Please forgive that I have not posted all week, but I just returned from the three day extravaganza known as the Annual Meeting of Northwest Baptists. This year our meeting was in Portland at the Embassy Suites near the Airport. More on that later.
For those who might not know, the word “convention” is not really what we are doing. It is more like a conference. I’ve always thought we needed a name change given the times we live in. Convention is ComicCon or Air Compressor salespeople learning about sales strategies or new product. What we do is more like a conference or an expo–there is a lot of preaching, music, and reports. I usually skip the reports. You can read about previous years reviews (Eugene, Eugene, and Tri-Cities)
So here are my thoughts/comments/perspectives on this years gala.
1. I usually blog at the convention itself, but the stupid Embassy Suites where we were charged $10 a day for wifi so, being a a Baptist I decided to skip that. I hope you understand. No wifi really cut into my aimless Facebooking and Words with Friends addiciton. The bed was comfy, but did I mention the airport was nearby. How close was the airport? I’m pretty sure I heard the landing gear scrape the roof, that is how close. I did not sleep well at all because of the incredible amount of air traffic noise. Ohhh, and I almost forgot, the loudest indoor waterfall in the world is in their lobby. I could hear the faux waterfall from my room. With the door closed. And my Skullcandy earphones on. Listening to Led Zeppelin.
2. One of the things I appreciate about my convention, my tribe, is our radical commitment to facial hair. Most of the men (and some of the women?) had completely spectacular beards. Case in point–here is a snapshot of the praise band from Monday and Tuesday. What awesome beards they have. They were a great praise band too–which is probably directly proportional to the amount of beardage. It makes me proud to be a Northwest Baptist.
3. The preaching is always what pulls me in the most. Jeff Iorg did a great job this morning encouraging us to keep to the basics of disciple making. Our Convention president this year, Steve Schenewerk, gave last night’s message. Afterward I took a photo of him because he looked like a mafia don. I skipped today’s afternoon session because we had a long drive back and I needed to get back tonight for small group but I have heard on the Twitter that Barry Campbell did a great job.
4. Billy Graham was the theme of the convention, I think. Every preacher it seems told a Billy Graham story. I kid you not, I would swear on a stack of Baptist Hymnals that one of them said something like, “If you don’t tell your lost friends about Jesus for their sake, or for the love of Jesus, then do it for Billy’s Graham’s 95th birthday.” That might be a little hyperbole, but not much of one.
5. The best quote I heard–“your ability to lead a church is directly proportional to your ability to tolerate pain” by Gary McIntosh.
6. The best part for me, always, is reconnecting with old friends whom I see far too infrequently. I also sometimes make new friends, like I did this year. It reminds me that the ties that bind us are not doctrine, methodology, or affinity but instead it is the only thing Jesus called a new commandment: love for one another.
7. I felt like there was a lot of angst at the convention this year. Not towards people or anger or anything, but a kind of despondency. Most of the preachers referred to the recent elections in a negative way and wrung their hands and seemed to indicate that all is lost. When that is paired with the usual tone of “if your church doesn’t have 2,000 in worship on Sunday then you are doing something wrong” and people seemed to feel uptight. As I left today I wanted to give everyone a big hug and tell them it would be okay. Jesus is still King and our job hasn’t changed–to be faithful. I wish I could just find a way to help everyone relax a little bit more and enjoy this amazing life of grace that we lead.