As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
“In no way are we trying to minimize the large doctrinal differences of times past”, organiser Nick Hall tells Evangelical Focus. 1 million Christians from diverse Christian backgrounds are expected to participate.
Hundreds of thousands are expected to celebrate the Christian faith in the National Mall (Washington D.C., USA) on 16 July 2016. The aim is to “come together with as many people as possible who believe Jesus changes everything.”
1 million Christians together in “a day unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change.” This is what Nick Hall, organiser behind Together 2016, hopes to see. So far, about 280,000 people and 1,000 churches have confirmed they will attend the event.
The event speaks of the need of a “reset”, because “our causes are pulling us apart. Even religion doesn’t unite. We believe only Jesus can bring us together.”
Renowned evangelical Christians like Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Louie Giglio, Samuel Rodríguez and Francis Chan are among the speakers participating. Musical performances will include Hillsong United, Lecrae, Michael W. Smith and Kirk Franklin.
AN ECUMENICAL EVENT?
Roman Catholics will also participate in the event, the organisation announced. Catholic worship leader Matt Maher is one of the featured singers and Pope Francis supported the gathering through a video message.
In June, Nick Hall visited the Pope in a trip to Rome, as he shared on his Instagram account.
The direct involvement of Catholics has raised doubts among some evangelical leaders, who fear Together 2016 may become an ecumenical effort.
Nick Hall, organiser of Together 2016 responded to some of these questions in the following Q&A with Evangelical Focus.
Q. Is Together 2016 an evangelical event in which Roman Catholics are invited? Or is it an event open to every Christian tradition?
A. First off, thank you so much for the questions. It's always great when people ask before they type. We are so thankful for your help spreading the word and calling people to pray.
Together 2016 is a millennial led effort to point people from all backgrounds to the uncompromised message of Jesus from Scripture. We believe that Jesus welcomes everyone and that Jesus has the power to change everything. He is the answer!
We realize that uniting across varying lines is difficult for many and in no way are we trying to minimize the large doctrinal differences and tensions of times past. That said, we believe the urgency of our times demands we link arms with as many as possible around Jesus as the way, truth and life that we desperately need in our world today. We are praying for a 2 Chronicles 7:14 moment and an answer to Jesus prayer in John 17, that we might be together so that the world may see that Jesus is the Messiah.
Q. What is the main aim of Together 2016?
A. We are praying Together 2016 will be a generation-defining moment where millions come to Jesus and are commissioned to follow him. Together 2016 aims to bring people from all backgrounds together for a day of unified worship and prayer, asking Jesus to reset our individual lives and the nation as a whole.
Q. Roman Catholic worship leader Matt Maher spoke about this event as an opportunity for unity between Roman Catholics and evangelicals. Some evangelical leaders expressed their concern because the event seems to have an ecumenical approach. Is Together 2016 an ecumenical event?
A. We understand that some are concerned by our approach and we humbly ask for prayers for wisdom in all of this. Again, this day is entirely about calling our generation to follow Jesus and go after the truth of God's Word. They say we are the most unchurched and biblically illiterate generation and we believe this day can be catalytic to see those things change.
We love Matt Maher and are so excited that he is part of Together along with dozens of artists and speakers including Michael W. Smith, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell and Francis Chan!
We are praying for a revival and spiritual awakening because we believe we desperately need a work of the Holy Spirit in our day and we want everyone to know they are invited to be there with us... especially those who don't believe!
Q. What is the content of the video message Pope Francis recorded?
A. Pope Francis was kind enough to record a video inviting young people to come to Together 2016 to learn more about Jesus. As his video is more of an invitation directed to the next generation, and because millennials reside primarily on social media, we opted to utilize this video through our social media platforms and believe it will be very impactful.
Q. Will there be Bible preaching during the event? Who will lead these sessions?
Absolutely! The entire day will be full of prayer, worship and messages from God's Word. Together 2016 will feature more than 40 speakers, pastors, artists and leaders from diverse backgrounds. Messages will come from Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Christine Caine, Louie Giglio, Nick Hall, among others. These messages will be centered around prayer, scripture engagement, sharing Jesus with others, loving others, and the Gospel.