If I hadn’t seen it myself, I would not have believed it. At first, my reaction was… no way! And then, it quickly changed to… are you kidding?! Then, it was… this is not possible!
For a couple of years now, there has been a group of pastors who lead churches with over 5000 attendees that have joined together to discuss issues that we have in common with leading large churches. Eleven of us gathered in Las Vegas, and our host was Jud Wilhite of Central Christian Church, which averages 18,000 attendees. Dave Stone, who pastors at the fourth largest church in America, Southeast Christian Church, in Louisville, Kentucky was there. Their average attendance is over 22,000. Don Wilson of Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix (18,000 in attendance), which was just listed as the fasted growing church in America, also joined us. The rest of the men were Cam Huxford from Savannah, Chuck Booher from Corona, Kevin Odor from Las Vegas, Tommy Politz from Amarillo, Tim Harlow from Orland Park, Cal Jernigan from Mesa, George Ross from New Albany, and myself.
The thing that made me laugh was that as everyone showed up, one by one, I noticed that they were all wearing black. Nine of the eleven were wearing black. Tim Harlow and I were the only ones that were not wearing black shirts. I actually took my dress shirt off because I had a black t-shirt on underneath my dress shirt, and so there were now 10 of us… all in black.
It really was quite comical. It was as if someone had sent out a memo, yet we knew that was NOT the case. As we sat around the room, we looked like a strange bunch in contrast to the bright lights of Las Vegas. But we were there to talk shop, not to be influenced by the culture of sin city.
For two days, it was a “yearning to learn” experience. I couldn’t get enough of listening and learning. Each pastor had questions and issues that he needed help with, and each pastor had things to share that blessed the rest of the men in black.
As I sat in that room, I couldn’t help but notice that these men had many things in common besides their black shirts. They all had busy schedules. They all loved the Lord passionately. They are all sold out on supporting and building the local church. They are all blessed with visions and goals. No one thought they had all the answers. They all wanted to be better. They all wanted to reach more lost people. They are all thankful for the Lord’s leading in their life. They all felt called, and they were thankful for the iron sharpening iron experience. They all had their own set of worries and concerns. They all loved their families. They are all looking to be better men of God. And for some strange reason, they all wore black.
Next time you see a group of guys all wearing black, don’t just assume they are on their way to a NFL Raiders game. Who knows, it could be a group of pastors who simply want to be better at leading their congregations and simply looking five pounds thinner during the process. Smile.