Friday, July 15, 2011

Grand Ol' Assembly

Well, it was hot in Nashville. I think they may have set a record for heat this week, along with a few other cities across the middle of the country.

The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was well worth the time and effort to be there. We saw many friends and colleagues from other places, and enjoyed the Nashville ambiance. The worship services and music were terrific.

I had no idea that cowboy boots were such a big deal in Nashville, but along Broadway there were numerous shops offering wide-ranging styles, designs and prices. My favorites were sized for young cowpokes. The tiny boots had lights in the heels that flashed with each stomp.

At several places along the way, wanna-be singers were set up offering their passion and talents in the hopes of being discovered.

The fun part of our hotel stay was the fact that Little Richard was a guest there, as well. We had just seen him on television, as he performed at the Capitol Fourth celebration on PBS. So, it was a surprise to see him up close and personal at our hotel in Nashville. As Little Richard said to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show quite a few years ago, "The beauty is still on duty!"

Probably the most memorable phrase from the line-up of outstanding speakers at the assembly was this: "Heaven is not a gated community." I forget now who said it, perhaps Fred Craddock, the revered elder statesman preacher and storyteller of our denomination. But, the point is clear, and was made numerous times throughout the gathering.

There was a lot of talk at the assembly about transformation of congregations and their ministries. One insightful observation was that transformation and revitalization are not the same. Revitalization is more re-building what once existed, while transformation is making something new entirely. What the church needs is transformation. Revitalization is a nostalgic pipe dream.

The theme of the assembly was "Tell It!" and several speakers did just that. Now, if only the other 5,000+ of us who were there will follow suit, transformation may become a reality for our congregations.

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