The recent C3 Church Global Conference in Kuala Lumpur saw 1,800 attendees impacted to carry out the Great Commission.
Contributed By Yong Yung Shin
From Aug. 23 to 26, 1,800 pastors, itinerant ministers and full-time church employees from 22 nations gathered at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the tri-annual C3 Church Global Conference.
Last held in Hawaii in 2005 with an attendance of 1,100 people, the conference is part of the C3 Church movement started by Phil and Christine Pringle, senior ministers at C3 Church Oxford Falls, in Sydney, Australia. Its vision, termed “Vision 2020” is to see 1,000 churches planted by the year 2020 with an average attendance of 500 members.
Through Vision 2020, the C3 movement has grown from 71 churches in 2000 to over 300 today; from five nations in 2000 to 35 nations today, riding on an escalating momentum of revival around the world. Through the C3 churches, 600 come to Christ every week, from urban Los Angeles to rural China—one church planter testified of how a young village girl from a Chinese village started reciting Bible verses even though she had never seen a Bible.
Here are sermon snapshots from the key speakers: Phil and Christine Pringle, David Sumrall, senior pastor of Cathedral of Praise in the Philippines and City Harvest Church’s senior pastor Kong Hee.
Launching the conference, Pringle taught on the impact of a single faithful witness. There was a Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball, who one day reached out to his troubled Sunday school charges who worked at a shoe store, a young boy named Dwight L. Moody. Kimball later felt that he had given a weak witness, but little did he know that his witness eventually led Moody to become a powerful evangelist, whose witness ultimately led to the salvation of Billy Graham, who is today a world-renowned evangelist.
“You don’t know who you are touching when you do the will of God,” said Pringle, encouraging the congregation to go out and do the works of God, be it discipling others, soul-winning or reaching out to the backslidden and the marginalized. “You cannot grow your church by staying on the shores.” After all, Jesus exhorted His would-be disciple similarly: “He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep’” (Luke 5:4).
Pringle also spoke about the works of the Word, and reminded those in church leadership positions to be wary of being over-occupied with management roles. The highest priority of a pastor is to feed Jesus’ sheep with only two things—the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. “You have to drink of the living water and wait upon the Lord; if you’re rushing from management meetings to preaching meetings, there’s no life and thus, no growth. Without the Holy Spirit, the legal Word of God kills.”
There are really only two secrets to leading a powerful Christian life: praying and reading the Bible. Pringle quoted John 15:5, saying, “When you’re disconnected from Christ, your life gets smaller because no life flows through you. The Word of God is the seed for a person’s future; when we sow the seed, it will do the work of producing fruit.”
When pastors complain that there is nobody to do the work at their church, Pringle noted that more often than not, there is a lack in the level of belief of his church members. He exhorted church leaders to empower their members. “Fan into flame the gifts that are in your church,” he said.
DAVID SUMRALL: SHEPHERDS SMELL LIKE SHEEP
Sumrall’s first sermon sought to reinforce the privilege of those who have been called to pastoring. “As a pastor, I get the pleasure and joy of a front-row seat to the grace of God in other people’s lives,” he said.
He also reminded the congregation that “the people are not given to us; we are given to the people,” as it is said in Jeremiah 3:15: ”I will give you shepherds after my own heart.” Pastors are part of the fulfillment of the promise of God to His people. “Don’t ask God for things; ask God to give us to people,” he added. “It’s never about me; it’s about the calling He has placed on His people. My job is to lead the people to the calling God has placed on them. They’re the focus of my appointment. My only success is in their success.”
Without sugarcoating the demands of pastoring, Sumrall quoted from Proverbs 27:23, “Be sure to know the condition of your flock, pay careful attention …” and explained how it was not enough for a pastor to know the real condition of their member’s lives through a mere meal or coffee break. It would also be imperative for the leader to be sensitive to both the well-to-do members and those who are poorer. “You have to be equally home in both places,” he asserted.
He used the example of Moses, who never walked out on his people no matter how faithless they were or how much they rebelled against him, as “a good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep,” (John 10:11).
Sumrall ended with a word of encouragement on being faithful in the little things. “God will give you to a small flock to test your faithfulness. Be faithful to that flock and God will add daily to the church those who are saved.”
Speaking on the Cultural Mandate, Kong shared that unless Christians engage the seven pillars of society—family, religion, business, education, government, arts and entertainment and mass media (the last five of which are known as the “marketplace”), they will never transform a city for the glory of God.
Guatemala is an example: while 54 percent of the population is Christian, drug problems and AIDS plague the nation. The reason is that Christians there are soul-winning but not discipling the nations, Kong explained. “We have to be faithful in consecration while remaining flexible in connecting with others,” he said. “True holiness is not outward.” Kong cited Daniel as the biblical model of a marketplace engager who stayed strong in contemporary culture while remaining consecrated in Christian duties.
He also spoke about the three spaces of Christianity. The first space refers to the church-based activities; the second space refers to the marketplace; the third space refers to the highest echelons of society in which the most influential people move, where a Christian’s testimony can sometimes have the most impact. Christians should not shy away from engaging contemporary culture but instead excel in their vocation, be an asset to community and get into the “third space.” “Authority over cities is not mandated, it is earned,” said Kong.
CHRISTINE PRINGLE: ACTS OF KINDNESS RELEASE ACTS OF MIRACLES
Speaking at the last session of the conference was Christine Pringle. Bringing a fresh dimension to the Christian duty of kindness, she reinforced that random acts of kindness open the door of the gospel to the unsaved.
While it is always tremendous to witness the supernatural and the manifestation of miracles, signs and wonders, many other things precede these radical experiences, and kindness is one of them. “There’re very few people who have the ‘Road to Damascus’ experience; many are ushered into the kingdom through a touch, a word or a gesture of kindness,” said Pringle. “People are won over by people. If we don’t care more about people than our ministries, our churches will not grow. It’s an art to be kind. The creativity of kindness is not to be underestimated,” she said.
With her trademark bubbly candor, she related her own experience as a youthful school-going student who was involved in the occult. When Phil, her husband-to-be, had a demonic encounter and needed help, they called up a schoolmate who was a clairvoyant, hoping to find relief. By chance, the girl’s mother, May, was listening to the young couple’s woes and out of her own initiative, called the Pringles on the phone and eventually invited them to church.
What was more touching was how May showed kindness to them. As the Pringles’ wedding day approached, May, whose husband was dying of cancer, took it upon herself to sew a wedding dress and bake a wedding cake for the bride-to-be. “The thought about doing something kind is random, but the follow-up is deliberate,” said Pringle. The memories of how May had spent time and effort to help her, remains vivid in her mind till today, reminding her to always extend the same grace to others.
With that inspiring message, the four-day conference came to an end. It was heartening to witness how God uses the Pringles and their fellow ministers to bring about a revival of passion to love people at every level of society.