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Report from the LCMC National Gathering Part 3

Report from the LCMC National Gathering Part 3

Gemechis Buba

(a bio of the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba from the LCMC website is found at the end of this report).  

 

Gemechis Buba is a favorite speaker at LCMC events.  He is always very Biblical and very Christ centered and a joy to listen to.  He prays powerfully and is a man full of the Spirit and truth.  In my mind, Dr. Gemechis Buba sets the theological agenda and gives us the Scripture, the other speakers come along and tell us how to implement what he said.

 

Dr. Buba began by bemoaning the loss of many seminaries and Christian higher education schools to liberal theology.  Liberal theology, which believes that all people will be saved regardless of their commitment to Christ or how they respond to his call to, “Follow me,” kills mission.  If everyone is saved there is no incentive for the Church to “Go into all the world and make disciples.”  Liberal theology is now being exported to other countries in the world and it represents a great danger to our historic faith.  

 

In the Church, we need more leaders faster.  Our future depends on how many leaders we are training today.

 

We need to put more boots on the ground for Jesus.   Gemechis’s father was a pastor, a district president, in prison for his faith in Ethiopia during the brutal communist regime.   At that time, the church was in retreat.  Property was seized.  People were jailed or killed.  The communist government looked like it would last forever.  But his father never stopped developing leaders so that when things changed, the church would be ready.  It was people like Gemechis’s father that built leaders for the church, who God used to fan the explosive growth of the church today.  Leaders make leaders.  Leaders grow churches.   

 

Today, churches are “scared of the magnitude of the mission field.”  We must overcome our fears and move forward in faith.  Why should we be different than the Ethiopian?  We aren’t even in prison yet.  We must make leaders.  We must advance the kingdom and build the Church.  We must get ready for the future that God has in store for it will surely come.  

 

The theme of the Gathering was “Ambassadors for Christ” based on Paul’s concept found in 2 Corinthians 5.  

 

An ambassador, per the diplomatic websites, is a “chief of mission.”  

 

An ambassador is a master at building relationships.  An Ambassador for Christ must be a master of building relationships with:

With God.

With Host Culture.  This means we must understand where we are.  Protocols.

With colleagues 

 

How do I become an ambassador?   I must make an absolute commitment to the discipline of learning.  Ambassador’s learn - furociously.  Our primary teacher is Jesus.  “Learn from me.” (MT 11). 

 

An ambassador must have absolute confidence in his king and in his kingdom.  We do not merely compare religions like the liberal theologians, we promote our own.  We do what we do so that people meet Jesus.  We don’t want to be a “center for cultural Christianity.” Ambassadors need to be able to explain what their mission believes.

 

An ambassador must have an absolute obedience to the Scriptures, especially in times of trial.  Mt 4:1.  The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. He relied upon the Scriptures during his trials.  “Ambassadors are not to change/debate His policy.  We are here to implement his policy.”  “Thus sayeth the Lord.”  

 

An ambassador is ready to lay down his life for the mission.  The ambassador communicates the mission faithfully, even in dangerous environments.  Our mission is not to please the world, it is to please Jesus.

 

Jesus said, “the workers are few, harvest plentiful.”

As world population expands - 7 billion today - did we increase the number of ambassadors?  No.  We need to be like farmers - use combines.  We need to maximize our capacity for mission.  Look at the growth of the Church in China, India, Indonesia.  It isn’t the clergy.  It’s disciples making disciples.  

 

We’ve lost the thrill, art, ability of discipleship.  Where is the thrill in the church about discipleship?  What do we do at Zion with new believers?  We don’t know how to make disciples.  And when someone does come to Christ, we’re so quiet about our joy.  

The churches have gone to courses about discipleship but we don’t know how to do it.  We are living in a major discipleship crisis in the church today.  Teach us, Lord, how to do it.  We must pray the Lord of the harvest.  

