Saturday, July 09, 2011
It's Saturday morning, and I'm sitting underneath the Arch in St. Louis reflecting on the events of the past few days at the 2011 North American Christian Convention held in Cincinnati, Ohio, from July 5-8th. Now, as the "Ex-President" and having officially handed the baton to Rick Rusaw for next summer's Orlando convention, I wanted to share with you the highlights of UNLEASHED: The Church Turning the World UPSIDE down. Hope you enjoy reading (smile).
Not in any particular order....
1) Preaching. Every speaker RANG the bell, and each message spoke to my heart. I will forever be indebted to the speakers for the time and commitment they gave to this year's convention. If you did not get a chance to hear them, you need to find a way to purchase a DVD set of this years convention. Powerful preaching!
2) The Shepherd Praise team and gospel choir. They are anointed and blessed. They led and united our convention with worship from the heart! I love you so much.
3) Diversity! I did NOT want diversity to be the theme. We wanted to show people that you can have a convention or a church service and make it diverse simply with a little intentionality. If each of our churches simply began to be intentional, we could change our lack of diversity in a heartbeat!
4) The offering. I am still teary eyed thinking that on ONE night, we received an offering of over $123,000. And then on Friday, when I announced that we are NOT taking up an offering because we did not need one, but placed a few baskets up on the front of the stage; to see so many people come and place additional offerings in the containers made me CRY even more! It was a moving experience! The total offering for the week was just shy of $200,000. WOW!
5) The book, "UNLEASHED": Getting all nine authors: Francis Chan, Jeff Walling, Dave Stone, Greg Nettle, Jeff Vines, Daryl Reed, Phil Allen, and Mike Breaux to write a chapter in a book and to allow folks to take the UNLEASHED book and use it along with the small group DVD study questions that our church produced allows this convention to have a much longer shelf life than a typical convention. You can order a copy at http://www.callonjesus.com/ or Amazon.com
6) Having the convention streamed live for the first time ever! Stories came from around the world of those who were watching and who had their hearts touched. Thank you for all the sponsors and for those who worked on my executive team to make this a reality.
7) The exhibitors who have such a global vision for the gospel. Walking through the exhibit hall always makes me WANT to become a missionary. They are such a big part of our convention, and it's in those hallways where we meet and greet so many of our friends in ministry.
8) Bob Russell's morning Bible Study. For three mornings, he taught about the Church in Acts. He is STILL the MAN! And I'm so thankful for his participation in this year's convention.
9) Standing with the LGBT community! After preaching on the importance of defending Biblical marriage, we were a bit surprised to see the Westboro Baptist people from Kansas picketing the NACC with their HATE-filled signs towards gay people and towards those who preach LOVE like the NACC. I went out and stood with the LGBT community and told them that even though I disagree with their lifestyle, that each and every person attending the NACC disagree with the hateful signs that the protesters were carrying. They thanked me, and we stood with them. Standing for truth and righteousness with LOVE is always the balance we strive for.
10) So blessed by the MANY who made the journey from Shepherd to show their support. Everywhere I turned I saw Shepherd people who were there to soak it all in. You folks continue to amaze me with your love and support. Thank you!
11) The man who wrote the letter about giving $100 when all he had left was $1000 with $4000 of unexpected bills. Your faith and lavish giving set the tone for the miracle offering. I need to visit with you on the phone, if you are able to contact me through our church office.
12) The opening night with the past Presidents on stage and praying with those who came forward for prayer on Thursday night. Just seeing those men, along with all the host churches and my executive team on opening night was just something that reminded me of our great heritage and history. Thank you to each and every pastor and past President for your faithfulness.
13) The volunteers. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOU! Everywhere we turned, we saw gracious and kind volunteers who served diligently. It was OBVIOUS that YOUR HEARTS are focused and committed to JESUS! Thank you!
14) Rapping with Anita Renfro. I am still shaking my head in disbelief over some of the things I heard that afternoon, but the icing on the cake was when she asked me to come onto the stage and rap. I am shocked there was NOT a MASS exodus from the Duke Energy Convention Center. Nothing worse than seeing a white bald preacher rapping at an afternoon session at the NACC.
15) The many stories from the local vendors and restaurants that said they had never seen so many nice Christ-like people in and out of their businesses. Thank you for letting your light shine and being UNLEASHED in such a loving way.
16) Interviewing Rick Atchley and Dr. Jerry Taylor during the President's banquet and hearing of the progress and the sacrifices that these two men have made with regard to unity and diversity. They are godly men!
17) Just want to thank the NACC staff again, the workshop leaders, the host churches, the past Presidents, the tech and service coordinators, my staff and praise team, Kay Moll and the women's program, the exhibitors, the wi-fi hot spot area and those who manned it, the banner of 6900 unreached people groups and those of you who began to pray for God to work through you to reach them, my executive team, all the churches that promoted and gave toward the convention, those of you that gave, those of you that sacrificed, Miles McPherson and Francis Chan and all our other speakers, the Freedom Riders and the volunteers. My staff and church at Shepherd. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL.
18) Lastly, my 4 favorite moments on a personal side note.
a) Handing out pizza to the homeless with Dave Stone and our families at MIDNIGHT on Thursday night in Freedom Square. I will NEVER forget that night.
b) Joining my family on Monday night for a celebration for my mothers 80th birthday. I love you, Mom!
c) Cam Huxford and I met with some pastors from Australia who came to the NACC for the first time and were looking for ideas and wisdom concerning getting churches growing and changing that part of the world. Truly UNLEASHED will have a global impact!
d) Lastly, when I got in my car, with luggage and family and shut the door, I began to weep uncontrollably, because of God's mercy in kindness in allowing me to SEE a vision and a dream come true and to see His hand at work and His spirit unleashed in one of the greatest weeks of my life.
Now, may God truly UNLEASH our church in a "Dunamis" manner!
Can't wait to see what God has in store for NEXT YEAR'S CONVENTION!
See you in Orlando!