My Reflection Upon the NACC – Or, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a Movement in Crisis

With the North American Christian Convention (NACC) concluding just last week, it is a good time to reflect upon the entire event while it is still relatively fresh in the mind. I was present for the entire week (except Friday), “manning” the Louisville Bible College booth, meeting and greeting old friends and new friends, and even taking in a session or two along with a few workshops. As any good philosophical theologian, I listened attentively to all the speakers and focused my attention on my surroundings. What were the messages being conveyed? Who was there? Why were they there? Overall, I found the entire experience to be a gallimaufry (look it up; it’s a great descriptive word) of messages. In the end, the NACC epitomizes the good, the bad, and the ugly of a Christian movement with an identity crisis.

The Good

First of all, the NACC is a great place to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Thousands of Christians from the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ (i.e., the Restoration Movement—hereafter, RM) gather from different parts of the country to hear speakers on faith, visit Christian Church affiliated college and university booths, and become acquainted with other affiliated ministries. Just having so many Christians from the RM in one place shows some type of commonality. These people truly love Christ and his church. You can see it in their faces, hear it in their music, and feel it in their hand-shakes and hugs.

But the good of the NACC goes beyond the people. It extends to some of the things they did at the convention as well. For example, Senator Rick Santorum was invited (and I got to meet him! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture), and he presided over the showing of the documentary One Generation Away. This film, produced by Echolight Cinemas (which Santorum is now president) narrates how religious freedom in America is being threatened. The film is essentially a call for Christians to engage the current culture to fight for religious freedom. It will be released in September for churches and para-church organizations to view. I highly recommend it.

Some of the content of the speakers was also quite good and edifying. Christian author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs gave a fantastic and biblical oriented presentation concerning her journey in life. As usual, her presentation was filled with good humor.

Speaking of humor, the directors of the NACC did a fantastic job of bringing in Christian comedian Tim Hawkins. Some of the highlights from his routine include his commentary and songs about the atheist megachurches springing up in the western world. One song, taken from the tune of the children’s song “Deep and Wide” was spot on and hilarious: “Reason why, reason why; I exist but there’s no reason why.” His “slam” against the Message Bible paraphrase was apropos: “What’s up with the Message? It’s like missing parts. Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning God created all the stuff.’ And now: Genesis 2.”

Tim Harlow, this year’s president of the NACC, had a good introductory presentation during the first main session. His exhortation for Christians to “get out of their comfort zone” to lead people to Christ was very encouraging. Too many Christians shirk their duty to evangelize, and Harlow did a fantastic job of waking up the church to its mission.

By far, one of the best sessions was conducted by Rich Knopp, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Apologetics at Lincoln Christian University. The gist of his presentation was that the church needs to shift its paradigm in making disciples. The youth are leaving the church in droves—never to return. The answer? The church needs to teach the Christian faith from a worldview perspective, i.e., the church needs to teach in order to shape the mind, will, attitude, and behavior of Christians. The point is to shape the whole person so that the whole person loves God. For more information about this very important workshop and related ministries that Rich Knopp is involved with, go here.

Of course, it goes without saying that the music during the main worship sessions was superb. It was done very professionally and the songs that were chosen were, for the most part, theologically sound. One song was a bit off theologically, but nothing is perfect. Speaking of not being perfect, that leads me to the “bad” parts of the NACC.

The Bad

I want to begin “the bad” with an aspect that I am not quite sure how to categorize: the interview with Brian “Head” Welch from the hard core band Korn. This interview was not really “bad”; I found it to be mostly good. It was the end that confused me (this is why I have put it under “the bad” category—if something is confusing, it’s bad something). “Head,” for those who do not know, is the guitarist for the secular band Korn. When he converted to Christianity he left the band to care for his daughter. Recently, “Head” returned to the band Korn. I take “Head’s” conversion to be real, but it is still unclear to me exactly how he lives out his faith in the secular hard core music environment. Specifically, does he still play the songs with the lyrics “all I want to do is think about sex all day long?” This line of questioning was never broached. It seems to me that if he is still playing these songs, then there is an issue of inconsistency here.