 

Ambassadors have betrayed Him in the mission field.  Sometimes we believe we are smarter than the king.  We’re more educated than a 1st century carpenter.  Our scholars think they know more than the Bible.  Here we go back to where we started.  The future of the faith is not in liberal theology.  It is in preparing our people to make disciples of Jesus and releasing them to go and make disciples.  Thanks for reading.  PJ  

 

he Rev. Dr. Gemechis D. Buba is currently serving as the Missions Director of the North American Lutheran Church. He is originally from East Africa, Ethiopia and is currently living in Columbus OH with his wife Nassisse Baro Tumsa and Labsi Gemechis.

Dr. Buba received a Bachelor of Theology with high distinction from Mekane Yesus Theological Seminary, where he served as a Professor for two years. After working on his Masters of Theology in Church History in the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, he moved to the United States for further studies. In 2003 he received a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Christian Education from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. In 2006, Dr. Buba earned a Doctorate Degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, specializing in Missional Leadership.

Ordained in 2001, he has served as a Seminary professor, mission developer, Senior Pastor, Vice President of Southeastern Black Lutheran Pastors’ Conference, an assistant to the Bishop of Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, two term president of the world wide union of Oromo Evangelical Churches Inc., founder and president of Leadership Development Systems Inc.

Dr. Buba has led, chaired and lectured on multiple international events through revivals, leadership development conventions, theological conferences, evangelistic gatherings, church assemblies and academic forums.

He has traveled extensively and served across the nations of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Germany, England, Norway, Sweden, USA, Australia and New Zealand. In his journey across this globe he has ministered the Gospel of Jesus Christ in three languages: English, Oromo and Amharic. He has authored and translated numerous articles, booklets, books and produced materials for Christian educational use.

Above all, he is proud to be called a Child of God, which is the highest privilege and authority in the Kingdom of God. 

 

Report from the LCMC National Gathering Part 1

Report from the LCMC National Gathering

Part 1:  Personal Reflections in Praise of LCMC

 

I wish I could’ve taken the entire church to this year’s National Gathering of Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ.  Seriously.  It was that good.  Speakers included our National Service Coordinator, Mark Vander Tuig; North American Lutheran Church (NALC) missions director and consistent LCMC fav speaker, Gemechis Buba; Reggie McNeal, the Missional Leadership Specialist from Leadership Network; and 3DM discipleship guru, Mike Breen.  I’ll devote one whole blog to each speaker and what they said.  I want everybody to know what’s changing out there beyond our congregation and the changes are significant.  I think we’re living in the middle of an enormous paradigm shift within the church in North America.  To me that means that these aren’t the easiest of times but they could very well be some of the funnest and most interesting to be the Church.  

 

This first post will be very personal.   This is our fifth year as a member of LCMC.  This is the third year I’ve had the pleasure of going to a National Gathering.  Each time I experience such a sense of relief and renewal that it’s hard to describe.  But I’ll try.  

 

Why I feel such a sense of relief:  Things were so bad in our previous denomination that I felt either hopeless or completely isolated at every meeting or convention we had.  There was no sense of camaraderie, no sense of being involved together in the most noble of pursuits, bringing the Gospel to the world.  But now I experience just the opposite:  here are men and women who have sacrificed a lot for the sake of the Gospel.  Many have left larger churches in another denomination in order to serve smaller, struggling churches in LCMC.  Most are earning less than they did before.  Many are living off early withdrawals from their retirement or pension.  Some have no visible means of support, but God provides.  Many are starting new churches with no salary.  Many have been beaten up verbally by angry people for taking Biblical stands.  I’m so glad to be part of such a devoted group of Christ followers.  There is an amazing sense of “being on the same team.”  

 

Why I feel such a sense of renewal:  It’s amazing to me as I walk down the halls to see the joyful reunions of friends who haven’t seen each other for a year or perhaps more.  More amazing is watching people praying for each other in a quiet corner or just right in the middle of a hallway.  I love being a part of LCMC because we pray about every thing and believe that God hears us and will act.  

