by Steve Reeves
See D. Clay Perkins’s assessment of the 2009 NACC
See Thomas F. Jones’s assessment of the 2009 NACC
The North American Convention has been a part of my summers for more than four decades. The first decade, as a child and student, I was inspired and mentored by church leaders.
For the last 33 years, I have enjoyed being with former classmates, coleaders, and family. Honestly, those connections alone have been worth my time.
Now that I have become one of the veterans, I find myself learning even more than I did as an emerging leader in my 20s. Maybe I have a better handle on the questions to ask. Or maybe the quality of our convention experience is just getting better.
The 2009 NACC in Louisville, Kentucky, was a grace-filled week from beginning to end. Those who welcomed us at restaurants and hotels were warm, gracious, and helpful. Those who planned the convention itself delivered a focused week that was just what church leaders needed in this challenging season of ministry.
We learned that grace is more than expressing thanks for a meal, or even the central theological truth of the New Testament. It is something we can receive and share with others.
The preahing effectively drove home the theme: “Still Amazed.” President Jeff Stone, a preacher with a real heart for real people, demonstrated graciousness as he told why he was still amazed by grace.
Chuck Booher and Rick Rusaw shared, on Wednesday morning, practical ways their congregations are extending grace to others. David Clark passionately and personally inspired us to allow God’s grace to heal our deepest hurts and then to offer that same grace to all who need his healing touch.
Thursday morning was down-to-earth and practical as Rick Stedman cast a clear vision for every congregation to reach those around us with the compelling message of grace. We were then treated to an NACC first: dialogue preaching.
David Bycroft and Dudley Rutherford were a preaching “tag team.” They delivered an expository message from Acts 20:24ff that was concise, conversational, and clever. We enjoyed a video of “The Country Preacher” and “The Big City Preacher” attempting to carry the message of God’s grace to each other’s culture.
The point was clear: We are called to reach all people, at all times, in all places.
Thursday night, “Coach” Matt Proctor gave a locker room “pep talk” that had the congregation responding: “We will never give up!” Because of God’s grace, we can endure!
Friday morning was an appropriate conclusion as Max Lucado painted a verbal picture of the love-filled, grace-sharing life.
The workshops were relevant and extremely helpful. I attended workshops like . . .
Dr. Tim Elmore’s insight into the iY generation . . .
Ben Merold’s depth of experience on doing ministry while your heart is breaking . . .
Dave Stone’s take on team ministry . . .
Bruce Templeton’s honest perspective on preaching to a multigenerational church . . .
Each session connected with my own ministry experience.
So . . . the preaching and the workshops really were excellent.
However, the best connections are made through worship. Following the Thursday night service, we experienced a powerful concert with special guest Casting Crowns. While many of us were familiar with the group’s songs, it was moving to see people of all ages connecting to God in worship. Small children, middle school and high school students, 20-somethings, busters, boomers, and seniors filled the arena with heartfelt expressions of worship.
Here’s hoping that many children, students, and emerging leaders ended the evening expecting the NACC to be a regular summer destination for years to come.
But the NACC is still about the connections.
In fact, those personal interactions set the NACC apart from every other church-related conference. It is better than Facebook or any other “connecting place” . . . because it is face-to-face, it is one real-life connection after another with people who have a common bond: We are committed to reaching a 2009 culture with a first-century message. So we share ideas, stories, common needs, a common vision, and our lives. We see longtime friends and make new acquaintances. In fact, I’m convinced those of us who spent June 30–July 3 in Louisville returned to our places of ministry even more amazed at the grace of God.
I will be sharing practical nuggets I learned from this year’s NACC with our elders, staff, and congregation, and we plan to use the 2010 theme, “Beyond,” as a yearlong emphasis for our congregation next year.
Hundreds of our church members will be volunteers for the event to be held in Indianapolis. I am a better leader and our congregation is healthier as a direct result of the ministry of the NACC.
I look forward to welcoming you and your leaders in 2010 as God’s grace challenges us to go . . . BEYOND!
Steve Reeves is lead pastor with Connection Pointe Christian Church, Brownsburg, Indiana.