In addition, at the end of the interview, Tim Harlow (the one interviewing “Head”) asked everyone to stand, put out their hands as a symbol of laying hands on him, and pray for him as the Restoration Movement sent him out as a missionary into the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” mission field. I found this odd. Can Harlow do that on behalf of the Restoration Movement? Does he have that authority? Did Brian “Head” Welch even desire such an action? I can’t quite wrap my head around this. I have no problem (and even would expect and endorse) praying for “Head.” But send him out as an official missionary for the Restoration Movement?

My next “bad” point I’m not going to expound upon much. I’m just going to lay it out there and you can do with it what you want: too many young females were dressed like “ladies of the night” during the college fair. Sure, it’s a good way to recruit, but exactly what for may be a question left in some people’s mind. It was just plain bad.

Speaking of “just plain bad,” one of the opportunities to give an offering was done in such a way that left me with a poor taste in my mouth. The second day of the conference, the audience was told that the NACC planning committee had a goal for the previous day to reach a giving of about $100,000 and they received only about $10,000. That is a rather large short fall, but does the speaker have to berate the audience into giving more—to “dig” deeper? What was this? A Benny Hinn rally?

Yes, I know that it takes a lot of money to put together the NACC. But, hey, I’ve got an idea: how about getting rid of two or three of the gargantuan screens to save money? And why not dispose of the HD screens (or should I say HD “walls?”) that were used as a backdrop for the entire stage? And that crane “boom” camera—is there a reason why we have to have it? This would save thousands of dollars. I know, I know. It’s all about the “experience,” and if these items were not used, no one would have an “experience.” There is not enough space here to reflect on that sentiment. Let it suffice to say that such an idea is just plain bad as well.

Finally, there is the volume of the music. I’m not a crotchety, old man (I’m not even 40 yet). I just like my divine gift of hearing. I’m already at the beginning stages of losing my hearing and I know there are others who have similar issues. I apologize for wanting to take care of my God-given hearing so I can hear my family say “I love you” when I’m 50. But, then again, I suppose people like me just need to “suck it up” and go deaf for the benefit of the youth. That is, after all, the courteous thinking-of-others thing to do.

The Ugly

So now we come to “the ugly.” First, how about those blatant contradictions? In one of the main sessions (I can’t remember which one presently) the audience was effectively told to get out of the fight for the culture. And then there is Rick Santorum, showing the film One Generation Away, firing up Christians to fight for religious freedom. Which is it? Get out of the fight for culture or fall headlong into it?

Then we have the contradiction of whether we are to engage our minds. At the beginning of one of the main worship sessions, the song leader told the audience to “get all the critical thoughts out of your mind about the music, what’s being done here” (this is a good paraphrase of what she said). In other words, it seems like we were told to “check our brains” at the door. But then Rich Knopp has a superb session about how the church needs to engage the mind. Which is it? Disengage our cognitive faculties or become a smarter church?

Then there is the elephant in the room: the contradictory held views of gender roles in the church. Thankfully, I did not see this issue rear its ugly head during the conference. But, surely, we are all aware of this issue simmering. College and Universities holding contradictory views on this issue were represented: some believe that women ought to be ordained and others do not. Exactly how this will eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. But it will—somehow.

Then there is the contradiction between the message that life is all about Jesus on the one hand and it’s about “you” on the other hand. Clearly, the impression one is left with throughout the worship songs is that Jesus is to be praised–he is the creator and he is our redeemer. There were also numerous moments when it was declared that “it’s all about Jesus.”

The curious thing, however, is that there was a clear message that evangelism is about “telling your story”—it’s about you. Every main session was filled with speakers “sharing their story.” Even those who were supposed to be preaching simply shared their own stories (one after another after another after another, ad nauseum). Ok, I can give credit where credit is due: many of the speakers at least began with reading some Scripture. But abandoning Scripture to speak about one’s own ministry and personal life for 30 minutes is not a focus upon Jesus and his word. It is not even a sermon. I found myself tuning out the speaker after 10 minutes of “story time.” Consider, too, that many colleges and universities advertised at their booths by “sharing stories” of their students. Which is it? Are we to focus upon Jesus and his story or our story?

Moreover, let’s think about this for a moment. Should evangelism be simply about “sharing our story?” I remember one day not too long ago that such an idea was criticized as unbiblical. In fact, this was one of the main reasons the RM was begun. Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and the like criticized the so-called “conversion by experience” that was practiced in the early 19th century, particularly because it was too subjective and it could not be supported biblically. The only requirements for salvation were faith, repentance, and baptism. These were objective conditions for receiving God’s grace. So, here’s the contradiction (or irony): the very movement that began by criticizing experience-based salvation has now come to accept it.

