My 3 takeaways from the NACC
I grew up attending the North American Christian Convention. I remember riding in the College Press-rented U-Haul with my dad, playing tag on the escalators with Matthew and David DeWelt and sneaking into Louisville’s Freedom Hall locker rooms with Kyle Idleman. I guess I wasn’t the model NACC kid.
Twenty years passed and I gladly returned to the NACC this year in order to grow spiritually, connect with others and represent Blackbox International, which provides long-term, holistic care to trafficked boys. Attending a convention can feel like drinking from a fire hose. It’s impossible to take it all in, let alone digest it. But I’ve identified three takeaways from the 2014 NACC:
1. There’s a radical difference between the statements “We want to reach the lost” and “Nothing will stop us from what we must do to reach the lost.” (paraphrase of Craig Groeschel).
If I had to narrow down the convention to one thought, this would be it. They relentlessly pled with us to passionately obey the Great Commission (the theme was “Re-Mission”).
Groeschel’s main session message implored leaders to reject apathetic attempts to reach the lost. Statements like “We should reach the lost” and “We’d like to reach some teens” are empty of the passion and conviction demanded by Jesus. Every session centered around this theme.
Bill Hybels correctly states that vision leaks. Even in leaders, if not often re-enforced, it fades away. I’ve confessed that this had become true in my own life. I needed to be recharged with Great Commission passion.
Steve Chapman and Gincy Hartin, my dear friends serving in Chicago’s South Side, have taught me so much about exegeting your neighborhood and developing a mission to be the best church FOR your community. It was great to see them last week and consider how they are living these principles.
I’m so thankful for the fire lit under me, which was fueled by Scripture, worship and practical ideas.
2. Nurturing relationships reaps sweet rewards.
The NACC’s schedule allowed plenty of space for long lunches, conversations over coffee and introductions in the Exhibit Hall. I relished traveling with Andy Storms, reconnecting with Matt Giebler (who has more similar ministry experiences with me than I could’ve imagined), meeting Ben Cachiaras for coffee (to put a face with the guy who’d connected with me via blog and email) and going from a stranger to a wish-we-could-hang-out-all-the-time friend with Abou Djaouga in about fifteen minutes. I even sat through a session with three close childhood friends.
I’m terrible at long-distance friendships, but I’ve vowed to do better, even placing notes in my calendar. I need these friendships to encourage, challenge and stretch me.
3. I’m inspired by the masses of people who drip with the sweat of Kingdom work.
I met so many people who pick up the towel of service every morning and spend their days laboring faithfully for the Lord. They’ve kept their legs churning through the muck of a broken world and the disappointments of ministry. They’ve shared the Gospel with the most hopeless of souls. They’ve boldly launched new initiatives. They’ve modeled what it looks like to have a Godly marriage. And they’ve adopted more kids than you could count.
I briefly met and attended a workshop with Daryl Reed, the VP of the convention. He’s endured the stings of racial insensitivity, refusing to pack his bags and leave. Instead, he’s vowed to honor Christ by helping the church cross ethnic lines. I’m so encouraged by his humility, wisdom and commitment.
Leaders from Central India Christian Mission and Christ In Youth gave time and energy to demonstrate their love for us (Blackbox). We’ve only been around a few years, so receiving the backing of such longstanding, world-changing ministries blessed us greatly.
If you ask my ten year old son, who accompanied me on the trip, about his favorite moments of the trip, he’ll mention playing Marco Polo in the hotel pool with the buddy he made, McCabe, and me. He might also mention giving extra food from a luncheon to the homeless. He’s a better kid than I was.
But if you ask me, I will tell you that I’ve been exponentially blessed by the challenge to Re-Mission, the beauty of new or renewed friendships, the encouragement of a mass of Kingdom workers and the joy of sharing the experience with my son.
You can watch main sessions of this year’s NACC for free through August 11th by clicking here .