Here at BreakPoint and the Colson Center, we’re getting ready for one of the highlights of our year, our annual Wilberforce Weekend conference. I really hope you’ll join us.
But before John Stonestreet and I tell you more about the weekend, we want to talk about last year’s conference—because it was at that conference that Chuck Colson made his last public appearance, and left all of us with a final charge.
Chuck told us that as a result of relativism and the denial of truth, “our culture has been decaying from the inside” for the last 40 years. Politics won’t save us, he said, because “politics is nothing but an expression of the culture. So how do you fix the culture?”
Chuck explained it this way: “Culture is actually formed by the belief system of the people, by the cult, which is us, the Church.” So if the culture is sick, don’t think the problem is “going to be solved by an election. When you have a healthy cult you have a healthy culture. When you have a healthy culture you have healthy politics.
“So it comes right back to us. Look in the mirror. That’s where the problem is.”
I was emceeing that conference, and I remember the scene like it was yesterday. Here are Chuck’s final public words to us: “So I think the responsibility has to be taken by the church for a movement that will bring back the authority and the strength and the winsomeness of the cult, which then in turn affects the culture.”
And then Chuck began to collapse. My friend and colleague John Stonestreet was there as well. I’ll let him take it from here.
Wow, yes; thanks, Eric. As we were sitting there on the stage, we literally watched Chuck’s fuel gauge go to empty. He was challenging all of us, reminding us that yes, we must impact culture, but we must do it winsomely. We Christians don’t impose our views on anyone, rather, we propose—we hold out a better way of life, the great proposal, an invitation, as he said, to the Wedding feast of the Lamb.
But as he spoke, you could see his strength was waning.
I remember making eye contact with Colson Center President Alan Terwilleger. We looked at each other like, “OK, what do we do now?” Then we both decided to walk over to help him, and help him really just in time into that chair, and then get him off the stage.
And, you know, John, it was just like Chuck. Just as they were getting ready to put him in the ambulance, he looked at me and actually said, “Please tell everyone I’m sorry to have ruined their evening.” That’s all he cared about, that the conference go on and that people would be fired up to carry that great proposal back to their churches, and back to their communities.
That’s right, Eric. And that’s exactly what they did. And that’s where we’ll be picking up at this year’s conference. As Eric mentioned on BreakPoint last week, it’s getting even harder to live as Christians in a culture that not only rejects God, but increasingly and actively opposes religion in public life.
So how do we live as citizens of the Kingdom of God, and at that same time as citizens of this earthly kingdom?
In other words, how do we make the invisible Kingdom visible in the communities in which we live?
That’s the question we’ll tackle at this year’s Wilberforce Weekend Conference. Please come to BreakPoint.org and learn more about it. We’ll be right across the river from Washington DC, April 26th through April 28th.
I’d love for you to attend. Eric and I will be there, and we’ve got a fantastic line up of speakers like Baylor historian Philip Jenkins, theologian T. M. Moore, pastor and author Skye Jethani, and this year’s Wilberforce Award winner, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
And just so you know, this will not be a “sit and listen” conference. You’ll have the chance to interact with our speakers, explore our resource tables and innovation stations, and attend a “next steps” planning session so you can begin to put into actions the things you’ve learned at the conference.
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Further Reading and Information
Chuck's Challenge Making the Invisible Kingdom Visible: Take the Next Step
Chuck Colson challenged us at the Wilberforce Weekend last year to join a movement - a movement not to "impose" anything but to fearlessly "propose" something radically different. It was his last speech (you can read the transcript below).
That good proposition is one which will change our culture in ways which politics never could. It is all about the kindgom of heaven here on earth, even as we pray: "Thy Kingdom Come." It will take courage and vigor. Begin today.