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National Campaign Of Hope Gives New Vision To Mainline Renewalists/Evangelicals

National Campaign Of Hope Gives New Vision To Mainline Renewalists and Evangelicals


For years, the mainline renewal groups have found themselves in one battle after another reacting to the latest problems emanating from their respective denominational headquarters. Like shell shocked troops, they have often found themselves war weary with no "V Day" in sight. Pastors and church members who were tired of the endless cycle of "reaction without traction" sought their own relief by "voting with their feet" in an attempt to find some measure of relief. Others stayed, but still felt their efforts were frequently aimless and often pointless.

They're not alone. Many leaders serving in evangelical denominations that were once fondly viewed by mainline renewalists as "safe theological harbors" are finding themselves fearful that their own evangelical churches are in danger of watering down the Good News of Jesus. Some honestly wonder aloud if these former evangelical strongholds will not die out themselves unless there is a radical reversal - soon.

Both groups need a dramatic turnaround quickly. The latest methodological gimmicks, mega church programs, position papers or even a new denominational name on the door are inadequate for the task ahead. Termite infested houses don't recover from a new coat of whitewash... but they sometimes can be salvaged by a new foundation and steel reinforcements that are impervious to the rot. For the church, that requires a massive injection of HOPE - if that hope is found in Jesus Christ, of course.

David Bryant's National Campaign of Hope offers a positive and thrilling way forward for evangelicals of every stripe, mainline or otherwise. With a message reminiscent of Jonathan Edwards, Bryant calls us beyond our preoccupation with methodology, our addiction to cults of personality, and even our trepidation from the fear of man so that we may once again gaze upon the exalted Christ in His Supremacy. Bryant's call is found in the handbook for the Campaign entitled "Christ Is All: A Joyful Manifesto On The Supremacy Of God's Son" . Bryant's high Christology focuses on Jesus' Ascension as the key to understanding Christ's present day ministry as history progresses towards the Consummation. But don't let the prospect of reading "theology" dissuade you... Byrant's message is conveyed in a clear vibrant prose that moves the reader beyond speculation to worship and, God willing, faithful action.

While some evangelicals will spend the next few years contenting themselves with more speculation on the timing of the rapture, bemoaning further heresy-creep within the church, or otherwise continue in the unproductive holding patterns we find ourselves in today, the National Campaign of Hope offers a better alternative. Bryant's focus on the Supreme Christ helps us move beyond what distracts and divides us as evangelicals while promoting what is the inheritance of orthodoxy from time immemorial: the Glories of the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ, the unique and only Savior of the World. In uniting around Jesus Christ in worship, we can be set free from our disobedience, our coldness, our despair and our prayerlessness. Surely in the light of Jesus Christ, our distractions and sorrows are seen in their true insignificance, and we are equipped to pursue what matters the most - exalting our Lord. Bryant often speaks of the God-given, growing transformation his efforts foster within a wide spectrum of churches served by his campaign as a "nationwide Christ-awakening movement".

Bryant doesn't offer us a new curriculum to buy into, a new methodology to master, or a new vocabulary to define us. In 50 years, the material from the National Campaign of Hope will be relevant because Jesus is timeless in His relevance. So instead of offering the quick fixes and fads that plague evangelicalism, Bryant offers us Christ again in all His glory and invites us to fall in love with our Lord again. Christ is All does not break new ground in terms of introducing concepts previously absent from biblical orthodoxy. Instead, the work breaks up the fallow ground with a fresh synthesis of that wonderful orthodoxy that is our common inheritance in the mainline and out but which has too often grown cold and uninspiring to us.

Bryant has produced an easily read Christology that moves beyond simply defining theological terms and merely rehashing the historical timeline of Christ's self-revelation as if describing unrelated pieces of a puzzle. He has presented Christians with a paradigm for understanding every aspect of our Lord's work from the standpoint of the Ascension and His present Reign at the Father's right hand. Bryant delights in telling who Jesus Christ is: "TO us, FOR us, OVER us, BEFORE us, WITHIN us, THROUGH us and UPON us." By unfolding the Supremacy of Christ in this way, suddenly we recognize that any genuine hope we may have is tied to the kingdom of our Lord. That's a vital connection we too often miss. Our lack of hope, our dwindling vision, and our preoccupation with maintenance instead of advance are directly tied to our low estimation of Jesus as truly being the "High King of Heaven", in the words of the hymn Be Thou My Vision.

Bryant's high Christology might even leave you wondering if today's "missional" emphases are wrong-headed to the degree they are preoccupied with the incarnation of our Lord to the virtual exclusion of any discussion of His supremacy. To be sure, we are called to emulate Christ in His servanthood and humility. The point Bryant would make is that we are only willing to sacrifice our lives, only able to stop living for the pleasures of this world, and only desirous of truly following Christ when, like Saul turned Paul, we are confronted by Christ in His glory and might. Bryant's book seeks to bring us to that point of awe where we are finally ignited with a passion for Christ Himself. Bryant yearns for his readers to finally and permanently ask how they can fit into Jesus' plans instead of wasting their lives trying to fit Jesus into their plans.

While the National Campaign of Hope is not a new methodology per se, it is nonetheless methodologically sound. For mainline renewal groups who find themselves strapped for resources and unsure how to mobilize their grassroots with a positive message, Bryant's book distills the wisdom he's obtained in mobilizing prayer world wide for many decades. Because the Supremacy of Christ is a pervasive Biblical theme, "joining" the National Campaign of Hope is not so much joining Bryant as in renewing our walk with Jesus Christ in all His wonder. The book can be effectively used as the text for small group "Christ Huddles". Likewise it may serve as a guide book for those "Messengers of Hope" who are able formally or informally to expound those passages throughout the scriptures that relate to our Lord's Supremacy. Weary preachers and teachers will simply enjoy having the "old, old story" put in a new framework that dramatically presents Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of "Everything... that is written about [Him] in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44 NIV) They'll quickly find their sermons and lesson plans infused with new, Christ honoring, energy. Putting this book in the hands of renewalists nationwide and encouraging it's faithful consideration is a strategy well worth the effort if we ever hope to break out of our current deadness by focusing on the One who truly matters. The question is - will we?

Mainliners too often have a severe inferiority complex when it comes to embracing initiatives they perceive as originating from strangers to their mainline reality. Some have even been known to call mainline churches giving evangelicals from the "outside" a warm welcome as "unfaithful to the denomination". That xenophobia is exactly why mainline renewalists may wish to embrace the National Campaign of Hope. David Bryant calls The Presbyterian Church at New Providence, NJ his spiritual "home". The Presbyterian Church at New Providence is a mainline congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Confessing Church. He's "one of us", in other words, and mainline renewalists can feel comfortable recommending this valuable resource. As the National Campaign of Hope's Ministry Profile notes, one of the goals is for evangelical churches nationwide to pay as much attention to Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday as they currently do to Christmas and Resurrection Sunday. Most mainline churches already do that! It's not that we want bragging rights if this would happen, but isn't it nice to realize we have a message about Christ that our brothers and sisters outside the mainline might benefit from hearing? Thankfully David Bryant his reminded us that we just might have something to offer.

Well known for organizing Concerts of Prayer International in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards' call for united prayer, Bryant is well known by the evangelical community in and outside the mainline for promoting united prayer. Currently David Bryant is pursuing the mission of the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN OF HOPE within the student world as he chairs the Board of Directors for PARADISE, an unprecedented, nationwide, multi-denominational movement among young people toward a deeper awakening and commitment to the full extent of Christ's supremacy. Visit: PARADISE08.com


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