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Readers Offer Comments About This Year’s NACC

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by | 21 August, 2005 | 0 comments

These letters are in response to Mark Taylor’s August 21 editorial “Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” about this year’s NACC programs.


Treated Royally

(posted 9-7-05)
In regard to this year”s NACC, we had to make a choice, and we chose the Ministers/Spouse Retreat in Asheville, NC. We were not disappointed. It was truly a time of renewal and relaxation for us. The facilities were excellent, even with no television. The program was well planned and we were treated royally. Thank you for the special treatment and time focused on our marriage.
–Bill and Sandy Poling
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Via e-mail

Pre-Convention Factors
(posted 8-31-05)
Your article about this year”s NACC (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark Taylor, August 21) was very fair. I attended the Lexington event and missed the usual atmosphere of the convention.

Attendance would have to result, however, from things that happened before the event took place.

I can only conclude that they involve:

1. Cost
2. Lack of family events
3. The concept of a split convention.

Thanks for you article.

“”David Pape
Manhattan, Kansas
Via e-mail

A Great Ministers/Spouse Retreat

(posted 8-26-05)
In response to your August 21 editorial (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment”), I think you were probably pretty correct and forthright. Our people”s feet have spoken.

My only other comment would be this: as disappointed as (people) may have been with the regional conferences, my wife and I attended the Ministers/Wives retreat and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope we plan that again. We were challenged, edified, and encouraged as servants and, more importantly, as husband and wife.

“”Chuck Emmert
Cass City, Michigan
Via e-mail

Are We Willing to Learn From It?
(posted 8-26-05)
I am so glad that you have had the courage to help us face an issue publicly that we have only been whispering in ministerial circles (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment,” August 21). This year”s NACC was not a success. There is no shame in admitting it if we are willing to learn from it. I feel that this is important since the NACC has been a ministry that has been close to my heart since seminary. I attended my first NACC in 1977 and have attended ever since. I”ve seen a lot of changes, some good and some, well, not so good. Still, the NACC is important to us as a movement. Yet I found myself apprehensive of this year”s convention as I attended the regional one in Lexington. I especially appreciate your analysis of what was missing or what went wrong and I would like to add a few of my own observations.

1. There was little or nothing to offer our youth. I have always considered the NACC to be a family affair. My children grew up knowing that our vacation was wheresoever the NACC was. It was a family adventure. I noticed that many families were missing at this year”s convention. Were the parents to leave the children at home and come to the NACC?

2. There was a lack of flexibility of scheduling. This year”s NACC made for a great Promise Keepers schedule. We were all at the same seminars and at the same main gatherings and we even ate together. On the surface that sounds good, but one of the true joys of the NACC past has been the freedom for every person to make their own schedule. You could attend whatever seminar you wished. You could go or not go to whatever main sessions your wished. You could hang out in the Exhibit Hall or just talk to old friends. As I grow older, I find that communing with old friends to be as informative and educational as attending a lot of seminars. Remember, it”s supposed to be the connecting place.

3. The large exhibit area was missing. This is where we connect with our schools, missionaries, publishers, and ministries. This is where ideas are born. I confess, this is what I missed the most. There was a small one at the Lexington convention, but it seemed disconnected. Interestingly, this is where most of the people seemed to hang out.

I”m all in favor of change, especially when it is needful. Yet, I am reminded that when something is working, it may not be wise to try to fix it. I would suggest that next year”s NACC planners take a good look at the National Missionary Convention, which has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past few years. There you will find all the wonderful ingredients that have made the NACC the greatest Christian convention in the world. I”m looking forward to great things happening again at the NACC. See you in Louisville!

“”Jack Bowman
Cynthiana, Kentucky
Via e-mail

Too Expensive

(posted 8-24-05)
Now 87 years old, I have seen many North American Conventions come and go. And yes, I have attended””many!

From the 50s through the 80s I had a wonderful fellowship with the terrific leaders of the brotherhood. I interfaced with some of the stalwarts. Each one wanted the most and best for the least amount of money.

This year a “CONFERENCE” was held about 50 miles from us. BUT YOU PRICED US OUT OF THE MARKET!

Surely the present leadership cannot expect people on a minimum fixed income to be able to afford the asking registration fee! And then to say, “If you don”t pay the fee you can”t come in.” The convention has always been free for the asking. Sure, everyone was asked to subscribe but money was never a requisite before. Now, with umpteen sponsors we still need to raise and require fees?

The old-timers like “Pappy” Trinkle and his cohorts would roll over in their graves if they could see how the solid foundation has crumbled!

