GO Conference 2020 focuses on God’s design for His Church

What does it look like for the Church today to live out its God-inspired purpose in a broken world? How are Christians to practically understand their function and purpose as a collective body of believers?

These questions and more framed the discussion of this year’s GO Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). On Feb. 7-8, 460 high school and college students gathered together to focus on God’s purpose and function for his Church. 

James White, pastor of Christ Our King Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, opened up the conference preaching on the Church as a unified body. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, our distinctiveness as the body of Christ is unique from the world in the way we care for one another. The body of Christ is also designed in a way where the weakest parts of the body are vital for the functionality and health of the Church. 

“In God’s economy, he doesn’t need the best parts,” said White. “In God’s economy, he can take a man from a no-name place, a carpenter’s son, a place you can’t even find on the map, die on the cross and change the world. Because he uses the weaker parts to change the world.” 

As representatives of Christ, members of the Church ought to function with a mindset that seeks to bring the restoration of Christ to bear upon a broken world. White further emphasized this point, explaining that just as Christ loved others on earth, believers ought to love others in the same way. 

“If you’re the body of Christ, that changes the way we function in the world,” said White. “Because how did Jesus function in the world? He came to set the captives free—you’re the body of Christ. He came to give sight to the blind—you’re the body of Christ. He came to touch people nobody else would touch—you’re the body of Christ. He goes to the places with unclean people—you’re the body of Christ.” 

Following White, SEBTS President Danny Akin preached on the Church as a temple. Based on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Paul writes to the church at Corinth that because the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, how the body is treated matters to God. 

Akin noted, “In light of where your body is headed, you want to treat your body as sacred today because it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit.” 

Members of the Church must remember that as those who have surrendered to Christ are no longer their own. 

“You don’t belong to you anymore. You belong to another, and his name is Jesus,” said Akin. 

D.A. Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship in Long Beach, California, kicked off the third session Saturday morning with a message on the Church as the vine. Preaching from John 15:1-11, Horton explained that our connectedness to Christ as our source of life will affect our relationships with others. This passage teaches that as believers rely on Christ for their source of strength, it will inevitably produce the fruit of the Spirit. 

“Fruit-bearing is the external evidence of internal activity,” said Horton.    

He also noted that a Church connected to the vine is one that lives on mission. Horton stressed  the importance of staying connected to the vine while living on mission. To do one without the other, he said, is impossible. 

“We cannot participate in God’s mission—we can’t go—if we are not connected to the vine who is Christ who is connecting us to the source of life which is God the Father,” said Horton. “We are to obey God in his verbal, spoken commands in the written Word as we live on mission, as we go.” 

Shai Linne, Christian rapper and elder at Risen Christ Fellowship, closed out the conference preaching from Revelation 19:6-9 on the Church as the bride of Christ. Linne noted that believers can understand their salvation in light of this unique union with Christ. Christ brings everything to the table. Likewise, this passage teaches that as Christ’s bride, the Church experiences a love that is sanctifying and tender. 

“Every blessing we receive comes as a result of our union with Christ,” said Linne. 

Explaining that Jesus’ love for his bride is one of exclusivity, Linne said, “When Jesus died on the cross, it wasn’t for this faceless, nameless mass of humanity. No, if you’re trusting in Christ, he had you specifically in mind.” 

Along with the main sessions, students had the opportunity to attend breakouts on several topics, including understanding church membership, using social media in a healthy way and opportunities to get give two years overseas through the International Mission Board’s GO2 initiative. 

The GO Conference occurs every spring and is a two-day gathering of students from across the country who come together to worship and study God’s Word. Next year’s conference is scheduled for Feb. 5-6, 2021 and will focus on wisdom and God’s mission. Photos from the GO Conference can be viewed here, and access to all messages can be viewed here

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