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Saturday, October 15, 2011

NACC Diversity: "A Giant Leap Forward"


NACC Diversity: ‘A Giant Leap Forward’

President Dudley Rutherford said, “I wanted to show folks around the country how to put on an event and make it diverse without diversity being the theme.”

By Darrel Rowland

Dudley Rutherford admits it’s his biggest fear: That the recent increasing diversity of the NACC will fade away.

“We took a giant leap forward. We cannot afford to take a small step backward. We need to keep pressing the issue,” said Rutherford, who has led the drive to bring more minorities as speakers and to fill other key roles on the platform.

Rutherford said he already has written letters to future NACC presidents urging them to continue the convention’s blend of races and ethnicities.

“Usually we put one African-American on the stage and call it diversity,” he said.

This year’s convention had four blacks in major speaking slots, with Asians and Latinos also playing visible roles in every service.

The second verse to the third song on opening night (“Shout to the Lord”) was sung in Spanish. Before one service, John 3:16 was recited in Korean, Farsi, Hebrew, Spanish, and English. Mixed in with the usual Chris Tomlin songs were some Kirk Franklin and other tunes more familiar to minority audiences.

“I wanted to show folks around the country how to put on an event and make it diverse without diversity being the theme,” Rutherford said. “All it took was a little intentionality and some perseverance. If we succeeded in this, anybody can.”

But he worries that the people who keep the NACC going year to year lack diversity themselves.

“I stood up before the continuation committee and expressed that I have served my term and one of you has to pick up this mantle and carry it,” Rutherford said.

One of this year’s African-American speakers, Daryl Reed, lead minister of DC Regional Christian Church in Washington, D.C., was chosen as vice president of a future NACC.

During his opening-night sermon, Rutherford apologized to African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities. He traced the lack of integration in Restoration Movement churches to decisions by white-controlled congregations immediately after the Civil War that blacks should leave their fellowship and start their own churches.

Nearly 150 years later, “not much has changed,” he said. “Our lack of diversity is more than a glaring blind spot.”

But without a change in heart—without a commitment from churches across the land to put minorities on their platforms, their staffs, and leadership teams—such apologies mean little, he acknowledged.

Rutherford wasn’t the only speaker to talk about the lack of diversity.

During the convention’s breakfast for Dream of Destiny—a national effort to bring unity through diversity—Scott Williams, author and pastor of LifeChurch.tv, said 93 percent of U.S. churches are still segregated.

During a workshop on growing a diverse leadership, Rob Daniels, executive pastor of Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, Illinois, pointed out that current minorities will actually make up a majority of Americans in a few decades. That means “the 21st century has to be the century of multiracial congregations” if the church is to survive.

Darrel Rowland is an adult Bible fellowship teacher at Worthington (Ohio) Christian Church and public affairs editor of The Columbus Dispatch.


Ultimate Freedom Conference


Today I was honored to speak at the Ultimate Freedom Conference. A group of guys who have been saved by the grace of almighty God. We went to the front of the church to take a group photo and I wanted to post the picture to let you see some men who are hungry for the word of God. Part of this group comes out of our BREWLINE ministry in the East Valley. I am understanding more and more that if we can get the men in our city living for Christ that we can transform our homes, family and culture. Would you take a moment right now and pray for these men pictured that they would, "before their feet hit the floor" each morning, serve the Lord with ALL of their HEART. I was encouraged to see so many men who had come from such difficult backgrounds to stand and boldly proclaim their intent on making Jesus LORD.

I want to thank all the men who shared today and please know that I am faithfully praying for YOU. In Jesus Name..... AMEN and AMEN!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Real "MEN IN BLACK"


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.