“”W. Manny Dieckilman
Huntington Beach, California
Via e-mail

Return to Single, Central, Powerful, Preaching Convention
(posted 8-24-05)
In response to the August 21 Christian Standard editorial by Mark Taylor (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment”), spreading out the NACC all over U.S. probably was not a good idea in this age of megachurches. Thirty thousand people gathered together isn”t enough to impress those large churches and their leaders “After all, what can the NACC offer that they don”t already have?”

Your thought of “being disconnected” in your editorial is not in line with the small care group philosophy. We should examine what connects us.

For years I”ve been able to brag in introducing the Restoration Movement to others, that we enjoy a free nondelegate preaching convention designed for fellowship, preaching, breaking of bread, and prayer. The attendance has reached more than 40,000 many times in past conventions. I look at “one large” convention as a show of strength to all American churches. I know this sounds a little vain, but being human. . . .

It could be that people who attend conventions are older and have always enjoyed the old traditional powerful gospel songs out of a faithfulness to the good news included with those songs. Maybe the noisy electronic phenomenon does not appeal to everyone.

Maybe the competition of who would preach or lead became a contentious issue. How many of the preachers and leaders were preachers and leaders from churches of less than 50 in attendance? The big important area preachers may not even desire to hear one another””an attitude that I”ve been seeing sneak into the churches from the colleges. Competition and contention within the music departments of churches have been problems that preachers and churches have had to deal with ever since Lucifer had to refrain from leading heavenly music. Jealousy, pride, and competition does not lend to humility and excellence or growth.

I cannot honestly believe that the church has been “dummed down” to where it would enjoy entertainment and modern, noisy music more than great Alexander Campbell-type preaching! What would be wrong with having four or five preachers follow one another with strong 45-minute gospel messages? Are we unable to comprehend? Or have we been being starved too long? What is wrong with convicting, convincing, reprimanding, and encouraging messages? Have the shepherds been starved by our Christian colleges and are not able to feed the sheep more than weak milk?

Let”s go back to a single, central, powerful, preaching convention! Churches of Christ and Christian churches have capable preachers to encourage and challenge the hearers. This has never been needed more.

“”Dan Brossman
Lander, Wyoming
Via e-mail

Other Possible Reasons
(posted 8-24-05)

I would like to suggest some possible reasons that you did not mention for why the regional conferences were not well attended.

1. There were no activities for young people over the age of 8. This would discourage families who might, as we did, use the convention as a family vacation.

2. There were no workshops.

3. The conference seemed geared only to ministers and their wives. Those of us in the pews were overlooked. There are more of us than there are ministers.

Including some meals in the registration fee seems like a good idea. Was that well received?

I have attended a number of conventions over the years, mostly because children and grandchildren were involved in some way. I hope more planning for them will be included in the future.

Finally, have you counted the attendance at the Bible Bowl in your count? There were 208 teams competing that had an average number of four persons per team. By including sponsors, chaperones, and visiting grandparents (me), that comes close to 2,000 people. By the way, you might consider giving Bible Bowl some more press in the STANDARD. The Chicago Tribune gave it more press than you did.

“”Lois Moorhead
Via e-mail

Discouraged and Disappointed

(posted 8-24-05)
The editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD gave some fairly reasonable explanations as to why the attendance at the 2005 NACC was so low (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark A. Taylor, August 21). Nothing that he said could be disputed. But one wonders if the thing that he left unsaid is even more pertinent, namely, that the rank and file of our people are discouraged and disappointed with the programs and the direction that the NACC is taking and are simply staying at home. From conversations that I have had with people in various locations, that conclusion must be reached. As a member of a major denomination said to me some years ago, “I have not left my denomination, my denomination has left me.” Could that be happening with the NACC? The leadership of the convention might do well to explore this possibility.
“”James Adkins
Selmer, Tennessee
Via e-mail

The Biggest Failing . . .

(posted 8-19-05)
(In response to “Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark A. Taylor, August 21) I agree that a major problem (with the NACC regional conferences) was the loss of the opportunity to see old friends.

(And) in California there was also the date, before most people plan vacations.

I”m sure the lack of workshops and specific seminars was a factor.

However, the one biggest failing to me was that there was NO CHILDREN”S PROGRAM! Many families plan vacations around the NACC, knowing that their kids will enjoy top-notch activities. We had no teen convention and no children”s programming. Consequently, we had no young families.

“”Chuck McKinney
Concord, California
Via e-mail

A West Coast Perspective
(posted 8-18-05)
I appreciated the comments in Mark Taylor”s editorial in the August 21 issue (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment”).

Here is one person”s perspective from the West Coast:

1. The timing of the convention””5 pm on Tuesday””was a killer for us in Southern California, unless we took half a day off to get to Corona. (Corona by the way was a great venue and Crossroads has an incredible facility!)