Additionally, I cannot see how “sharing my story” is going to convince anyone in this postmodern, post-Christian culture to accept Jesus as his savior. I’ve had these discussions with unbelievers; I’ve overheard these kinds of discussions. And guess what? The unbeliever always responds with, “Well, I’m glad that you had the experience and that you found your truth. I’m glad your journey has led you to your belief. But it means nothing to me. My experience has led me to a different truth.” Evangelism DOA. What the church needs more than ever is not to “tell their story,” but to be equipped with what they believe and why they believe it, i.e., theology and apologetics (gasp! Those dirty words!). Until then, many in our culture will continue to believe that Christianity is equivalent to believing in the tooth fairy or magic.

Here are my final two “ugly” points. First, during the last session, the speaker actually said that the church ought to consider using the term “missing” rather than “the lost” when referring to unbelievers. “Lost” is evidently–in his words–a “derogatory term.” Um…problem: someone needs to inform Jesus that he was wrong when he said, “I came to seek and save the LOST.”

Finally, why is Rick Warren continuously returning to the NACC? I have nothing personally against the guy. But it gets really old hearing the same things—his messages are like a broken record player. His video-streamed presentation at the NACC this year was lifted from his books (almost verbatim), or at least it sounded like it to me. He also continuously performs the same hermeneutical circus tricks: ripping verses out of context and quoting every translation and paraphrase ever written to prove his own points. (Sorry, Rick Warren fans. I’m just calling it like I see it.)

Conclusion

The NACC is a mixed bag of ideas and philosophies (some good and some not so good), leaving the clear impression that the RM is in the throes of an identity crisis. One person offered to me the idea that the RM is no longer a movement—it’s a heritage. I’m inclined to agree. If one is looking for a consistent, coherent system of beliefs and practices, he will not find it here. In fact, one will find contradictions. Because of these contradictions and polar opposite beliefs, the NACC will probably be beneficial for just about anyone. If you disagree with one aspect, just wait. It’s like the weather in Indiana. If you don’t like it, just wait five minutes and it will change to something more agreeable.

One of the best aspects of the NACC is meeting up with old friends and making new ones (and they DO all love the Lord). In short, it’s a beneficial convention to meet up with friends and others who represent beliefs from a wide spectrum, from liberal to conservative, from pragmatic to theological. There’s truly something for everyone! But one has to wonder: if this is the case, what will the RM be in the future? Will it even exist? After all, a house divided cannot stand, and a movement with no identity is no movement at all.

Grace,

Peter Rasor

 

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46 Responses to My Reflection Upon the NACC – Or, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a Movement in Crisis

  1. Mark Billiter Evangelist says:

    A great commentary on the North American. I believe we have lost it!

    • Philip Keith McAfee says:

      I dont get to go very often to a NACC, but in the past have always enjoyed being there for many reasons. As a missionary, having a booth served no other purpose than to see people and give people an opportunity to see us – friends meeting each other (never had a church sign up to give support – nor any special offering given). I have to sadly agree that we are seeing many trends divert us from the purpose and meaning of our gathering. Christ is no longer the main reason, and that is a shame. I do think that our own personal biases permeate our opinions, and that is true to my own, and there will be those that disagree to part or all of what anyone says. I love the old hymns, and they are dissapearing. Why do we have to keepinviting speakers from denominatinal churches, when we have so many amongst our own movement that do so well. I do however believe the NACC should continue.

  2. This is an extremely thoughtful and beneficial analysis, Dr. Rasor. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. Jennifer Balmer says:

    Thank you so much for your report. Just love new words…and I will look it up. You are a breath of fresh air in a “christian” culture that leaves me in the dust with my crotchety, stodgy beliefs/ways. Your assessment rings true and soothes the breach I feel at times from my brothers & sisters in Christ.
    In Him
    jen

  4. John Coons says:

    Mr. Rasor, even though I did not attend the NACC, I agree with your conclusion. More and more elders are letting their preachers use any translation or paraphrase that says what they want it to say. It is almost impossible to hear any “old time religion” songs any more. I was disappointed to hear that Rick Warren was a speaker. We just need to keep preaching the word and the Bible Colleges need to remain steadfast.

