Church Leaders Encouraged to Rely on God, Not Gov't

Nearly 500 pastors and church leaders from across America were encouraged this past week not to depend on the government to tackle the social ills and crises of the nation but to look toward God and act as Christ's representatives.

"The problem today is not the breakdown of society," Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas and president of The Urban Alternative, said at the opening general session of the recently concluded Kingdom Agenda Conference. "The problem today … is that the Church collapses under pressure."

Evans, whose ministry hosted the four-day conference in Dallas this week, said that the Church is Christ's official representative to deal with problems such as economic uncertainty, natural disasters and broken families.

"We are called to minister to a culture in pain," Evans said, according to the conference's PR representative, A. Larry Ross Communications. "This culture is in pain on every level, and the pain keeps getting worse.

"The Gospel is Good News in a bad situation," he added.

Since Tuesday, 485 pastors and church leaders have been gathering at the Hyatt Regency DFW hotel in Dallas to participate in the conference's open forums, general sessions, and nearly 100 different workshops on topics including Christian education, counseling, discipleship, leadership, and worship.

Attendees also heard from speakers including Evans; Kenneth Ulmer, senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles; Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans; and James Robison, founder and president of LIFE Outreach International. Musical guests included Gospel singer Marvin Sapp, vocal powerhouse Vicki Yohe, and Gospel recording artist Anthony Evans, Jr.

In his address, Life Outreach International's Robison said that people should look to God to help in the midst of crises such as the stock market crash.

"We shouldn't look to Washington to help," he said. "We shouldn't look to the Hill."

Furthermore, faith should not be placed in either presidential hopeful, he continued, urging fellow believers to return to the truth, to unchanging principles.

"I'm not committed to a political party. I'm committed to the principles of the Living God," he proclaimed.

Other highlights of the Sept. 30-Oct. 3 gathering included the formation of the Kingdom Agenda Fellowship, an association of like-minded pastors, who, among other requirements, must complete the comprehensive training for the Urban Alternative's National Church Adopt-A-School Initiative (NCAASI) and adopt a school within six months of joining the fellowship. The NCAASI, based on the Urban Alternative's Dallas model, addresses the spiritual and social needs of urban youth and families through a church and public school partnership.

"The Bible is clear that spiritual ministry and social responsibility should work hand-in-hand," said Evans, whose ministry has provided training and technical assistance as its initiative spreads around the country.

"When the two are properly connected and integrated, people become productive citizens of society and are prepared for life in eternity," he added in a public announcement prior to the conference.

According to Bill Collins, director of NCAASI and vice-president of The Urban Alternative, the ministry's passion is that its program becomes pervasive in all churches and communities.

"We believe that only the church can rebuild the communities by improving the lives of public school youth and their families," he stated.

To date, there have been 17 training conferences conducted for NCAASI across the nation and over 600 pastors and church leaders have participated. The program is designed to help, train, equip, and motivate and excel urban youth and families. It teaches fundraising, grant writing, program development, marketing, and mobilizing communities.

This past week, 15 people participated in comprehensive training in the NCAASI.

This past week's annual Kingdom Agenda Conference, previously known as the Church Development Conference, marked the gathering's 20th year.

Next year's conference will be held Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the Hyatt Regency DFW Hotel.