By Mark Snavely
I knew nothing of the North American Christian Convention until I began attending the Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary (presently Cincinnati Christian University) in 1978. I was not on the campus very long before I heard professors and classmates speak of the NACC. The connotation was typically a positive one, so my interest began to grow.
The first NACC that I was able to attend was in Louisville, Kentucky. Initially I was excited because a girl who had caught my eye at college was going to attend. I knew I was bound to bump into her. Sure enough, thanks to the assistance of a close classmate, I was formally introduced to the young lady and have been sharing her close companionship ever since. (Who needs eHarmony when you have events like the NACC to spot the love of your life?)
Besides helping me meet my wife, it did not take long for me to fall in love with the NACC for many other reasons.
Renewing Old Acquaintances
The NACC is important to me because it is a great occasion to renew old acquaintances. I inevitably bump into former professors and students that I went to Bible college with, regardless of where the convention is being held. In that one occasion I have the opportunity to touch base with any number of individuals who have touched my life in one way or another. I value a picture that I have that was taken at the NACC—Dr. Jack Cottrell with his arm around my shoulder. It is on a wall in my study as a reminder of all the professors who have influenced my faith and to whom I am eternally indebted.
While in college I played on the basketball and baseball teams. That afforded me the opportunity to visit other Bible colleges and get to know some of the student athletes in those programs. While we were competitors at one time, the NACC serves as a tangible reminder that we are all on the same team and fighting for the same cause.
At the NACC I know I have an excellent opportunity to bump into people that I have served with in ministry over the years, like former staff members, church members, and even kids I once led in youth group. It is special to be able to renew those ties—to see people you have served with still “fighting the good fight, keeping the faith” is an awesome reminder that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Recharging My Spiritual Batteries
The NACC is also important to me because it is a great occasion for my spiritual batteries to be recharged. Things happen in life and ministry that are draining and burdensome. It is tremendous to have a place where you know you can go and be spiritually revived, a place where you can have your faith reinforced to face the spiritual battle we are in.
In many ways I look at the NACC as a grand revival. There you can hear some of the best preachers and teachers you can find, both inside and outside of our brotherhood. With just a glance at the lineup of speakers for any given year, you see the effort is made to secure people who are excellent communicators of the Word of God.
Over the years I have heard many great messages delivered by many great people of God. While I can’t say that any one message stands out in my mind more than another, I know the combined effect of those messages has shaped and solidified the faith I now stand on each and every day. Those messages, like mortar, have all helped to form a bond that gives me strength.
What does stand out in my mind are the many times I left auditoriums knowing that the Word of God had just penetrated the joint and marrow of my being. Many times I was convicted. Other times I was motivated. Every time I was refined, thinking how I was glad I came.
The time of praise in worship may be my favorite feature of the NACC. While I am not a great singer, I do love to make a joyful noise and shout to the Lord! And when I can be drowned out by thousands of others praising the Lord, I feel more comfortable cutting loose and belting it out.
It is refreshing to see such talented people being willing to use their abilities to exalt God and edify others. The convention does a great job weaving together various elements of worship, such as drama, special music, and responsive reading. These all help prime the audience to be in the presence of God.
I serve in a small church. While I am proud of the praise and worship we enjoy on a weekly basis, the experience of coming together and praising God with several thousand believers is astounding. It is hard to describe in words what that experience is like. It has to be encountered.
I will always remember an evening service where the thousands in attendance stood and sang the song, “We Will Dance.” It gave me chills as we lifted our voices, clapped, and sang of the day when the saints of every generation, tribe, and nation will gather around the throne of the Lamb and celebrate the victory we have in Jesus. The NACC gives a foretaste of what it will be like in glory.
I do not sit in a formal classroom very often, so to be able to go to a workshop and be instructed by individuals who have expertise in specific areas is extremely beneficial. Oftentimes I find myself simply being affirmed in my faith and practice—which is as useful as picking up on some new insight or novel idea. Such affirmation plays a significant role in helping me not lose heart.
There are also many subtle ways my batteries end up being charged at the NACC. Someone takes the time to share a Scripture with me, to stop and pray with me, share a testimony with me, give a gift to me. The handshakes, hugs, and smiles all charge me up.
Even the time spent in the exhibit hall is invigorating in its own way. Besides picking up enough ink pens and mints to last me for the next year, the context there gives me access to all kinds of resources that can be highly beneficial. From information on various missions around the world, to the different Bible colleges and courses available, to the material offered by the publishing houses represented, the contacts and connections end up lifting my spirit.
If you take advantage of it, there are numerous possibilities to have your faith energized.
Reviving My Family
Finally, the NACC is important to me because of the impression I know it has the potential of making on my family. Most every summer as my older children were growing up, attending the NACC was a highlight. For that I am grateful to my deceased father-in-law, Bill Claycomb. Many summers he and his wife, Blanche, worked our family into their plans for the convention at their expense. I know the memories my children have of the NACC have influenced their walks and relationships with Christ in a favorable way.
Two other pictures that I have on the walls in my office are of my daughters sitting on a pink motorcycle. The motorcycle was set up as part of a missions exhibit one year. They were thrilled to have their pictures taken on it, and I’m thrilled because I know these memories are associated with times spent drawing near to God. As a parent my assignment is to give my children back to God, and I see the NACC lending a hand toward that end.
The last two years my family and I have not been able to attend the NACC. I have to admit that the summer does not seem the same without it. We hope to make the convention this July. My wife and I do not want our youngest children to miss out on what their older siblings have been able to experience.
To me the NACC can be classified as a mountaintop experience. It is an occasion where, like Moses on Mt. Sinai, we can draw near to God and come away from the encounter radiating his glory.
Mark Snavely is a minister in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
Every year the NACC selects projects that reflect Christ’s heart to the world and that need physical and financial support. Here are this year’s service projects. Find out more about how to get involved online.
• Lifeline Christian Mission (www.lifeline.org): Pack food items for the poor in Haiti.
• FAME (www.fameworld.org): Provide and bundle personal care items for the poor across the world.
• Kairos Benevolence Fund (www.kairoslegacypartners.org/our-services/kairos-benevolence-fund): Help ministers who are experiencing hardships.
• Unleashed for the Unreached (www.u4theu.com): Adopt an unreached people group.
• Christian Churches Disability Ministry (www.ccdmonline.org): Support families by offering respite care for children who are disabled so their parents can attend the NACC.