Communique at the ICOCN Annual General Conference 2018 – Working Session
SUMMARY OF ICOCN AGC 2018 – DECISION POINTS
At the National Leadership Group meeting prior to the ICOCN Annual General Conference 2018, we spent a considerable length of time praying, begging and asking God for the direction he wants ICOC Nigeria to go this year and what should be the focus of the AGC working session.
We are convinced that God wants us to discuss the harsh economic situations in the country and how it affects us as leaders and disciples.
WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES SOME SALIENT QUESTIONS.
- How have these situations affected your faith personally, and the faith of your family?
- How are you responding to these situations personally? How are members of our Bible talks, family groups, regions coping?
- How do we as a church respond to all these challenges and still be faithful?
- How do we encourage disciples to overcome these challenges in areas of Evangelism, Discipling, Giving, etc.
We’ve heard in the news, how people are jumping into the lagoon almost on a daily basis (We pray that no disciple will be tempted to join this band-wagon).
Kidnapping and demanding for ransom has now become a lucrative business in our country. (We pray none of us or our siblings will experience this).
What about people being used as rituals to make money. Unemployment, income loss or no income at all, increase in the cost of living. The list goes on.
At the working session of the AGC, our attention was drawn to some of the challenges facing disciples.
- With the economic downturn, many disciples are giving in to compromise.
- Many are no longer paying tithes or offerings because of pressing needs and various reasons.
- Others have resorted to giving/ or taking bribes and other shortcuts in the course of their business.
- The brunt of extended family needs is becoming burdensome on a lot of us.
- Presently, it is becoming more difficult to show generosity. (Because of increase in wickedness, the love of many is growing cold).
- Disciples who give constantly are experiencing “donor fatigue”, especially small group leaders.
- Commitment to all the meetings is being compromised as many have to choose which ones they can afford to go.
- In short, in about 30 years existence of our church and despite our Vision/Mission statements to have churches and well-equipped disciples in all the 774 Local Governments Area of our country, we are just in 55 out of 774.
Please, do the mathematics. If we go at the present rate, it will take us 430 years from now to have our church in all the 774 government (but we thank God for Owerri planting mission coming up in July. Let’s make it a huge success to the Glory of God).
The question is, how do we react to these challenges without sinning or jumping into the lagoon?
The answer is to face it positively, with a lot of faith and action, because faith without action is dead.
James 1: 2-4 (the Living Bible Translation).
“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete”.
Are you going through difficulties of many kinds (economic, health, family, career, business, education)?
We should see all these challenges as a test of our faith, let us persevere so that we can overcome.
We cannot really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure. Let us see our struggles as an opportunity to grow.
Please, be open about your struggles. Share these struggles and temptations. We are asking leaders to create an atmosphere/ environment of vulnerability. Let’s not shut people down.
There is the need for constant and on-going prayers of different groups in all our churches. Pray for businesses and business owners. Pray for various health challenges. Pray for the poor, needy, middle class, the rich, the aged and elderly, leaders. Study God’s word daily. Hebrews 11-12 is very relevant at this point?
The economic downturn should teach us to be frugal, to live a financially disciplined life. Disciples should start thinking “what do I have, not “what don’t I have”. (Because your thought life will always determine your action life).
For example, a family may have an idle freezer. Start thinking of starting selling drinks as a survival tactic.
A family may have an undeveloped plot of land, start farming.
An elderly with a living room can start a day-care business. If you have 2 cars, start using only one till your economy improves.
Networking, trade fairs, pooling resources together should be encouraged.
There should be co-operation and collaboration amongst disciples in businesses.
Financial counseling at all levels must commence immediately.
We should seek professional counseling by professionals on how to apply for jobs, upgrade skills, and start up a business, financial engagement, budgeting, and health talks.
Benevolence committee to provide counseling for those who show a perennial tendency of being in constant financial need.
God is with us. He promised that he will never forsake us or leave us.
God will not leave you. He will stay close to you and I and help us grow and overcome all these challenges.
God bless you all. Amen!