USA (MNN) — Recent Barna research shows that most Christians equate spiritual
maturity with following rules. It also reveals that American pastors struggle to develop an
adequate vision for spiritual growth.
pastors who partner with Global Advance gathered for a conference recently, many
of them were discouraged by this kind of issue, said founder David
"Many pastors came really
discouraged in some of the trends in their own churches, and they just needed a
fresh word of hope and encouragement," Shibley explained. "They are confronting an increasingly
biblically-illiterate society, even within our own churches. Somehow we've not gotten across the basics of the
Gospel and the basics of Scripture."
Global Advance has been holding
this conference every year for 10 years. The pastors who attend are pastors who coordinate pastoral training conferences
for Global Advance.
"This year there will be 107
[conferences] in the neediest nations of the world," Shibley said. "25 percent of those are led by U.S. pastors
themselves, without any involvement of Global Advance staff. These are men and women who understand our
ethos and have accepted our DNA, of seeing the Gospel really advanced through
the equipping of pastoral leaders around the world."
The conference is an opportunity
not only for fellowship and for Global Advance to cast a vision for the next
years of ministry, but for pastors to encourage each other in fulfilling the
"It's also a time to focus…on
reaching our own communities, wherever that local church happens to be, and
seeing that every person within a large radius of that church is confronted
with the Gospel, and has the claims of Christ shared with them in a loving
manner," Shibley explained. "These
pastors can give an interchange of ideas of what is working for them locally,
but also in their international mission outreaches."
Shibley said this kind of
conference is important in a culture where many needs pull pastors in many different
directions. Global Advance invited the
Billy Graham Association to the conference to enhance the focus on outreach and
"The church in America, I believe,
is enormously distracted today–" Shibley explained, "sometimes by very good things. But they're distracted from what the Lord left us here to do–to make disciples of all nations
and to proclaim the Gospel to every person. "
The conference reminds pastors that
there is hope for the future of the American church. It also promotes community
among those who strive to focus their energies on the Great Commission.
"We want to provide a forum for
them to come together, to exchange ideas, to encourage one another, and to just
foster a real camaraderie," Shibley said.
Christians should pray for their
pastors, and for all the pastors in the country.
"Pray that the Word of the Lord
would spread rapidly and that it would be honored," Shibley said. "Every true shepherd wants, of course, all of
his church to be mature in Christ, and to become full, fruitful disciples of
Christ… We need to pray that pastors will remain encouraged in the Lord…and that
they will stay focused and make the main thing, The Main Thing. Preach the Gospel to every person, make
disciples of every nation."