By Clark H. Tanner
What a beginning! The first of the three North American Christian Convention regional conferences was launched on the West Coast on May 24-26 in the new $15 million worship center of Crossroads Christian Church, Corona, California.
President Howard Brammer’s vision for the regional conferences was for people to discover a spiritually fresh and meaningful journey into the presence of God. In his opening message, Brammer asked everyone to pray for God to reveal himself in a way that was beyond the planned schedule of the conference. We saw the answer to that prayer in a spontaneous time of ministry on Thursday morning as people were invited to gather at the front of the worship center. Many stood and prayed while others knelt and poured out their deep, heartfelt needs before the Lord. Tears of repentance were shed and words of confession were spoken as people came to confess their lack of deep intimacy with God.
The prayer ministry followed the convicting message preached by Tim Coop, minister of the Pantano Christian Church, Tucson, Arizona, on the “The Presence of God.” Every year at the NACC I am impressed with the preaching of so many talented servants of God. Again, this year, I walked away knowing we had been blessed with the finest preaching and teaching.
Shaping the entire conference was the heart-directed music of John Elliott, who led worshipers on a “Journey to the Presence” with Scripture reading, prayer, and singing. John’s style was just what was needed for a conference focusing on meditative, reflective worship.
An extra special event was an evening concert featuring the outstanding music ministry of Crossroads Christian. In the hallways and around the tables at meal times, conversations reflected how people were engaged by the teaching of Dr. Robert E. Webber, author of The Ancient Future Faith. He challenged everyone to take a fresh look at historical and sociological trends affecting present-day worship. He even spoke about the use of symbols in worship and the deep biblical meaning of baptism by immersion.
Obviously, the exhibit area for the conference was smaller than in the past, yet many people commented on how much they enjoyed the intimacy. I believe many new and lasting relationships were established this year. As people were leaving the last session, they commented that those who missed the West Coast regional conference really missed a very special and spiritual gathering of God’s people. I can’t think of a better endorsement. It was a journey into the Presence!
Clark H. Tanner, pastor with Beaverton (Oregon) Christian Church, served as western regional vice president for the 2005 NACC.