Tina and I are at the Drive Conference hosted by Northpoint Community Church, located just outside of Atlanta. Northpoint is led by Andy Stanley, a well known preacher and writer whom I heard for the first time at Catalyst back in October.
That very same trip in October, Chris Kim showed me and Rich around Northpoint’s campus and I was smitten with their approach to ministry. Chris highly recommended the Drive Conference, and I started reading and listening to Andy Stanley more regularly. Since that visit, I must admit, I’ve drank the Kool-Aid and I’ve become a huge fan of Andy Stanley and Northpoint. Our teaching team even uses notes from Stanley’s talks on communicating.
I wanted most of our ministry staff to come to this conference too, but I knew it would be difficult since we just came off of our own conference (which was quite extraordinary in its own right, I think). Plus, I didn’t know what the experience would be like, so I decided to check it out first, and Tina came along to observe their children’s stuff that she can report back to Linda.
Anyhow, having been a bit disillusioned by Christian conferences, I came reluctantly but willingly because of Chris’s advice that we would get a hands-on look at how NP does things, rather than the broader vision type stuff that is found at most other conferences.
After tonight, I’m so glad I came.
It’s just really cool to see their entire staff engaged in this conference, and for some reason, that makes the experience that much more personal and real. It seems like everyone here has drank the Kool-Aid, which is meaningful for someone like me who can sense cynicism from far away since I can be one of the worst cynics [as a pastor] myself!
The opening was really well done and spectacular without feeling too forced, labored, or overdone, and then the worship ministered to us greatly (at first, I was a bit intimidated and uneasy because it’s a much bigger setting with incredible media and stage productions – this dis-ease faded after a few minutes into singing, though).
Andy Stanley gave a memorable talk about being able to dream of possibilities again because of the miracle of the resurrection and the spread of Christianity. His talk flowed seamlessly into communion, and I was so moved by the triumph of the cross over all these years. I wept while taking communion.
We then sang some more, and I think I sang louder than I ever had at a conference. I think it was the Kool-aid.
The crazy thing is, Tina, a conference novice (more than I), really felt ministered to tonight, and she’s downloading all these songs from Northpoint’s worship albums as we speak. She even said she’d like to subscribe to hearing Andy Stanley regularly (this is kind of a big deal to hear her say this – he’s one of two preachers I regularly listen to now).
The night was capped off by meeting NP’s partnering missionaries in Cebu, who were sitting in front of us. These missionaries also know and work with the Harners, NLF’s global partners in Cebu! Crazy.
We then ran into Chris, whom I thanked for convincing me to come.
We should be sleeping, but I wanted to capture my initial impressions with words.
We’re so looking forward to tomorrow.
With that said, I miss our bed in NYC!