If these can be trusted, then our second Church of God (ChoG) Regional Convention and ChoG Table, ending last week in Anderson, found the church’s heartbeat strong and its pulse quickened. Live tweets from the floor, pictures posted on Facebook, energetic and healthy dialogue in the venue hallways and in local restaurants, all bore witness to the enthusiasm, expanding vision, and fresh air in the house.
Milton Grannum? Hands down, just one of the best. “Class act.” “Anointed.” “Powerful.” These are the words breathed by the crowd, following his keynote message at the Convention’s opening night. Ben Hardman? “Wow.” “Just what we needed.” “How can I learn more from this guy?” Just a sample of the buzz after his next-day morning session focused on discipleship and leadership. Arnetta McNeese Bailey? “She knows how to bring it home!” “Moving.” “Challenging.” “Never better.” Her tackling of the Lord’s Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10 stood tall. Steve Arterburn? “Amazing.” “So on point.” “I had a breakthrough in my thinking as he talked.” “Life-changing.” There’s a reason Arterburn has sold over eight million books—and his afternoon sessions gave us a glimpse why. And, Reggie McNeal? “I’m bringing my local church leaders to Philadelphia to hear him for themselves.” “Hilarious, seriously.” “Kingdom-centered revolutionary.” “He reframed my whole ministry.” There’s just none like him.
And, our worship leaders? Many thanks to Alanna Story: something old, something new, and bluegrass, too—all of it fresh and pure, always. “I loved it.” “So sensitive to the moment.” “More, please!” And so the reviews poured in.
One high school student from out of town came up to me following one of the Convention sessions and asked, “Why didn’t everyone in my youth group hear about this? I want them all to be here. It’s so fabulous!” I replied, “You’ll have to talk to your local pastor about that.” :) His excitement speaks to one of our important aims: engaging new generations in our ChoG meet-ups, even as we work to also honor the tried and true.
Of course, there were some who, fairly, were disappointed that the ChoG Regional was not a replica of the Anderson Camp Meetings of days gone by. The music might be too loud or too modern for some, the preaching too long, the schedule too busy for others. Some concluded that The Table speakers did not adequately explore all of the dimensions of the immigration and refugee debate; this, too, was fair. But, the biggest disappointment shared was that the Convention and Table were too short: “I just wanted to have more; I didn’t want it to end,” was the oft repeated refrain.
And, for thirsty complaints like these, well, we are grateful.
Many thanks to all of our ChoG Ministries staff and volunteers who worked for months to make last week possible. Thanks to our Madison Park Church friends for so graciously welcoming us into their facilities; the auditorium, Commons, conference rooms, catering, Holy Grounds, and more, were exceptional; none finer.
Thank you for being a part. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for investing time and dollars to strengthen the body of Christ by being present, by listening and sharing all along the way. Thanks for believing the best and loving so much. The ChoG Regional Convention and ChoG Table crowds were a positive, world-changing, Christ-following bunch. Just as they were in our first set in Vancouver (Portland) last April. And, just as they will be at our next ChoG Regional and Table in Philadelphia in September.
Reclaim Your Neighbor[Hood]. The Lord is good. Jesus is the subject. Thanks for being a part of our church family. Mark your calendar now for the next ChoG USA + Canada National in Wichita in June 2017. You won’t want to miss it; see ya then, if not before.