By Mark A. Taylor
Read carefully, and you’ll see there’s something different about this summer’s North American Christian Convention.
President Ben Cachiaras has done more than plan a meeting of substance with excellent content—although he has certainly done that. He has done more than inject some creative and fresh elements into a program that may seem the same from year to year—although this year’s new touches give everyone a reason to attend.
No, Ben hasn’t sought to polish an existing template. Instead he’s asked, “Suppose we had no North American Christian Convention? What do we need that a weeklong conference could provide?”
At least a couple of answers come quickly to mind.
We need a renewed call to mission. Ben’s assessment is as sobering as it is accurate:
Our culture is adrift. The colossal problems we see all around are overwhelming. . . . What’s worse, the church in America is losing ground. . . . Many congregations seem invisible and without impact.
This year’s convention is not about congratulating or consoling ourselves in some sort of holy huddle. Instead we will be challenged by the pervasive pain in a dark world that has not seen the Light. And we will be equipped to shine help and hope in places and ways we may never have considered before.
We need a renewed call to restoration. “Restoration Movement founders knew the church wasn’t built on a list of doctrinal statements,” Ben writes, “but on the living person of Christ.”
A living plant never separates itself from its roots, but it also is never satisfied with how striking or strong those roots have become. Instead it reaches toward the sun—always growing, always showing new height and breadth and beauty we never anticipated those roots could yield.
Again, pay attention to the way Ben puts it:
Our pursuit of restoration is more than reading preserved blueprints of the church, recreating a vision of the church past. It is about following Jesus, discerning how he leads us through our changing cultural landscape, to be the body of Christ and bearers of his good news in ever-fresh ways. Restoration at its best is not simply discovering what the church used to be, but discovering what God desires us to become.
And here’s a quote from Ben that’s not in his article: “If you have not been to the NACC for a while, you don’t know what you’re missing!”
That’s true, not only because of the experiences Ben has planned for us there, but also because of the vision behind all the parts and pieces that will come together this summer in Indianapolis.