So now that I've explained the background of the North American Christian Convention, onto my thoughts about the gathering. So after dropping the girls off in Lexington, I made it to Louisville on Tuesday afternoon, hooked up with a buddy who had a place for me to stay, and headed to the convention center. By the time I left town Thursday, my head was spinning with so many thoughts, I'm not quite sure how to fit it all in. That being said, here's some bullet items of my experience. I apologize about any randomness, but I'm too lazy to be organized now.
- The thing I love about the NACC is seeing people. There's no other chance to see people I've met over the years. From attending CCU, to Kelly working at Standard Publishing [the major publishing arm of our churches], to all the places I've ministered/preached at, it's tough to walk 100 feet without seeing someone you know.
- Here's one story about a person I knew. Jason Bradshaw was this guy who came to CCU to play basketball; he was a bull rider who always had Skoal in his back pocket. After breaking his arm in his first home game, undercut by a defender while trying to dunk, Jason dropped out of CCU and moved back home. We met for the first time in seven years at the convention where he told me he's been a youth minister all these years. He loves God and loves his ministry; it's awesome to see God take people like Jason, who you thought would never dreamed would stick with it, and mold them into pastors who shape lives.
- I also got to have a good conversation with Steve Smith, a worship minister down in Louisville. Ever since we met at CCU, we've always had deep theological [and sarcastic] conversations.
- Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Dan and Karen Hamilton. I did my ministry internship with Dan 11 years ago in a small town in central Ohio [I should really write about that summer sometime]. Dan and Karen are some of the best people I've ever met. Their kids were perfect, and I'm pretty sure neither of them have ever been angry.
- Also, it's fun to talk to all the older people at the convention. Too many times we young bucks want to be revolutionary and ultra-relevant, and we neglect the generation who went before us who fought a similar fight. Ben Merold has ministered all over the country and every church he went to has experienced growth. A few years ago he relocated to a small church in Missouri so he could "retire" and the church now runs over 2,000 people. I saw him on the street and thanked him for doing a seminar at my friend Aaron's church and he was very gracious. I hope I can be like him 50 years from now.
- While I do love the old people, I have a small gripe: why can't they figure out how to use cell phones? IN EVERY SESSION I ATTENDED multiple cell phones went off. And all but one time, the phones were wielded by someone born before 1941. I'm just saying, if you can't control your cell phone in a public setting, you shouldn't be allowed to have it. I'm pretty sure they no longer make cell phones without a vibrate mode. And, making a stereotypical judgment here, none of those people were so important that they had to accept the call immediately. But once again, that's for another post.
- I attended a workshop where a guy used Power Point and a laser pointer. Now I have done this myself when showing a map or image, but this guy used it to highlight his bullet points; he would shake his laser pointer over the text that he was reading. It was follow the bouncing ball for snipers. I almost laughed out loud. Did he think we were so dumb that we couldn't follow along with the words on the screen? This was the technological equivalent of someone pointing at the sentences in a book you're reading. Bad form.
- We've reached the point where CDs and DVDs are like business cards: easily dispensable and worthless. Walking through the aisles of displays in the booth hall, I had four different people hand me homemade DVDs that presented their product and ministry. I felt a tad guilty about throwing them away. But the I figured that I didn't ask for any of them, so I shouldn't feel obligated to view them.
- Before I left, I told my wife I was only taking my New Testament Bible. She asked why and I responded, "like anyone there will use the Old Testament." Sadly, I was correct. And more than that, I really only needed the Bible for one sermon. If we're truly a movement based on the Bible, it seems we would open it a bit more.
- Finally, these last two points are not about the convention directly but relate to the urban atmosphere. During the lunch rush, it was impossible to find a place to eat. One afternoon Dale Reeves [friend from Mason, co-worker of Kelly] and I walked a few blocks looking a place to eat. The only empty place was this Lucky Strike restaurant. We think convention goers didn't go in because the sign outside had X's on it; the Christian folks assumed it was a strip club and steered clear. It was actually a restaurant/bowling alley. Pretty cool.
- A constant gripe I hear from suburbanites about Cincinnati is that we have too many panhandlers down here. I saw more in my three days in downtown Louisville than I've seen in Cincinnati this year. I think we're clueless.
All in all, I had a great time and am very glad that I went. In two years, the convention will be here in Cincinnati, so maybe some of you locals will be able to check it out.
But there's one other thing I need to write about that the NACC. So keep looking for part three.