By Mark A. Taylor
It’s difficult to remember a North American Christian Convention that so captured the imagination of our people. Last year’s was a convention we wanted to attend, because we believed something historic would happen there. Not only would a great call to unity symbolize a new beginning among instrumental and a cappella Restoration Movement churches, it would actually demonstrate it.
We flocked to the convention because we believed many who had separated themselves from us would now join us. And they did. At least a thousand members of a cappella churches attended in Louisville, amid exhortations to unity and promises of unity. In a world characterized by religious division and animosity, the whole week was a breath of fresh air. In fact, many said it was the best NACC ever.
But it seems to me this year’s convention could or should produce equal excitement. This year we’re talking about the rightful product of unity evangelism. And we’re not only talking about evangelism, we’re going to take new steps to see it happen.
In a way this is only natural. When Christ spoke his oft quoted prayer for unity, he did not seek unity as an end in itself: “I pray . . . that all of them may be one . . . so that the world may believe” (John 17:20, 21).
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on unity alone, instead of where unity is supposed to lead us. Sometimes we get so happy with each other we forget the lost world God placed us here to reach.
Sometimes a local church’s strong arms of unity form a barrier keeping newcomers outside. “Oh, the folks down at First Church really love each other,” we say with a self satisfied smile. But sometimes fellowship degenerates into a clique like club that serves mainly itself.
Convention president Alan Ahlgrim argues persuasively that “It’s Time” for our churches to get past that. This summer’s NACC can become a catalyst for allowing us to experience the fruit of unity, a harvest of new Christians.
When that happens, we’ll say it was the best convention ever!
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