 

I’m still amazed that I know so many people.  It seems that many of my seminary colleagues have jumped ship and joined LCMC.  Those are also tearful reunions for me.  It’s like two survivors from some great disaster meeting years later, neither realizing that the other had survived.  “You’re here!  We’re alive!”

 

It’s good to see old friends.  One thing that comes about because of the unique culture of LCMC is that your peers are really significant in your professional and spiritual development.  Since we don’t have a top down structure and there is no one telling you what to do or asking you to do reports, this annual gathering serves as a way for us to report out to each other the things that God is doing in our lives and ministry.  It’s a chance to share our joys and our sorrows and our frustrations.  It’s a time to listen to others and learn from their successes and failures.  

 

Mark Vander Tuig said it best during the opening of the gathering:  “The most significant conversations will take place in the halls over coffee and we like it that way.”   Or something to that effect.  

 

It was great to catch up with friends.  Some I’ve worked with and some I’ve met at previous gatherings.  This kind of networking is an important part of LCMC culture.  This is where you find out who needs work, who is hiring, who is planning on retiring, who is planning on starting a new ministry, who needs advice and who has advice to give.  This year I networked like crazy and made important contacts with our brother pastors in Congo and Myanmar, both significant countries to our current ministry at Zion.  I also learned a lot from conversations about having a multi-ethnic staff and how to work with ICE to get an R-1 visa.  

 

Did I mention Congo and Myanmar (Burma)?  LCMC continues to grow abroad and this year we elected our first international member to the board.  Amazing.  I think about how different this association is from our former denomination.  There isn’t a sense that we’re to help those poor people “over there.”  Rather, those people “over there” have a lot to teach us and we are equals, truly brothers in Christ.  I love that.  I couldn’t help but tear up when all the international members took the stage.  There are now 11 LCMC churches in India who joined the association at this year’s gathering.  A new church in Myanmar (Burma).  Amazing.  Great things are happening in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia and it’s exciting to be part of it.  I imagine that one day, international membership might even surpass North American membership.  That will be an interesting and significant shift.  I can’t wait.  That will really help us understand the Church as something that is bigger than we are, a truly global enterprise.  

 

This was the second time we’ve met in a convention facility instead of a church.  There are simply too many participants for most churches to be able to host the gathering.  This was also the first time we’ve met in a city where we didn’t have a strong group of churches.  We don’t have a single church in Denver.  A few in the surrounding suburbs but not many.  So we’re meeting outside our usual enclaves and I love it. It was a great facility with easy access to the airport and the facility lent itself well to accommodating all the breakout groups and kept us well supplied with coffee.  What more could you ask for?  

 

I think a lot of the things that make LCMC so exciting come about because it’s a mere 11 years old.  I’m not sure that older institutions could re-make themselves in this fashion.  I hope I’m wrong about that.  Because the whole concept of being in a denomination has to change.  At one time in our history denominations had a significant role to play in spreading the Gospel and discipling people.  I think those days have passed and we’re now on to something different.  

 

The thing that causes me to grow the most each year at the gathering is the quality of the teaching and the topics addressed.  I get so much out of these talks.  And each year the talks seem to get more and more relevant.  We must be in mission as a church or we will cease to exist.  The association is pushing us into mission.  I think in LCMC we realize that a lot of our congregations in North America might not survive.  If it’s even possible, they got involved in doing mission too late.  But we believe that each congregation is significant and has a unique way to present a faithful witness to Christ.  And sometimes, churches might even be called to die as a part of that mission.  It’s amazing what we have the freedom to talk about in this paradigm shift.  I can’t wait to share with you comments from the various speakers.  God bless.  Thanks for reading.
PJ


Ramblings about God, the Church and Everything.

  • after Jesus’ own heart, 
  • with relevant, Bible based teaching,
  • with passionate and authentic worship,
  • of prayer,
  • with a heart for our city and the world,
  • where the love of our Lord is evident in the way we live and minister together. 

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