    God Bless you Mr. Rasor
    In HIS service
    John W. Coons

  5. You are right on target with your assessment. I felt like I was getting beaten up because I supposedly beat up sinners. We were told to accept people where they are–obviously–and not “beat them up” because they are sinners. Then the speakers lambasted us because we beat up sinners (ah, stereotypes always work, don’t they?).

    I didn’t make it to the actual session but I bought the CD of the Restoration Movement session with Gary Holloway, Robert Welsh, John Mark Hicks, and Mark Weedman. Mark did a good job but all of them missed the truth that the RM was not a unity movement. It was a movement to restore biblical authority which could result in unity. I hate to so blatantly plug my book “History of the American Restoration Movement” but I affirm there the unity pled for was a unity of individuals first and foremost–individuals who came together to follow God’s Word.

    We are moving farther and farther away from the RM’s principles that made it a force for sound teaching and biblical unity. The movement’s founders would be shocked at the acceptance of Calvinist and Evangelical thinking and the continuous use of the “language of Ashdod.”

  6. Lowell Miller says:

    I read with interest your comments on the NACC. As a fourth generation restoration christian I am glad to see someone who isn’t in lockstep with the “evolution” of the movement (which isn’t so much anymore). I used to attend the NACC when it was within striking distance of Michigan; however haven’t attended for quite a while because of many of the bad and ugly things that are outweighing the good. What has become of the RM has long distanced itself from what my dad told me about his grandfather who started a Christian Church in the mid 1800’s. He deeded land and built a meeting place while when not farming was a “circuit rider” preacher equipped with just the Bible absent of any formal bible college training. I grew up in Southern Illinois (Eldorado) worshiping as a lad and being baptized at a young age. It has been something that has stayed with me and given me the strength I have needed my 72 years. Being from a small congregation (60) I just felt lost at the NACC with all the mega churches and the super ministers who got the honor and accolades. I have been an elder since 1987 and many time discouragement (satan) tries to get me to throw in the towel. What I would really like to see is that the local church get back to annual evangelistic meeting and not waste the money on high priced hotels and a quarter million dollar few day event. The church is local and that is where the focus should be. God blesses us in many ways i.e. we have been tithing our general income at 25% to missions for over 35 years. I see many churches saying they have to cut their mission support because of the economy. To me that says, Trust the economy and not God. I ask your prayers for us as we are in a senior minister search after our last minister of 13 yrs retired. He was our third senior minister. We are 46 yrs old. Thats my two cents worth. Tom Miller

    • Roy Wasson says:

      Mr. Miller, I really like you comment on the focus of a local church. There is wisdom in your words. The idea of “revivals” is put down today. But I think it is time to revive the revivals. Bless you.

  7. Micah says:

    “Ladies of the night?” Really? You’re saying female bible college students at the North American dress like prostitutes?

    • prasor says:

      Yes, Micah. That’s what I’m saying. SOME of the female Bible College students dressed rather provocatively. I was not the only one who noticed this. Females who I know were commenting on this to me as well.

      • Katie says:

        I will make sure to get an announcement out next year before the NACC and remind all ladies to bring their long denim skirts and bonnets.

        • prasor says:

          That wouldn’t be such a bad idea for the immodestly dressed ladies at the college fair. They could probably learn something from the Amish. Lol

  8. Thank you, Mr. Rasor. I did not attend the NACC but have noticed the trends over the last 25 years leading to the identity crisis you described. Thanks also to the excellent replies.

    I remember back when people were upset that denominational preachers were preaching at our main sessions a quite different gospel than our “heritage” has always proclaimed. Now our own brotherhood preachers are espousing false doctrine. We don’t need to call in the outsiders.

    Mr. Rasor was spot on about the trend away from “His Story” to “My Story”. Peter did not blather on about his personal experience at Pentecost. He reminded the audience of the FACTS of the Gospel…the COMMANDS…and the PROMISES. Paul’s power rested in his message…the death, burial and resurrection of God’s Son, not his Damascus road conversion.

