London church leaders challenged with call to holiness

Dr Crawford Loritts addresses London pastors at an evangelism summit hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.(Photo: BGEA UK)

Over 1,000 church leaders from across London gathered near the O2 in London on Monday to think afresh about the call to evangelism. 

It was the last of four evangelism summits hosted across the UK by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to explore issues like Church witness, unity, discipleship and defending the Gospel. 

In a sobering address calling the Church back to holiness, Dr Crawford Loritts expressed sadness over the number of pastors and ministry leaders who have fallen into sin and have therefore "discredited the cause of Christ".

The pastor and church planter said too many leaders "know how to look spiritual", yet "are living in quiet desperation" with a "comfortable disobedience", having "shrunk back from accountability" while seeking simply to "manage their sin rather than repent of their sin". 

He urged pastors to put holiness before talents and giftings, and "pay close attention" to the "nooks and crannies" of their life. 

"Your character must be greater than the platform you stand on," he said. 

He also called on church leaders not to "shortcut your own intimacy with God" just because they have a successful ministry and followers. 

"Just because you are doing ministry, doesn't mean God is doing ministry in you," he said. 

Dr Loritts concluded with a call to church leaders to stop judging others for their shortcomings and instead repent of their own sins. 

"Revival is expensive and one of the reasons we're not seeing revival is because we don't want to embrace our brokenness," he said. 

"[We need to] let the tears of repentance fall down our own cheeks, identifying with the brokenness of society, and realising that the Spirit of God has left the building and many of our churches and many of our ministries because we've accommodated nonsense in our hearts and lives ... and we've sanctified this comfortable disobedience."

He added, "It's time for all of us to fall on our knees." 

In another hardhitting address, the Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos, appealed to church leaders to put aside "tribalism" and "making tactical points", which he said was damaging the Church's witness. 

"Let us stop demonising one another," he said.

Archbishop Angaelos appealed for unity.(Photo: BGEA UK)

"There is a cost to unity, because the easiest thing in the world is for us to be tribal. This concept of 'othering' is so prevalent these days and it's bad enough when it's in the secular world. When it's in the Church and we 'other' each other, we undermine each other's witness and we take away from each other's experience." 

But he also urged Christians to think about how they communicate the Gospel. 

"Our message must be given in a way that it is heard and accepted - which gives joy," he said.

"Some of us have grown up with fire and brimestone preaching. I fear that generations now will just turn their backs on that quite quickly.

"There's enough fire and brimstone in the world, they don't need to hear about it in our churches. In our churches they need to see hope and light and love and promise.

"They need to see that God is their God, regardless of what they have done or what they will ever do, and that they will always be welcome back." 

Exploring the theme of discipleship, evangelical pastor and writer Skip Heitzig said the challenge for Christians was to live a life of sacrifice and self-denial at a time when many just want to "dabble in spirituality". 

"Social media has changed how we define a follower," he said. 

"The word 'like', which we know means to enjoy, in social media parlance means to acknowledge someone electronically. 

"To be a friend in English means to have a bond of mutual affection with somebody else, but in social media it just means to be added to a list of contacts. 

"To follow someone means you go after someone; it means you subscribe to their beliefs. But in social media, it just means you get updates on a mobile device. They may not follow you, they may not even like you, but they will stalk you on your Instagram or Twitter account." 

He continued, "We who are followers of Jesus Christ, we who are friends of Him, we who are likers of the truth, need to get back to the original idea, because I have a hunch that Jesus has a lot of fans but not a lot of followers." 

He added, "Jesus never said follow me on Instagram, like me on Facebook. He said give up your life completely and follow after me."