By Herb Botts
“If you build it, he will come!”
You might remember that line from the movie Field of Dreams, a mystical presentation about a novice Midwestern farmer who loves baseball so much he builds an actual ball field in the midst of his cornstalks and watches the “greats” of the past gather and play.
I believe I can honestly say the folks of the North American Christian Convention are in a similar building process, creating something wonderful and inviting all of us to come. The NACC is offering a program that mirrors God’s Holy Word, to draw “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, New Living Translation).
The NACC has been around many years; it precedes my birth and probably yours. When launched, the NACC admittedly was very Anglo-Saxon in programming, outreach, and appeal. But grumbling about that, or being angry that the NACC may not have reached out to others as quickly as some thought it should have done is tantamount to holding a grudge against Jesus because he was of Jewish descent. The fact that he was “God in the flesh” and came to save us is what’s important, no matter his race or cultural heritage. Something similar could be said of the NACC. Despite any differences we might feel between our situation and the demographics of past NACC leadership, everyone can agree this convention is very important to our movement.
Part of the Process
As an African-American, I’ve always enjoyed the NACC. I’ve been blessed every time I’ve attended it over the years. The ideas, messages, and workshops have helped me tremendously in my ministry, not to mention the partnerships and networks it has helped forge.
Yes, I’d heard some of the comments of others within my “culture,” I’d seen them pull back and fall away. But I’ve always been a Christian first and an African-American second. If the NACC was the “gathering place” and “connecting place” of our movement, I didn’t want to be on the outside looking in. Problems and differences don’t cease to exist because we ignore them or leave them alone; the only way to solve them is to confront and address them, and that can take place only when we willingly are part of the process.
Am I interested in diversity? Without a doubt! However, I’m not interested in a program that looks and sounds exactly like me, but one that appeals to me in a God-honoring way. The fullness of God can be witnessed only by a program that completely reflects all nations.
Over the past few years there have been subtle undertones afoot—a recognition that racial diversity needs to increase; a recognition that not all serve at megachurches; a recognition that women fill prominent roles in the church. And today every level of the NACC, including its boards and committees, demonstrates this sensitivity.
Anything Is Possible
Has the NACC achieved everything it should in these areas? No. But I believe it is well on its way. Reconciliation between our instrumental and noninstrumental brethren has shown us anything is possible. I believe the willingness is there, and I personally know that the appeal to fellow African-Americans, Hispanics, Filipinos, and other tribes within our movement has been issued to come and play a part in this great work.
We must all come together, lay aside preconceived ideas, and seek to build a platform and program that honors God and recognizes that he gifts ALL individuals with talents and abilities to serve him, and he is glorified when we do. To those haunted by the past, I say they should adopt the mind-set of Paul, who said, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
As for me, I have no desire to run the convention or be on the main stage. But I do want to help build a working representation of Heaven here on earth, and I believe the NACC should be the “connecting place” for that to occur in our movement.
I must admit I am impressed and energized with what is happening and how the NACC has progressed. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
Herb Botts serves as pastor with Inglewood Southside Christian Church in Inglewood, California.