God is a talker. In the beginning, he thundered the creatively explosive words, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and everything we know and see came into being.
And he didn’t stop there. He spoke throughout the history of his chosen people: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1).
But God had more to say, so he reiterated his Word to the world through the person of Jesus. According to the apostle John, “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1), and this “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In Jesus, the living Word, God has spoken a message of love and life, and as long as the world remains, God will continue to speak.
And he will use us to do it! Yes, God is a talker, and because he has spoken, WE SPEAK.
This year’s North American Christian Convention in Cincinnati, June 23-26, will celebrate every Christian’s calling to speak for God. In a world of constant dialogue, we have something to say—all of us.
We are celebrating the “we” this year, because in the church, it’s not “some” speak. It’s not “preachers” speak. It’s not “leaders” speak. And it’s not “influencers” speak. Every Christ follower speaks. In fact, as with Peter and John in Acts 4:20, we cannot help but speak.
This theme will be the focus of the preaching during the main sessions, as we biblically define exactly what it means for us to speak. Here’s a taste of the great preaching that awaits you at this year’s convention.
As president of this year’s NACC, I’m honored to open our gathering Tuesday night by setting the theme and tone for the week with this word from Acts 4:1-21: “We Cannot Help But Speak.” Because of what we know about Jesus’ resurrection, and because of what we have seen as a result, we speak.
On Wednesday morning, both ends of the generational perspective will be represented as we celebrate “All Generations Speak.” First will be a sermon from four young preachers who participated in our “Next Generation Preacher Search.” In a NACC first, four college-age students will speak from 1 Timothy 4:12-16, encouraging a younger generation to find their voice through their example. This will be followed in the same session by LeRoy Lawson sharing from Psalm 71:8-19—the prayer of an aging David to “declare your power to the next generation” (v. 18).
Wednesday evening will continue the great preaching with Jodi Hickerson’s bright young voice. I met Jodi when she was a high school student in Lexington, Kentucky. Her passion for God and ability to preach was evident then. She’s still using that gift and passion today. I have asked her to speak from 1 Corinthians 9:7-14 on the theme “We Believe Therefore We Speak.” She will challenge us to find our voice from a position of deep faith.
The great preaching will continue on Thursday morning as Chris Seidman deals with a reality we often face when we speak. From Ezekiel 2:1-7, he will teach us why “We Speak Even if No One Listens.” Chris is senior minister of The Branch Church, a strong and growing congregation in Dallas, Texas. His energy will encourage those of us who feel like no one is listening when we speak.
Sermon two that Thursday morning will come from Rusty George, who leads the Real Life Church in Valencia, California. In 2014, Outreach magazine named Real Life one of the fastest-growing churches in America. But, as Christians know, God accomplishes powerful things in our weakness. Rusty will preach from 1 Corinthians 1:18-30 and how “We Speak Powerfully in Weakness.”
Thursday night’s sermon will come from Ajai Lall, founder and leader of Central India Christian Mission, which has planted more than 1,300 churches in India over the last 30 years. Last year alone, there were 58,000 baptisms through CICM’s work and God’s blessing. CICM’s location, in the second-largest nation in the world, gives Ajai a unique perspective to preach about how “We Speak of Hope in the Midst of Suffering” (1 Peter 3:13-17). It should be one of the NACC’s most memorable sermons in years.
Sean Palmer is another of the Restoration Movement’s young voices that needs to be heard—and we will hear it Friday morning. Sean is an accomplished author, blogger, and preacher. His unique world perspective and ability to communicate the good news effectively using the streams of dialogue in our culture will encourage us to find our own voice. He will speak on the theme “We Speak Good News,” taken from 2 Kings 7:1-9.
Finally, Daniel Overdorf, the preaching professor at Johnson University, will bring the second message on Friday morning—a crucial reminder to keep speaking. Every year we are reminded that many come to the convention feeling as though their voice doesn’t matter and wondering if anything they say is really making a difference. From Acts 5, Daniel will remind us that like the early church, “We Will Never Stop Speaking,” for we have the only message that really matters.
Along with these exciting sermons, we will communicate the “We Speak” theme in many other ways. A “preaching marathon” will feature back-to-back-to-back sermons during the elective sessions. Our hope is to expand the number of voices at the convention by allowing up to 20 different preachers from all ages, all church sizes, and all perspectives to speak in Cincinnati.
We’ll also offer a book to each registered attendee that will include a chapter study, daily devotions, and small group discussion guide as a tool to continue the “We Speak” theme well past the convention. Our prayer is this resource will help encourage hundreds of congregations to find their voice in the kingdom as well.
My prayer is that, one way or another, you will add your voice by attending this year’s convention. Together we’ll celebrate a grand fact: “We Speak!”
Mike Baker serves as senior pastor with Eastview Christian Church in Normal, Illinois, and as the 2015 NACC president.