2. The issue of cost per family was a killer. Our young families were not interested in paying the fees to attend, to then sit through a service(s) where they would need to care for their grade schooler, junior higher, or senior higher.

3. If you knew people then it was a good thing to attend. But if you didn”t know people you were lost. It truly is a “connecting” place for those who know others, but there are a lot of our members in Southern California, at least, who know no one as they are new converts to Christ. So “why pay money to go to a place where you don”t know people, so you can take care of your kids who wish they weren”t there?”

4. Our church offered to do an entire kids program at the Corona venue, but for whatever reason that was discouraged and our free offer was rejected.

Let me offer some creative alternatives:

1. Have one venue at one time in the summer.

2. In that venue have a multitude of offerings. (That is how many of our already existing churches are making it presently. We offer traditional services and contemporary services””do the same in the convention because you are trying to retain the seniors, but you also want to open the door to the young families.)

3. By having different venues you can offer different styles of music which will meet the needs of both groups.

a. Have a meeting for seniors and have preachers preaching and music offered that will appeal to the seniors
b. Have a meeting at the same time in an adjoining hall for young families and have preachers and music that will speak to their hearts
c. Continue to hold the teen meetings with speakers and music that appeal to the teens.
d. Continue the complete and total children”s programs

4. Make the convention cost-friendly and kid-friendly. It might be easier to do it with the kids, and it might be more difficult with the costs””but whatever, balance those two and make sure that both are in place. That is critical if your desire is to see this convention continue.

5. Keep the convention in the heartland. I can only speak for the West Coast, but our experience has been that it is a grand idea to hold it out here, but in reality it does not gain the crowds necessary like holding it in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, etc.

6. In the development of workshops etc. Gather senior citizens together and hear from them what they want to hear in workshops designed for them. Gather up-and-coming young leaders and hear from them what they are wanting to see and hear in workshops appealing to that young family age group. Develop your workshops accordingly. Especially in the younger workshops have people planning and working who have been believers for a couple of years or less””in other words, continue to help the established body see the possibilities outside the box! You might be surprised how the workshops, classes, etc., would be supported. Once again, do in the convention what we have to do weekly in our churches to survive in this present culture.

7. Continue to invite people to address the workshops who are in the larger context of the body of Christ. All of us in the Christian churches read their books, their e-mail newsletters, and listen to them speak in other venues. Invite them to bring a fresh word to the churches gathered at the convention.

8. Capitalize on the leaders in the new church plants that are springing up all over our nation. They must understand their constituency and neighborhoods or die. These men and women would breath fresh air into ready hearts of those attending a convention.

9. One final recommendation: I would only hold ONE plenary session including everyone. All other sessions would be designed for the various “target groups” present. If a person wanted to cross over they could, but no one would be forced to listen to “old hymns or old preachers,” nor would they be forced to listen to that “loud screeching music and young speakers who are still wet behind the ears.”

Bottom line is you want ALL people to come together and have a great and fantastic experience. You could accomplish that in the North American by doing what many of our churches do every weekend in the offering of the various styles of services on a single campus!

Once again, these are simply one man”s opinion. You are doing a great job and I appreciate the fact that you are not afraid to deal with difficult issues and not merely sweep them under the carpet and then complain that no one sees it from your viewpoint. Keep up the good work.

“”Graydon Jessup
Fullerton, California
Via e-mail

Little to Attract Teachers, Elders, Youth Sponsors
(posted 8-18-05)
I enjoyed the Lexington convention as that was the one closest to me (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark Taylor, August 21). I must admit however, that if I was trying to encourage people from my church to come, what would have drawn them?

When I have been on staff at a church I have found youth sponsors, or Sunday school teachers, or elders, or deacons, and encouraged them to attend the workshops. But there were none, or few this time around. It would have been hard to ask folks to drive 400 miles, spend money for a hotel and meals, and not be able to offer them a more well-rounded experience. As for the music, I have learned to “be content wherever I am.” I have been all around the music issue the past few years and can tolerate anything for a week, if I am seeing old friends, visiting missionaries, sending my kids to Bible Bowl, telling the teens to get over to the teen convention and so forth. Anyway, though I thought the Lexington convention was fine and do not want to discourage innovation, these are my thoughts on a few reasons attendance might have been down.