    The answer is found in the local church. Study the Word. Teach Restoration History.
    Learn what sets us apart from the denominational world. The late Roger Chambers, in an article entitled “Restoring movement to the restoration movement” wrote: “If we do not think clearly, the mere number of alternatives to New Testament Christianity will subtly drain away our confidence. The spectacle of so many denominations, sects, and cults intimidates the popular mind–religious and secular–in one of two directions: (1) Unlimited variation is taken as proof that none of it is true, or (2) the spiritual vitality of the sects persuades many that all of them are, in some way at least, the work of God. Restoration Movement people often are embarrassed to
    insist on a biblical model for the church when so many sincere believers vote for something else.”
    http://restorationplea.com/documents/Restoring_Movement_to_the_Restoration_Movement.pdf

  9. Roy Wasson says:

    We really need a convention to work toward bringing unity in essentials. A good step toward that would be making sure that all those who speak or do music are members of a Christian Church / Church of Christ so that we can hone our Biblical message. We could separately sponsor debates with various leaders of other groups for everyone to see. Or, we could have mature Christians talk with other groups to see what similarity we might have and if there is something to be learned. But one thing that should not be done is have leaders speak who preach against immersion for the remission of sins talk to young Christians. I think NACC now promotes ecumenical thinking (Ecumenism) which is deleting the concept of restoration in the favor of finding common ground with whoever is around. The concept ultimately deletes all essentials in favor of unity without precepts.

  10. Davon Huss says:

    Hi Dr. Rasor,

    You didn’t mention Ben Merold’s talk at one of the main sessions. What did you think about what he had to say?

    Be joyful always,
    Davon Huss

    • prasor says:

      Unfortunately, I was unable to attend that session. I was attending to other business at the time. What did you think?

  11. Mike Carmen says:

    Peter,

    Thank you very much for your assessment of this year’s NACC. I would love to have attended myself just for the pleasure of catching up with old friends. Unfortunately, I have not attended in several years and your assessment is partly why. The movement is so diverse and contradictory today in its theology and practice. I see this in the NACC, the churches, Bible colleges and seminaries, and finally in the literature.

    Sadly, I agree with your friend who said the RM is no longer a movement—it’s a heritage. I’ve found some of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ very resistant to some of the very basic beliefs of the RM whether it be the complete inerrancy of the Bible, biblical baptism, or appropriate gender roles in the church. The names of the churches seem to be more and more of a link to the church’s heritage than they are of their theological beliefs and practices. In my experience it’s actually easier (and a better use of my ministry efforts) to take up the cause of the movement in churches outside of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ than it is within them.

    Always a pleasure to read your blog,

    Mike Carmen

  12. G. M. Goodwin says:

    I have attended several NACC’s in several states, and they would all have to receive mixed reviews. Some venues have been crowded, some have experienced power outages, some have been compact and some have been exceptionally spread out.
    Speakers have ranged from, well, let’s just say there has been a wide range of effectiveness.
    What has always intrigued me (as one who joined the RM rather than those who were born into the movement) is how a fiercely non-denominational group/class of churches, church organizations, missionaries, colleges and now universities somehow gather together once a year to share with one and all just how fiercely independent they happen to be. We occasionally reach out to our non-instrumental brethren, but we stay away from those radical Disciples. We speak of ways to reach out so we can garner more to our inward way of thinking.
    I have heard Rick Warren speak live at two of our conventions–both times there were complaints of how he either arrived late or spoke beyond his allotted time. (That was remedied this year by having him appear via an obviously edited video presentation).
    In short, of course there was some good, some bad, and some ugly–every year.

  13. Ed Bacon says:

    I’m another minister disappointed in the NACC and the RM. How much did the NACC committee pay Craig Groeshel to “preach” a chapter from one of his latest books verbatim? I get it. “Dig deep” so we can afford to pay Craig. Booking celebrity preachers outside of the RM for the main sessions at the NACC makes this convention no different and no better than any # of conferences throughout the country.

  14. Josue S. Falla says:

    Great reflection, Bro. Rasor. I also critique (constructive criticisms that is) regularly the National Convention of the Philippine Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, and I could see myself in you. My missionary friends/couple Bill and Charliece Fierbaugh of Pioneer Bible Translators, attended that NACC as I understand. Hmmm, I also seem to like an idea in your conclusion that RM is now viewed as a heritage, rather than a movement. God bless. (Nueva Ecija, PHILIPPINES)

    • prasor says:

      Thank you for your reply. I hope all is well in the Philippines! I pray that the churches there are prospering.

