Radical: Tell us a little about Secret Church 16.
David: “I’m really excited about the topic this year, “A Global Gospel in a World of Religions”. The whole goal of this topic is to think through, amidst all the religions in the world, is there only one right way to believe? Or are there many right ways to believe? Is there one right way to live, or many right ways to live? Specifically, how does the gospel compare with or contrast with other world religions? What is unique about the gospel? [So we want to] look at the gospel in light of other world religions.
But then also to think through, if the gospel is true, if Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him, then how do we share that in good, and wise, and compassionate ways with people of other faiths? [How do we share the gospel with] Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics? And this is important, obviously, as we think about Christ’s command to go to the nations. But the reality is the nations are coming to us. Most all of us live in places where we are surrounded by people or we know people who are Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, Atheists, or Agnostic (increasingly, particularly, in our secular culture). How do we share the gospel with people of other faiths? And so, I’m really, really excited about the topic.
And this is the first time we’ll be taking Secret Church on the road! We’ll be hosting it in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Hickory Grove Baptist Church who has graciously agreed to host. They have been doing Secret Church for years. And so we’re going to be there and then we’re going to simulcast it from there, hopefully to tens of thousands of people like has happened in previous years. We’ve changed around some things even when it comes to timing, just to be more accessible, especially to those on the east coast and then spreading across the country from there. People can do it at different times. I’m really, really looking forward to Secret Church 16.”
Radical: This year will be the 10th anniversary of Secret Church, which began back in 2006. Was this the plan along? Did you ever imagine how God might use this event for years to come?
David: No, I couldn’t imagine and that’s been part of the beauty of Secret Church, it’s just been kind of grass roots. It was just a few guys sitting around saying “Hey, we see what God does in brothers and sisters around the world, meeting at the risk of their lives. They are meeting together and they are so hungry for the Word, why don’t we gather together for some concentrated time in the Word and pray for them and try to set up something where we can create resources that can serve them?” And so, [we thought] let’s try it on a Friday night. Some people came and by the end of the night we thought, that went really well! Why don’t we try that again? And it just kind of spread from there, and then we didn’t have room for all of the people who were coming. So, what do we do? One weekend we did two [Secret Church gatherings] in one weekend, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night, which was one of the most unwise decisions I’ve ever made! It was so brutal doing Secret Church two nights in a row! And it was like, OK, we’re not going to do that! So, should we get a bigger place? But then, well, I don’t know if we should get a bigger place because what if more people want to be involved than that? So that’s where the idea for simulcast came in. So now to see 50,000/60,000 people or how ever many it is who gather together and do it from around the world and gather together around the Word for this concentrated time in prayer for the persecuted church and studying the Word, and creating resources in multiple languages to serve the church around the world. All that to say, that was not the master plan from the beginning, it was just “let’s do a Bible study and pray for the persecuted church” and we’ll kind of see where that goes. And, so, I’m just really, really, thankful for God’s grace in all of it.
Radical: The year’s topic is very timely, “A Global Gospel in a World of Religions”. We’re in the midst of what many have called a refugee crisis, there have been scattered attacks by ISIS and other Muslim extremists. How can a better understanding of other religions help us navigate the cultural and spiritual questions that are being asked related to these current events?
David: Well, there are so many different levels… One, there is the perspective level, even as we look at news… so we see news about refugee crisis, we see terrorism, we see ISIS, we see Boko Haram. How do we think through these things? Because there is a political machine, a news machine, that kind of informs our perspective on this in different ways but we need to make sure our perspective is being informed by Scripture. That it’s the Bible, and it’s the gospel, that’s shaping the way we think about refugee crises, ISIS, terrorism, Boko Haram, whatever, and just on and on and on. We‘ve got to make sure that our perspective on an every day basis is not being shaped by the world but shaped by the Word. And then, the way that informs, OK, how does that effect the way that I pray? How does that effect the way that I live? How does that effect my interaction with other people when I’m talking about these issues, current events in the world? And then, obviously, when I have opportunity to share the gospel with people from different perspective, different religions, which we all have opportunity to do in our every day lives. We just have got to make sure the gospel is shaping our perspective, our priorities on a daily basis and the gospel is fueling proclamation in our every day lives. My hope, and we talk about this at every Secret Church, is that people wouldn’t just walk away with greater knowledge of Hinduism or Islam but people would walk away equipped to share the gospel. And in the days come, would be obedient to do exactly that and that people would come to know Christ as a result of us gathering together and spending this time in equipping at Secret Church.