I spent last week in Birmingham, Alabama for the ARC Conference. I’m continually impressed by ARC and the level of excellence that surrounds everything they do. It’s a long way from Spokane to Birmingham. But every time I get the opportunity to spend time there, I’m inspired and encouraged to take everything we do to new levels.
There were some incredible moments over the 2-day conference. I thought I’d share with you some of the best.
1. John Gray
If you’ve never heard of John Gray, you need to check him out. The guy is flat out the funniest preacher I’ve ever heard. He’s got the ability to get you rolling with laughter and then drop a bomb of revelation from the scripture that blows your mind.
John’s message to ARC was about Jesus’ road from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross. It was filled with insight and a challenge to accept God’s call to the place of crushing in order to sow your life for the cause of the gospel. My favorite quote from his message:
“Jesus planted himself in the ground, so you could plant yourself in your city.”
2. Chris Hodges
One of my favorite things about ARC conferences is the world-class lineup of speakers. The general sessions are non-stop wisdom and grace-filled instruction. And then you head to the App Sessions and hear from some of the best leaders in the Body of Christ…in a smaller environment that allows for questions. What kind of conference has leaders like Larry Stockstill and John & Lisa Bevere teaching breakout sessions? These guys are some of the very best.
Yet after getting to hear so many amazing leaders, it’s Chris Hodges’ words that stick in my heart and mind. When I’m riding home on the plane and compiling a list of action items to attend to when I’m back in Spokane, it’s Pastor Chris’ messages that weigh heaviest upon my mind. He has been chosen by God to help lead this movement of church planters and I’m so thankful that God connected us.
Pastor Chris’ message on Tuesday night was my favorite of the week. He focused on the most important aspect of life and ministry: relationships. He unveiled how the enemy would like nothing more than to keep us from having deep and intimate relationships in all areas of life because it’s intimacy that leads to reproduction and multiplication. Progress and growth in our life and ministry is totally dependent on removing our masks and being authentic with those that the Lord’s called us into relationship with. I loved his thought reflecting on Proverbs 27:6 –
“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”
3. Church of the Highlands Worship Team
These guys are soooooo good. It’s really nice to get caught up into God’s presence without worrying about what comes next. That’s a rarity for me these days. I’m grateful for the worship at ARC that was led by worship leaders from across the nation. Every single one was fantastic. But there was this one moment where the Highlands Team led a rendition of “O Praise the Name”. We did this song for Easter…but this arrangement was amazing. Heaven came down.
4. Willie George
Willie George is the Lead Pastor of Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s a legend. Jamie and I spent several years serving in a youth ministry called “Oneighty” in at Westside Church. Willie George was the guy who started this movement to reach youth back in the 90’s. His message was the most intellectually deep as he unpacked the 4 faces of leadership from Ezekiel 1. It was fascinating to see the principles in play in Jesus’ life throughout the 4 gospels and then have them applied to my life as a spiritual leader. As he was wrapping up, only one word came to mind – “Masterful”. Willie taught us that as leaders we are called to:
– Overcome death by resurrection power
My favorite quote from his message:
“All crosses are temporary. We will be called on to go to a cross, but every death is followed by a glorious resurrection.”
5. After Party
Every time I’m around the ARC family they are finding a way to bless me. This year was no exception. Free bottled water and coffee. Free T-Shirts. Really nice dessert bars (again free). Breakfast and lunch provided for us on both days. And then to finish it all of they threw a really cool “after party” on the front lawn. Live music out on a stage. Amazing BBQ catered by Jim and Nicks. S’mores and banana pudding. It all ended with a fireworks display! Are you kidding me? Who has fireworks for their conference?? The after party gave us all time to enjoy each other and build relationships that will strengthen us in the days to come.
I’m always impressed by what ARC has up their sleeve. I’m blessed to be a part of this tribe. Thank you, ARC. This church planter is filled up and ready to keep pressing in.