  15. Thank you for your accurate description of the NACC. It’s sad that so many of our people want to be just like everybody else. Will someone start another convention some day to promote the principles that the NACC was begun to promote?
    David Bayless
    Belém, Brazil

  16. Gary Henline says:

    Thank you so much for your insights on this years NACC. You really struck a chord with why I have ceased going or even promoting the NACC. First and foremost because they are working very hard at changing the parameters of who we are as a movement. It’s evidenced in some of the responses that it is recognized we are quickly moving away from biblical authority and calling people to discipleship to a soft, more friendly version of the gospel. I think it can be seen as well in speaker choices (ie. Rick Warren and Craig Groschel) both coming from a faith only heritage that lacks teaching and preaching as the whole authority of the Scriptures. Second, things like the Welch interview. It appears as if it’s ok to be Christian and continue to sound like the world, and we encouraged that behavior by sending him out as a missionary? I have a feeling the planning won’t be getting any better. The 10k versus the 100k offering ought to be a clue. It’s too bad that the planners don’t seem to see these drifts.

    • prasor says:

      Gary, thank you so much for reading. I agree entirely with you. The only qualification I would offer is that if Brian “Head” Welch is no longer playing the obscene songs Korn used to play, then I’m fine with it. After all, too many times Christians are too willing to leave the culture to unbelievers. Christians really need to influence the culture where they are. Also, I’m not necessarily opposed to having a “faith only” speaker at the NACC, but I want it to be clearly articulated that such is a guest at our convention. The problem is that I got the impression that the NACC is just another evangelical gathering–a sort of “melting pot” if you will. This is a problem, precisely because this means the RM has no identity (and, possibly, those leading it do not want a unique identity?).

  17. Peter R.,

    About Brian “Head” Welch and Tim Harlow’s quasi-ordination of him as a missionary representing the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ: I was flabbergasted.

    Tim Harlow mentioned Welch’s stirring “I Am Second” video.

    He did not mention Welch’s “Flush” video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y66rzBgaogo

    • prasor says:

      Wow. Just wow. Thank you, James. This is a HUGE problem. How in the world could Tim Harlow send “Head” out as an official Restoration missionary after watching this provocative filth? I don’t care if “Head” is talking about how drugs enslave. This is sickening. Did I mention how disturbing this video is?

  18. Peter R.,

    And, yes, brother Welch is still accompanying songs such as “Y’all Want a Single” on guitar. For example at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph6zKrhxgiU .

  19. Travis Dowdy says:

    I have not attended a NACC in several years, but really appreciate your review. Unfortunately the leaders of the NACC have forgotten that 95% of the churches in the RM are not mega churches. and 95% of those non mega churches will never become mega churches. How about instead of telling everyone how great a job you have done growing churches, the speakers just preach the word. For many ministers who do not have the luxury of having associate ministers to fill in several times a year, this is the only time preachers get to hear great preaching. That’s what the NACC was and should be… a chance for preachers to recharge and be fed their daily bread. Unfortunately, the only mega church preachers that I have heard at the NACC that get this are Bob Russell and Wayne Smith.

    The churches of the Restoration Movement have started to lose focus on the simple point that we are all Christians and it’s not about us, but about Christ. The problem with mega churches is that the praise goes to the preacher at the mega church for growing the church and not to the God who actually does the forgiving and giving salvation.

    You hit the nail on the head when you talked about the money. I don’t need the experience of being in a production. I need the experience of being with thousands of Christians who uplift and encourage me once a year. This is why I stopped going to the convention. I want the focus to be on Christ and then on encouraging the ones dedicating their life to full time Christian service.

  20. Josiah says:

    Did you “listen attentively to all the speakers and focused my attention on my surroundings”, or did you “find yourself tuning out the speaker after 10 minutes of ‘story time'” Which is it, Mr. Razor?

    • prasor says:

      Thank you for reading, Josiah. You present a false choice here. One can listen attentively while also finding one’s self drifting away during “story time.” I’m sure you have found yourself doing this at some point with a preacher, when all of sudden you find yourself not paying attention. My “tuning out” was, in my opinion, because the stories added nothing to their presentation and lacked substance. I had to keep “bringing myself back” to what the speaker was saying, and upon “coming back,” he was often still going on about the same story–nothing missed, nothing gained (unfortunately).