“”Jeff McNabb
Greeneville, Tennessee
Via e-mail

A Trusted Resource
(posted 8-18-05)
The North American Christian Convention fills a very important place in the “personality” of the Restoration Movement (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark A. Taylor, August 21). It is the focal point of a movement that has no governing body or congress of delegates. It is the connection place on a national/global level. I have friends who are missionaries and ministers in other countries (Europe and Africa) who need to make the most of their expenses when they come to the States. The “North American” has always provided that for them. I”m definitely not a traditionalist, but I sense that the NACC continues to be a needed and useful platform for national and international contact. We have no other “vehicle” that provides this service/ministry. We do have, however, a very effective and growing network of regional organizations that are targeted to meeting the needs of specific regions and age groups. They have never impeded the success of the NACC and have probably encouraged attendance at the national level.

If the NACC format is “broken” or out-of-date, then it should be fixed. If it continues to provide services and opportunities that other organizations do not, then why disassemble it?

I have not regularly attended the NACC. As a former youth minister, my summer program often didn”t allow my going. However, I always knew that if I could see a way to attend, I could expect certain standards of quality in the music, preaching, and overall program. It would be a showcase of top-level ministry with opportunities to access programs and organizations in a short week that might take months to chase down back in my office.

Hence, the NACC has not been my “security blanket” in the brotherhood. It has been a trusted resource and predictable event of quality and integrity. To bring this event to a regional level has shown itself to be a mistake. The regional ogranzations “do this” better. It”s their turf.

I”m quite confident that the supportive numbers will return with the national format. I believe the anticipation will be that of great music, challenging speakers, thought-provoking issues, and equipping workshops. The global fellowship will pick right up where it left off. The regional experiment answered a lot of questions. I trust the leadership took good notes and will move ahead accordingly. I see no “mutiny” on the horizon. God is still on his throne and his people continue to serve him and minister to one another. The NACC provides an annual platform of reenforcement of this encouragement. The NACC should maintain a national/global platform, not because it always has, but because it is effective and useful at that level.

“”Brian Lakin
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Via e-mail

This One Didn’t Work
(posted 8-16-05)
I wholeheartedly agree with your first point concerning the North American Christian Convention”s regional conferences (“Learning From the Regional Conference Experiment” by Mark A. Taylor, August 21). I chose not to attend this year because I didn”t expect to enjoy the reunion, in part, because I didn”t anticipate I would see all the friends I enjoy seeing at such gatherings. I don”t object to the NACC for trying something new. Innovation is important. I”m glad we are willing to admit that this one didn”t work.
“”Rod Nielsen
La Porte, Indiana
Via e-mail

Additional Observations About NACC
(posted 8-17-05)
It is a shame the NACC Regional Conferences weren”t better attended. Although the content wasn”t as expansive as other years, it was some of the best in recent years. I attended the Corona, California, conference and felt the messages were tops and the music was worshipful and mellow.

My observation is that NACC attendance has dropped substantially over the last few years. This year”s decline was dramatic, and your analysis is “on target” as far as it goes.

There are a couple of other reasons, I think, for the decline in convention attendance.

First, the NACC has undergone extensive recasting as it moved from a “family convention” to a “leadership convention.” While there were always programmatic problems trying to meet the needs of the entire family, I think many families feel there is little or nothing for them now. Some women feel there is little of interest for women. The “man or woman in the pew” finds little that interests them.

Second, the NACC got into deep water with the purchase of property in Cincinnati”s Western Hills a few years ago, and the increasing concern for the convention”s fiscal situation hurt. In addition, rising costs and trimming program left many feeling they are no longer getting the most for their expenses. Add to this the expense of traveling from the “hinterlands” to “brotherhood central” and you can see why fewer are willing to “pay the price.”

Third, there is, in some circles, a growing dissatisfaction and suspicion of the “sponsorship” methods being utilized. While many younger people (or those who don”t know the movement”s history) see no problem with this, those who know how brotherhood colleges, publishing houses, missions, and conventions were coopted by the theological left wing of the past can see dangers. This, in turn, leads to a “I”m not sure what I think about all this” attitude.

Fourth, while I hate to mention it, some of our older brothers and sisters have been “turned off” by the worship style evidenced in recent conventions. This year”s conference music was the “exception to the rule” of recent years. Over the past five years (or so) the only convention that showed consideration to the broad makeup of the convention”s constituency was that held at Southeast Christian Church. Those who led worship here in Phoenix were bound and determined to “ram loud raucus Christian rock” music down our throats. Even Wayne Smith joined some of us on the very back row to get as far away from the amps as possible. I enjoy contemporary Christian music, but those who lead must understand there are still a large number of Christian leaders who serve congregations where such music is minimal. Many choose not to attend simply because they feel their experiences from previous years were unpleasant.

Those who lead need to consider their “target.” Not all who attend the NACC minister to Boomer or Gen-X churches. Wouldn”t it be wiser to prepare to influence through worship those who will attend rather than those who don”t attend?

“”Michael Hines
Via e-mail

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