Gary Thomas is one of the most respected and widely-read Christian theologians in the world. He returns to Break Forth Canada this year teaching classes in marriage, parenting and spiritual formation.
Why is it important for Christ-followers to attend conferences like Break Forth?
What I love so much about Break Forth and Canada is that I don’t see anything like this in the U.S. It pulls believers from all traditions and it really is a uniting thing to see that what we share is Christ. In the U.S. it is becoming so fractured - you have the Calvinist conferences, you have the Pentecostal conferences, you have the Emerging Church conferences. And I feel Break Forth Canada is trying to respect the diversity of expression of the church of Christ and bring a unifying impact. I think this has a really significant spiritual impact on the nation, church and for me it’s such a delight to be a part of it and honor to be asked because it is exactly the kind of thing that I wish existed more often, and I just don’t think it does.
Here's a question we'll be asking speakers featured on the new STAGE 1 venue: What's the one thing every Christ follower should know?
One of my life verses is Matthew 6:33, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” In Greek it keeps on seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. I think if we woke up and that was our attitude - if we are going on the offense thinking “what does it mean to seek God’s kingdom above my own, what does it mean to seek to grow in his righteousness” - just about everything else in the Christian life falls into place. This is because it calls me to pray, it calls me to service, it changes how I act in relationships. So for me this is just a framework that keeps me living the Christian life. And then what Jesus says afterwards, “and all these things will be added unto you,” I found to be true. That the other things in life falls into place if I’m doing those first two things.
You'll be teaching from your new book, “Cherish,” which will be released right before BFC. What inspired this latest book?
Most every married couple pledge to love and to cherish till death do us part. Every marriage book talks about what love is - that’s sort of the muscle of marriage. They don’t talk about what cherish is, which is sort of the poetry of marriage. I don’t want my spouse to know that I’m just committed to her. I want her to feel cherished. So, how does the Bible help me cherish my wife. It’s something that I believe can be learned. I think it’s the best soil in which to grow an intimate marriage. And it takes our marriages to a higher level. It’s not just about staying together. It’s not just about sacrificing for each other. It’s about how it impacts the way we look, feel, act and talk to and about our spouse.
As you know, Power to Change has recently been given the leadership of BFC. You recently spent a few days with Power to Change staff. Any observations?
I’ve been Inspired by the depth and breadth of ministries coming out of P2C. I’ve worked with their marriage ministry primarily, which goes back a number of years, but I think this was the first time I’ve gotten to experience all the different ministries. It’s just inspiring to see an organisation take such initiative and action, not [just] being defensive. They are trying to strategically plan how to make the gospel well known and I have found that to be really inspiring.