  21. David Johnson says:

    Through the prophets, God loved people enough to warn them about the impending danger of their continued disbelief and disobedience. Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost (not the ‘missing’), loved people enough to speak more of God’s judgment and hell to unrepentant sinners than anyone else.
    Preaching and teaching that is lightweight and without much substance, not based on sound exegetical principles (most importantly context), and in many cases today, outright false in doctrine will not hold people for long. A man-centered, me-centered theology, which is popular today, more prominent in our Restoration churches, with preachers who mainly tell stories and talk about themselves instead of simply preaching the gospel, will not last. When the gospel is minimized or ignored, true power for conversion and change is lost. Christ is not exalted. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is undermined. People are not receiving the true cure for their sin problem they need.
    It is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, buried and resurrected that unsaved people, who are under God’s wrath, desperately need to hear! I pray for our churches, preachers and North American Christian Convention to return to Paul’s core belief and driving force when he said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

  22. Steven Johnson says:

    Good observation and a good read. But for my $.02 I have found that the right balance of a personal story mixed with God’s word and why I believe it works quite well. My personal experience is how I received the revelation that God is real. That was the starting point of learning God’s word and being able to not only preach it, teach it, and explain why I believe it. Other than that I found your thoughts very insightful.
    Just one minister’s opinion.

  23. Mike Baker says:

    Brother Rasor (and all who have commented),
    As the president of next year’s conventioni, I have read with great interest and prayerfully considered your blog and all comments to it thus far. My plea is that instead of avoid the NACC because of what “they” are doing to it, each of you would make it a point to come annually to become the “we” of influencing it for the future. One of the main pillars of our restoration heritage has been autonomy – and I think this is biblically sound. However, it means that there ALWAYS has been and ALWAYS will be room for Christian debate. We have said “in essentials unity and non essentials liberty” but what is essential is not defined by a denomination – nor is it defined by the continuation committee of the North American Christian Convention. Instead it is left up to the authority of the elders in each congregation under the authority of the inspired word of God by the direction of the Holy Spirit. And this means that sometimes we differ. But one of the strengths of our convention has been for us all to come together with our different perspectives to share what God is doing in each of our ministries and churches. Prayerfully, you will add your voice to this year’s convention by your presence. “We speak” (NACC 2015 in Cincinnati) will be a celebration of every voice involved in preaching, teaching, and witnessing in a way that changes the world with the gospel of Jesus. If you miss it, you’ll miss many great voices (from all segments of our movement) and worse, we’ll miss yours.

    • prasor says:

      Thank you, Mike, for taking the time to read my blog and respond. With a response such as yours, I usually reply with some thoughts of my own in order to open up dialogue. However, I will be busy with some family events for the next 2-3 days and so I presently do not have the time to respond thoroughly. I will do so in a few days. Again, thank you for reading and I look forward to getting back to you.

    • Eric Miller says:

      As a resident of Champaign, Illinois, I’m excited to see the preacher from a vibrant and growing Christian Church in Illinois serving God in such a role, let me say, first of all. Secondly, I agree with everything you’ve said. It’s the nature of the beast that when we come together as Christians, not everyone is going to agree. But we cannot shut down, move out, or otherwise disengage. We ought to come together in brotherly love and exhort one another. God willing, I’ll be at the conference next year to do just that.

    • Greg Taylor says:

      Mike, thanks for taking the high road and inviting others to be a part of the process – God bless you and the team who will be crafting the 2015 convention – excited to see details emerge! Hopefully by being a part of this conversation, your open heart and spirit will help soften hearts and minds.

    • Clay Henry says:

      Brother Baker,

      I have a comment on the statements “We have said “in essentials unity and non essentials liberty” but what is essential is not defined by a denomination – nor is it defined by the continuation committee of the North American Christian Convention. Instead it is left up to the authority of the elders in each congregation under the authority of the inspired word of God by the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

      While I agree with parts of the statements, I want to caution you about an implication of one of them. Essential means “absolutely necessary.” Therefore, if a teaching or practice is essential, it cannot be “left up to” any man, not even an elder, to ratify or declare it valid. An essential teaching or practice is something God has already declared absolutely necessary and therefore valid. Thus, the responsibility of the overseers of the churches in these matters (the “essentials”) is not to judge their validity but to faithfully uphold their validity.

