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Takeaways from the National Conference on Preaching 2013

It was an interesting week and just what I needed. Since it was just what I needed, I will try not to come across as negative and mean, while being truthful at the same time.

Let me start with the positive. The conference was held at the Mecklenberg Community Church in Charlotte North Carolina. The pastor is James Emery White. In honesty the fact that the conference was being held at this church and the fact that I follow James on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite and have read some of his books, which are outstanding, I wanted to go to this conference. White spoke twice at the conference and his two messages spoke volumes to me and most likely to all who were there. The other speaker that I was anxious to hear was former Bishop, Will Willimon. He too did a great job and brought a great message.

The theme of the week was “Vision.” Each speaker was to talk about preaching and vision and most did. There were some great moments and some really good messages and God spoke to me through the event. This is an inter denominational or non denominational event, there were Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist preachers who spoke and I know there were some Charismatic churches represented as participants.

There were a lot of references to Matthew 28 and that being Gods vision for His church, that we would tell the world about Jesus Christ, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I agree, this is Gods overriding vision for His church, along with some other things that we are to do in the process. James Emery White had the best message about this and you can find notes here on my blog about the message he brought on the final day.

The problem is and this may be where some think that I am being mean. There were lots of references to certain types of music not being the right style for church or not Gods music, there were several references to churches entertaining people, i.e. contemporary style worship services, there were some puns toward particular denominations. To be honest with you, I wanted to throw up part of the time. I felt like I was with a group of people who felt they had God figured out and they were doing it his way and everyone else was wrong. I was questioning after the first night whether I would go back and the Holy Spirit encouraged me to go back. The second day I didn’t find much encouragement from the conference speakers but I did find lots of encouragement from God.

I came away from this conference with a renewed vision for introducing people to Jesus Christ. I cam away with a renewed understanding of why so many people don’t like church. I came away with a renewed gratefulness for church that I serve. Where the music wouldn’t be the choice of a lot of church people, where the dress wouldn’t be appropriate for a lot of church people, where the preaching style would be considered elementary to many church people, where the place we meet would be seen as not a church building or not suitable for many. A church where we would be seen as out of the “norm” a church that doesn’t follow man’s rules,  a church that has decided to be out of the box.

The church I pastor would have no doubt been frowned upon by many that I met this week but it is smiled upon by Jesus. I know that because I see lives being changed every week. I see people being the hands and feet of Jesus. People don’t walk the isle at Out Of The Box very much to make a profession of faith but they walk the community sharing the Good News and that my friends is the true test of faith.

The church you serve may not do things like we do, our music style may be different, we dress in jeans, shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, and you may dress in suit and tie. It doesn’t matter, those things are outside the heart and what Jesus is interested in is what is on the inside of the heart.

I am glad that I went this week to this conference, the two messages I heard by James Emery White were worth the trip each time. I won’t plan to attend next year but I won’t tell others they shouldn’t. These folks are all my brothers and sisters. We don’t agree on some things but we agree that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We can agree to disagree on the unimportant matters. I hope I don’t come across as mean, it is not my intent.

I came away with exactly what I needed, a renewed VISION for God’s Church.



May 18, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Ronnie, I appreciate your words. I have been in conferences and meetings with exactly the opposite message – where if you dress in “Sunday clothes” etc; or if you have organ music, then you only have “tradition” for your religion. Both mindsets are wrong. Different people will worship differently. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when I try to squeeze you into my box, OR you try to squeeze me into yours.

    Great words. Thank you.

    Comment by betty newman | May 18, 2013 | Reply

  2. Paul said he was all things to all people so that by all means he might win some.
    Good words, Ronnie. Thank you.

    Comment by Betsy | May 19, 2013 | Reply

  3. I’m right there with you brother!

    Comment by Tim Hawkins | May 20, 2013 | Reply

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