Culture

Impossible Conference 2021: So much talk, but where’s the walk? Andy Byrd on a Church lacking in power

by Jabez Goh // December 14, 2021, 1:39 pm

Andy Byrd

All on-site photos courtesy of IMPOSSIBLE413.

“Everybody has an opinion, and those opinions are strong,” said Andy Byrd from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Kona.

Speaking on the second day of the Impossible Conference, he began by noting that we live in a time when everyone is conversing. Social media has only empowered this.

“Pretty much every nation on earth right now is having some level of very contentious political or economic conversations.”

As one of the key leaders of YWAM Kona’s University of the Nations, Andy has travelled extensively and seen how Christians feel pressured to be part of these conversations.

“There’s so much happening in the area of talk. But here’s what I would like to propose to you: The kingdom is not primarily a kingdom of talk; it is primarily a kingdom of power,” he said.

And that power is exerted through a people who are living like Jesus, observed Andy, who has also helped to birth YWAM ministries Circuit Riders and Fire & Fragrance.

While it’s important to have godly conversations grounded in truth, Andy believes what really brings change and transformation is an activated church. 

One that not only adds to global dialogue, but also acts in the ways Jesus would.

“Rather than just engaging in the conversation — which He did — He lived a life that was so compelling, so powerful, so transformational that He couldn’t help that people around Him looked on and went, ‘not only does He talk differently, but He lives differently’,” he shared. 

Andy also pointed out that what angered Jesus’ enemies the most was His acts of power that demonstrated who He was.

“I want you to be aware of something today,” he continued.

“There is pressure on you… to simply just say something. There’s pressure on you to… fit into what everyone else is doing in the dialogue.”

“There is an all-out attack of the enemy to create a church that is a church of talk instead of a church that is a church of power — a church living out the acts and lifestyle of Jesus.”

“There is pressure on you young leader, young person, to simply just say something. There’s pressure on you to kind of fit into what everyone else is doing in the dialogue. There’s pressure to not live a certain way.

“And I’m telling you the main warfare right now is that the Church should be more based on talk than it is on power and activation.”

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Turning to Scripture to highlight how important action is in God’s kingdom, Andy referenced a few passages such as Luke 6:46-49, James 1:22-25 and James 2:14-19.

“We have heard thousands of hours of great teaching. A youth group, our parents, our family, our friends, our churches, our pastors, podcasts, whatever it may be… we’ve heard lots of teaching,” he said.

“Hearing teaching is not the issue; obeying teaching is the issue. And that’s what James is talking about here.

“To hear the word of the Lord and not obey it is to look yourself in the mirror, in the face, and forget what your face looks like when you walk away.” 

Andy pointed out that James’ message is faith and action are one and the same.

“Our faith is what saves us, but it’s not really saving faith unless it naturally leads to an obedience to the word of the Lord and to good deeds that are the fruitfulness of that saving faith.”

LIVING OUT WHAT LOVE MEANS

Finally, Andy summed up everything he had said with these verses from 1 John 3:16-18. 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“We see a vibrant church community that absolutely brought transformation because they weren’t just about talk. They were about deeds, and they were about action,” he observed.

“This is the church that makes a difference; the church that changes the neighbourhood. This is the community that transforms the city.”

But what holds us back from such action?

What is keeping the world from being unable to deny that the Church lives out the extraordinary teachings of Jesus? 

WHAT’S STOPPING US IS NOT FEAR

While many may think the answer is fear, Andy believes the primary issue is love — or rather, the lack of it. 

“Perfect love casts out fear, and you could say that fear is the absence of love in a situation or circumstance… But the issue is not just somehow figuring out how to conquer that fear,” he explained.

“I think the greater issue is having a love that is stronger than fear — a love that can move us past our fears or even allows us to obey in the midst of fear.

“When fear alone is what we focus on, we miss the main point, which is actually growing in heart, love, compassion, mercy, a desire to see the lost reached.”

“Love, at times, is the greatest thing missing from the modern Church.”

In fact, the motivation behind Jesus’ redemptive mission on earth was great love.

“Love, at times, is the greatest thing missing from the modern Church. A heart for the lost, a heart for the broken, a heart for those that have never encountered His love or kindness,” admitted Andy.

So why do we lack this love?

Andy gave two possible reasons: busyness and distraction. 

“Sometimes we’re so busy even doing the activities of church that we don’t have time to allow God to foster a love and compassion for the world around us,” he surmised.

Andy added that while brokenness can be found in the media we consume, it’s easy to become numb to it because it has become entertainment to us.

“It doesn’t deeply affect our hearts to go, ‘this isn’t okay, I’m entertaining myself with it,'” he said.