      Thank you for your consideration.

      • Mike Baker says:

        well said, and I completely agree. I guess what I was getting at is that some would have differing lists of “absolutely necessary” even though we are reading the same Scriptures.

  24. Randy Moore says:

    As a late teen, I was drawn to the RM movement by it’s simple “back to the bible” approach. As I have grown to my senior years, I have observed the Christian Church becomming more and more another denomination like all the others. The younger leaders have little that is original – they simply mimic denominational mega church practices and work toward the now popular night club style worship (non participatory, perfprmacne based entertainment). The RM died years ago and many have tried to resurrect it with denominational practices and actions. I, myself have fallen prey to some of these temptations. Preach the word – reach the lost – follow our command of the great commission – quit trying to please itching ears and become mega church stars.

  25. Michael Vereen says:

    Mr. Prasor, thanks for your accurate candor. So true, there were good, there were bad, there were ugly. And from my perspective,(African-American)there were “missing”. Not in the context of our unbiblical speaker’s(Missing)comment. Not ,as a complaint, as an appeal. Intentional change needs to be implemented to appeal to a more diverse audience.(Re: Dream of Destiny) As a minority, abandoning NACC ,is not an option I choose.Presence has power. Power, to remind, to incite, to encourage, to suggest, that “We” are all pieces of a larger sum total. That any “pieces” missing subtracts from the numerical value of that total. Again this is an appeal! I’m a few days short of 15 years ,same church in S.C.;25 plus yrs.in the Restoration Movement. I still feel like I’m “missing”!(Lack of inclusion). “The “Skit” Can anybody see me?” NACC, please don’t miss that!

    • prasor says:

      Good point, Mr. Vereen. I agree that an intential inclusion is sometimes forgotten. However, there was one African-American speaker this year. But your point is still valid, especially in the RM as a whole.

  26. Jerry Thompson says:

    Not sure how to take most of this article…when God renews, uses, remakes, rebuilds a life or many lives and uses a group to host a national and international conference…why do we need anyone to put their bias or slant or opinion on it. Maybe those who put hours of work and time into it while serving God daily, can evaluate and debrief, and that can be beneficial…and Apparently God wanted all who were involved in it, as he does have the power to stop or start whatever pleases him. Not really sure how the good, bad and the ugly applies to the NCAA…but I regard it as opinion only…because his plans and purposes are much higher than mine. I have never heard one person say I came and took everything away, but have heard many say, there was something that really helped me and I’m so glad I was there…it’s kinda like a sermon on divorce…does not apply to me but does to some that I love. As for the use of others…Restoration movement says, “Not the only…just Christians only”…can that still apply. Sideline comment: my Marine son attends saddleback San Clemente and just recently called following a service and said , “dad someone wants to talk to you”, and it was Rick Warren…we didn’t debate anything but the one another encouragement stuff spoke loudly to my heart and this time of my life when I need brothers…and yes…he is one of my brothers…as I have many. I have them “on purpose”, because God has brought them into my life. Ok….done…

  27. discipleship guy says:

    I did find it interesting that Mr. Rasor’s reflections as well as the replies were all expressed as matters of opininon, with no reference to scripture (save David Johnson’s reference to Rom. 1:16- thank you David). That being said, I offer this quote from Alexander Campbell: “So long as unity of opinion was regarded as a proper basis of religious union, so long have mankind been distracted by the multiplicity and variety of opinions. To establish what is called a system of orthodox opinions as the bond of union, was, in fact, offering a premium for new diversities in opinion, and for increasing ad infinitum, opinions, sects, and divisions.”

    Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptist, vol. 1, pp.167-169.

    And now a reply from Colossians 3:12-14
    beginning with New International Version (NIV) but also using other versions because I’m not sure which one you all prefer.

    12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

    Colossians 3:12-14King James Version (KJV)

    12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

    13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

    14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

    Colossians 3:12-14New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and [a]patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is [b]the perfect bond of unity.

    And I thought I should also include the Message version, even though I know it is not a translation, I think it might capture the essence of this passage:

    Colossians 3:12-14The Message (MSG)

    12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

    John 17:17-23 NIV
    17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    Respectfully submitted.

  28. Jenise says:

    I enjoyed your comments – I love the honesty about the good, the bad, & the ugly!