So What Am I Hearing? Post Cape Town Reflection

Alright, this is dangerous. I'm feeling just simply not ready to put things down on (cyber) paper yet. The Lausanne Blogger Network has been asked to write up some reflections post Cape Town 2010 and submit them before tomorrow, so here goes nothing.

I'm basically asking the question of myself that I so often ask other people, "What do you hear God saying?"

I got home only yesterday. Hugged my wife and kids. Talked. Distributed gifts. Eventually made my way to the bedroom for a nap. I had in my hand a copy of John H. Armstrong's new book, Your Church is Too Small.  Now this is a bit odd in my mind. I know John.  He lives in the same town as me.  And . . . well, can I just confess to you that in the past couple years I've secretly thought that John was going a little bit crazy.  With all his talk of "missional ecumenism" and everything.  I had been putting off getting a hold of his book.  In part because I have so much to read as it is.  And in part because I feared it would finally confirm for me that John really has lost his mind.

But here's the thing.  I'm hanging out in Cape Town sometime before one of the plenary sessions.  Out of nowhere, Phil Miglioratti comes up to me and says something like, "Hey Cody, I think you need this."  He hands me a copy of John's book.

So all during the Lausanne Congress, I've been hearing God on so many issues.  So many themes have flooded my heart and mind.  Diaspora, contextualization, priorities in mission, reconciliation, and so much more.  But nothing has been more overwhelming than the theme of God's Church.  I have never in my life had a stronger, fuller, or more intense encounter with God's Church than I did in Cape Town this month.  At one point, during the closing Holy Communion worship service, considering everything that the Scriptures say about the presence of God in his Church, I just stretched out my hand as if to "feel" God.  Thinking, God is so very here.

This is the big thing for me, friends.  God gathered His Church.  Granted there were people not there that could have been and perhaps should have been, but this was something historic and wonderful.  So, when I packed my bags late during my final night at the super cool Fire and Ice Hotel in Cape Town, I was sure to put my copy of Your Church is Too Small in my carry on.

I haven't finished it.  But I read half of the the thing on my way home.  Still hearing God emphasize the richness, diversity, and beauty of His Church -- the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  So yesterday, it made sense for me to carry that book with me to my nap time.  I only read a few more pages before my eyes started to get heavy with jet lag.  I set it aside and began a sleepy meditation.  I started thinking about the Church and how I had met God in the Church during the past week or so.  I thought about Alvaro, Ruth, Knud, Rekha and the rest of my table group, Paco, Binny, Tek, Christy, Sadiri, Evvy, Niove and others.  Soon my thoughts all sort of landed on one individual.  Which is odd and a bit anti-John Armstrong, but for me, my experience with the Church was all really crystallized in my experience with one sister from East Africa.

Here was grace, communion, love, edification, exchange of spiritual gifts, rebuke, fellowship, and joy.  But gosh, this is getting to be a long post and I really can't get into all the details for a number of reasons.  As I closed my eyes for good afternoon snooze, I asked myself, "What do I hear God saying through all these people and especially through that sister?"  I realize it would mean more if you knew the details behind it all -- another time perhaps.  But let me give you the simple and profound answers that are coming to me:

1. The normal way that God meets our deepest felt needs is through His Church -- This has come to me in a very strong experience this week of being met by God's Church in a critical moment.  I will really try to share the details later, but for now I will simply say that I was very much on the verge of having Cape Town 2010 turn into a total defeat for me personally.  But God intervened through His own Church and just rescued me.  I wept and wept on Sunday night during the closing ceremonies recognizing with joy that God had given me a tremendous victory.  And now, as I consider all that could come from this congress through my life, I realize that it is because of God's Church.

2.  Healthy and joy-filled relationships between God's people have Christ at the center and prayer woven throughout -- This doesn't require a lot of elaboration, does it?  Reflecting on why my connections with certain people at Cape Town were so joyful and profound helped me to realize that it was because we kept Christ right in the middle of every conversation and encounter.  And also that we prayed a lot.  I'm challenged coming back to do the same.  To look at my relationship with my wife first and then others around me.  How do I get Christ in the center of all these relationships?  How do we pray more?

There is more, but this is honestly all I can share at the moment.  This is just where I am right now and everything else is still far too blurry.  Keep praying for me as I reflect on all this.  I believe that God has accomplished and begun a tremendous work through Cape Town 2010.  It is very exciting to see fruit being born in my life.  I am excited to see all that will result.


  1. I am excited you got the book from Phil. Come on friend. You had to go to South Africa to get the book from a guy who lives 30 minutes away. How cool is that?

    Have I gone crazy? Yes, I think I might have. I have this crazy idea that Jesus really wants us to love each other and to love the whole diverse pluriformity of his entire body without compromise and given to us in Spirit wrought unity. I believe this will unlock doors like precious little we have seen and done so far. I am crazy to believe this could happen but I believe God wants me in real relationships with his people, all of them (or at least all I can meet and love).

    Since we know each other, and live in the same town, then that is you and me. How about you finish reading and we do lunch and discuss how this works for your remarkable vision of the church which blows me away every time I think about it.

    I am so glad you were at Cape Town and prayed for you too. I am glad I could give a little to help you go. I wish it had been a lot more but it was a faith gift I assure you.

    Keep reading and let us pray and talk soon.

  2. John, the book is really blessing and challenging me. Yes, I'll keep working through it and then I would love to get together. I have several thoughts and questions. Blessings to you and thanks for your friendship!

  3. Anonymous9:48 AM

    Deeply touches me. Both your writing as well as what I have now read on Amazon about the book. I must try to get hold of the book.

    My views are available on and you will see why this touches me so deeply.

    Praise God.


  4. Thank you, Arul, for your comment. Yes, I hope you do get John's book. It has been helpful to me. Blessings to you!

  5. A recent study of 1 Peter 2 brought to mind that we are all living stones, "being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".

    Recently experiences with a local church has been encouraging; that there is greater boldness in proclaiming the gospel as a community of believers.

    While I find myself a part of a local church, God has also over the past years given me a glimpse of how I am woven into the fabric of a global Church. Still a little overwhelmed and humbled by that thought.

    In addition, the various translations of Isaiah 28:16 (referenced in 1 Peter 2:6) offer much encouragement ... that those who believed in Christ as the chief Cornerstone will:
    - never be stricken with panic (NIV)
    - not be disturbed (NASB)
    - never be shaken (NLT)
    - not be in haste (ESV)
    - not act hastily (NKJV)

  6. Maggie11:31 AM

    I haven't read John's book...but the strain of thought coming to my mind as i read your entry and the comments is a statement attributed to Bill Hybels. He says that "the Local church is the hope of the world". At CT2010, my heart was flooded with the realization of how true that statement is. All the 4000 of us sitting around tables represent a local church some place in the world, and we all are or can make a difference, big or small, in changing the world each of us knows. And if we all did, every one of us is touching, changing a part of our world, then there is hope for this world after all.... Jesus started out with 12. and they turned their world upside down. 4000 strong...there is much hope indeed

  7. Vincent, I remember teaching on that way back in the TIBC days. I'm pretty sure there was a poster involved.

    Thanks, Maggie, for your comments. Blessings to you!