By Everett Brewer
When asked to write about why people should attend the North American Christian Convention, my first thought was, “Why me?” I serve a small church, most of you have no idea who I am, and I have not always been an enthusiastic supporter of the NACC. But then I realized maybe those were the very reasons I should write.
Here are some perspectives on why I am not just an attender but a worker, a financial supporter, and an enthusiastic proponent of the NACC today:
One of the criticisms I often hear is that the NACC caters too much to large churches. I serve a congregation with an attendance of about 50, so I understand this concern all too well. But would I be interested in hearing how to build of church of 50? Hardly! All of us who love Jesus want to see more people reached with the gospel.
Many of the speakers share ideas, programs, and practices that would not fly in our community. But most speakers tell their stories. A passionate presentation of how they caught a fresh breeze of God’s Spirit has sent me home with renewed vigor and enthusiasm many times.
Leaders can develop tunnel vision. Because I am working every day in my own neighborhood, I tend to only see my neighborhood. Over time I am apt to look at things only from my small church mentality. One refreshing aspect of the NACC is that I am almost forced to look at the bigger picture and thereby raise my vision of what the church can and should be.
It requires a huge outlay of funds and effort to bring off a four-day event. Most churches are strapped for money and struggling to make their budgets. Our missionaries, colleges, and ministries need and deserve our support. With so many worthy causes pleading for money and help, should we pour so much into the NACC?
When you consider the number of people, ministries, and churches the convention encourages and strengthens, the investment is well-placed. The convention is like the time I spend filing my hoe in the garden—the effort invested in sharpening my hoe will pay big dividends in improved effectiveness. The NACC does the same for the kingdom.
I serve in an economically depressed, urban setting in a zip code that is 50 percent African-American. Racial reconciliation and concern for the disadvantaged are the fabric of our ministry.
A large contingent of our churches are rural and suburban, so faces of color have often been few and far between. Years ago at one NACC, I decided that I would personally greet every non-Causasian whom I encountered. I soon discovered that I was talking mostly to employees of the convention center!
Thank God things have changed in recent years. Most recent presidents have made a conscious effort to make the platform more diverse in race, ethnicity, and gender. The constituency of our churches is growing more diverse and so the attenders of the NACC are more diverse. We are not where we should be, but neither are where we have been in the past.
In addition, the NACC has exposed me to lots of ministries and ministers working in similar settings to ours. The encouragement and counsel that I have received from them is like a cool drink of water in the heat of July.
In the early 1990s, I was invited to be on a three-person panel under the title, “White Men Can Do Ethnic Work.” (A movie with a similar title obviously inspired the name for the workshop.) The invitation surprised me for two reasons. First of all, I was not sure that white men could do ethnic work. Second, if they could, I would have liked to hear someone who was doing it effectively. I certainly did not see myself as that person. What I discovered was that God was using my participation to encourage, motivate, and inspire me. One of the leaders was just the right person to address the issues I was facing at home, including my own weaknesses and inadequacies.
God has used the convention to reload my quiver with arrows to attack specific problems and issues I face. The preachers in the main sessions have charged my spiritual batteries that have been drained by the continual pressure to preach and present the Word. The speakers, workshop leaders, and Bible study teachers sparked my own creativity and enthusiasm for the Word.
I had the privilege of being invited to serve a three-year term on the Continuation Committee, praying and planning the convention. I wasn’t sure that I had much to contribute, but I found those planning sessions to be a stimulating spiritual tonic. Being around passionate leaders in the kingdom is a side benefit for all those involved in the convention.
The main sessions have raised my vision of what can and should be done to build up the body of Christ in a gathering of believers. The music has been a well-chosen mix of contemporary and traditional elements. The main session speakers have raised the standard of what constitutes solid biblical preaching. The exhibit hall is a smorgasbord of ideas, products, and services that will excite and stimulate the weary Christian worker.
But my most memorable times have been significant conversations with mentors, old friends, and fellow laborers in the harvest field. A sandwich or soft drink shared with a trusted friend can do wonders for one’s body, soul, and spirit!
The NACC has also been a blessing to our congregation. We have brought home lots of ideas and principles that have enhanced our ministry. The main sessions were so effective one year that we viewed them in their entirety in our home with a small group. When the convention has been in Cincinnati, our congregation has volunteered in children’s sessions, as greeters, and in welcome centers. The camaraderie of serving together has raised our vision for what we can do when we all work together.
The NACC has been a blessing to my family. My wife has never been disappointed in the special sessions for women, especially for ministers’ wives. God has even used the NACC to bless my family not just spiritually but financially. Of course, the spiritual benefits are the primary reason we go, but my son was on a Bible Bowl team in 1994 that won the tournament, resulting in a tuition scholarship for his first year at Cincinnati Christian University.
My only regret concerning the NACC is that I have not always availed myself of its benefits. Sometimes I thought I was too busy to take time out of a hectic summer schedule to go to the convention. Sometimes when money was tight, I used it as an excuse to do something else. Sometimes I was too arrogant and prideful to think that I could benefit from the NACC. How hard it is to even write those words today! If you love the Lord and his church like I do, I am pretty confident that you will not regret your involvement with the North American Christian Convention.
Everett Brewer has served with the President Drive Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio, since the early 1980s.