“Not only should I not do that, but what am I doing to make a difference in a world that is suffering, that is broken, that is hurting, that is waiting for a Messiah?”

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To inspire us to have the love of Jesus, Andy proceeded to share two stories. 

The first was from Mark 4 and 5. Zooming in on Mark 4:35-41, he touched on how we often overlook the real danger the disciples went through when we read this passage.

Since many of the disciples were fishermen, the water was where they lived and had their livelihood. 

“They understood how those storms worked,” said Andy.

And yet, when they found themselves on a boat in a raging storm, they felt that they were going to die. Clearly, it wasn’t a small storm, he explained.

Moving on to the second half of the story in Mark 5, Andy pointed out that Jesus and His disciples went through such an ordeal for just one person.

They cross a lake in the middle of the night in a storm, only to land in a graveyard in a Gentile region where a man with an impure spirit comes out to meet them.

“Now this man lived in the tombs, no one could bind him anymore… night and day among the tombs and in the hills, he would cry out and would cut himself with stones,” said Andy.

“It might easily be said that in the entirety of the New Testament, this is the most impossible situation. (He) might be considered the hardest, most unlikely person to get saved.”

But as we all know, the man gets saved. Plus those who witnessed this became so scared of Jesus’ power they sent Him away. 

EVEN ONE PERSON IS WORTH IT

“This is why this story is so important to me, (and) in the modern church,” explained Andy.

“Jesus has a huge crowd in front of him… but instead of continuing the meetings and prolonging them and getting everyone to stay longer and you know, setting up a movement and a ministry, Jesus looks to His disciples and goes: It’s been great to hang with the crowd, but I’ve got another mission in mind right now.”

All that for one man — one conversation that didn’t even seem long to have.

“All of a sudden He’s back in the boat crossing all the way back across the lake. And for Jesus, it was completely worth it,” said Andy.

Jesus was activated because of love, he added.

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The second story Andy shared was from his own experience when he and his team went to the Himalayas.

“We started trekking… and honestly it was gruelling. Our legs and lungs were on fire. We had backpacks full of Bibles, projectors and food, so it was tough.”

When they finally reached a remote village, they were shocked to see only six houses. 

“Then I felt something maybe I had never really felt before until this moment,” he shared.

“I remember looking down at that… and I felt one little drop of His heart land in my heart. And all I could find myself thinking about as we walked towards that village is ‘they’re so worth it’.

“These people are so worth every bit of effort, every bit of time and every bit of finances — that they would have the chance to hear the good news of Jesus.”

But the story doesn’t end there.

While they were at the village, Andy met a man who smiled with his entire face. He shared the gospel with this man before moving on with their trek.

A year later, the organisation that donated those Bibles sent a team to find out what happened with their Bibles and collated some stories for their quarterly magazine.

When Andy came across that magazine, he was stunned. 

“The picture on the cover of the magazine was this man, (with a) smiley face and a huge basket of Bibles on his back because now he was trekking into the whole region, taking Bibles to people that had never heard the name of Jesus.”

At that moment, he could not help but remember that little thought he had: these people are so worth it.

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Wanting to conclude with this story, Andy’s hope was that as we, young Singaporeans, walk through our classrooms and neighbourhoods, we too would have this same thought with the people we meet: they are so worth it.

Of course, this may not come naturally for some of us. Hence, Andy ended with a prayer to God for help:

“Holy Spirit, I’m praying right now, would you download your heart into their hearts? Would you… reveal to them your love for a lost and broken world around us and grip them with compassion?

“I ask right now you would bring a name or a face to their minds, someone in their lives that all of a sudden would become worth it. Worth the effort. Worth the embarrassment. Worth the boldness. Worth overcoming fear.

“Fill my friends with your overflowing extravagant love, that they would obliterate fear not by focusing on fear, but by filling their hearts with your love.

“God, we ask for a radical group of Singaporean young people who would rise up with audacious, overcoming love, and they would hear this voice in the back of their minds: ‘they are so worth it’. Bless these guys. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


Missed the Impossible Conference? You can still catch up on the sessions by heading over to Impossible 413’s YouTube page or read our coverage of Day 1 here:

Wanna do the impossible for God? Slow down first, says Francis Chan at Impossible Conference 2021

Finally, if you want to watch the livestream for Andy Byrd’s message, here’s the recording below!

THINK + TALK

  1. How much time do you spend on talk vs action?
  2. Besides busyness and distraction, are there any other reasons you may lack the motivation of love? 
  3. What are some small, practical ways you can begin to love others?
  4. Who came to your mind when Andy prayed? Ask God to give you the love needed, so you can think that person is worth it. 
About the author

Jabez Goh

Jabez loves consuming international media, such as Japanese manga, Korean dramas, and Western tabletop games. Locally, he loves creating media content through writing.