By Mark A. Taylor
Oh, I’ve always attended main sessions, and in my three-plus decades of attending NACCs, I know some sermons have moved and taught me.
But what I’ve anticipated about each year’s gathering—and what I’ve promoted most when encouraging others to attend it—was not the preaching. I talked, instead, about the fellowship.
I’ve always played up the “connecting place” angle of the NACC where we reignite longtime friendships and make new ones. Ministries and missions agencies and all kinds of kingdom enterprises have meetings, host meals, and stage receptions to make sure their constituencies will understand and support them for another year.
We do business at the convention. One ministry leader reflected on the fact that his agency’s work now stretches coast-to-coast, and the NACC is the best place to bring those workers together from across the country.
Besides fellowship, there’s instruction. I’ve always been a big advocate of the workshops: practical help on everything from addiction recovery to worship ministry. Whenever I’ve had an opportunity to offer an opinion about NACC workshops, I’ve always said, “We need more of ‘em!”
This year didn’t let me down on either the workshop or the fellowship front. We enjoyed plenty of both of them. But I was taken by the sermons this year in a way they haven’t moved me some years before.
Maybe it’s because they were from the book of Revelation, which all of us wish we understood better. And maybe it’s because these preachers didn’t bog down on identifying the meaning of every symbol, picture, and prophecy in the book. Instead, they showed how these passages give us hope in suffering, and strength for the future.
Matt Proctor illuminated the fierce, forceful image of Jesus in Revelation and challenged us not to take him for granted.
Aaron Brockett lifted up the ideal of the church and admitted no particular church is ideal—certainly not those described in Revelation! But we can all do our part to make the church better.
Randy Harris cut through the clutter in so much current talk about worship, and Jon Weece offered a passionate, personal perspective on suffering that will make me forever view this life’s troubles in a different light.
Frank Smith Jr. pointed out that “bearing witness boldly” may mean tackling some of the toughest social problems of our time.
Kyle Idleman reminded us that much of what the world calls good is really evil.
And then came Rick Atchley’s and Joni Eareckson Tada’s glorious pictures of the joy that awaits us in eternity and the joy that can characterize our days while we’re still bound on earth.
Every sermon—every one of them—touched and challenged me. In fact, I want to listen to several of them again, and I’m glad I can. Through August 12, video recordings of each of the convention’s six main sessions are available free at the NACC website. Watch them, and you’ll probably understand why I say, “The preaching at this summer’s NACC was my favorite part!”