the nations. The redeemed community, like a global change agent, will be broadcasting a signal of divine transformation to all who truly seek it.
The movement will then be characterized by the synergy of united generations, co laboring ethnic groups, trained and commissioned believers from every sphere of culture and vocation, marching convergently with an army of unbelievers who are being converted as they move toward the “third way.” This way leads to Father’s “Kingdom coming” and His “will being done on earth as it in heaven.”
The march toward Father’s ark has begun. I can hear the sound of marching feet and I can smell the scent of dust mixed with sweat and holy passion.