By Mark A. Taylor
To a casual observer, the North American Christian Convention president’s job may look easy and fun. He gets to make many decisions about the convention program, including the speakers and the lead musicians. In the year before the convention, he is introduced as president before audiences everywhere. Once the convention begins, he flits from one session to another, encouraging leaders and speakers and bringing words of greeting. He has the honor of preaching at the convention’s opening session.
But anyone who’s worked behind the scenes at the NACC sees the burden the president takes on. For one thing, no decision about programming is without its risks: Will the speakers and musicians produce as expected, without unpleasant surprises? How will attendees react? Are we creating the right blend of the expected with the fresh and new?
Speaking around the country sounds enjoyable. But when a church leader must add a long list of travel dates to a schedule already full with ministry demands, the result is stress.
Preaching at an NACC main session is an honor, but few sermons receive as much scrutiny as these do. And criticism can sting even the most experienced leader.
But beyond and before all these factors is the issue of finances. Convention planning begins with a budget based on past experience. Each new idea, every innovation, comes with a price tag. Several recent presidents have raised tens of thousands of extra dollars to underwrite the convention program they created.
All this highlights the significance of something this year’s president told me. I asked Dudley Rutherford to name one thing he wishes would have been different this year. “I wish I had done more to honor the past presidents,” he answered. He had called past presidents to the platform before the first evening session. “It was amazing to see all of them on the stage at one time,” he said. “But I wish we could have done something more for them. Until you serve as president you don’t really know how much work and time the president puts in.”
You can see a list of every convention and every president—84 years of history—at www.gotonacc.org/events/. It’s a lineup of influential leaders who have helped shape our fellowship—our ministries, our traditions, our cherished beliefs—and the North American Christian Convention.
When you pray this week, thank God for all they have given. And then ask a blessing on Rick Rusaw, the 2012 NACC president. I’m guessing right about now he’s feeling the weight of what’s required of him because he accepted this role.