By Carl Stagner
You would’ve thought you were in a sports stadium. The sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, was loud—not because a celebrity athlete was making a great play, but because the Word of God was being preached with conviction and the Spirit’s presence was powerful. From the worship to the fellowship to the receptions, everything came together to drive home the theme of the Regional Convention and hint at next year’s Convention theme. For when God’s people are gathered with Jesus as the subject and begin to reclaim what hell has stolen, the life received is life that cannot be contained! Even Church of God Ministries staff who have attended two or three Regionals to this point have said there was something uniquely special about #LifeColumbus.
“Accept the gift of life. Then activate it and advertise it. A gift is useless if not activated!” Timothy Clarke, host pastor proclaimed on Wednesday morning.
“I’ve never seen salt do any good while it’s still in the shaker!” Harvey Carey, regional guest speaker exclaimed on Wednesday night.
Indeed, such statements should be commonly understood among Christians, but the combination of the Spirit’s conviction, anointed speakers, and a general realization that now—not later—is the time for God’s people to act, made Wednesday’s takeaways especially meaningful. But as it was said in the morning, “A lot of people settle for a cheap imitation of life,” making it clearer than ever that repentance and revival must begin in the church. And that’s not always comfortable. So, as Harvey Carey challenged, “Hear the call of God on your life and do something about it!”
Many did. And many continue to do so, including the oldest and youngest among us. In fact, the youngest continue to be challenged and touched by the Spirit while the ONE Event wraps up on Thursday afternoon. The ONE Event, which brought together students representing IYC, NIYC, and the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), is already cementing friendships across cultural lines and setting the example for the rest of us. Through worship, games (including skating on Wednesday night!), and community service, the younger generation is saying No to division and Yes to unity in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the subject.
Can this unity spread beyond such mountain-top experiences? Can “Jesus is the subject” be lived out beyond our national and regional gatherings? Can we give life, rather than suck it out of the rooms we enter? “If [the Woman at the Well’s] influence could lead her whole village to Christ, what could yours do?” Rachel Mashack Nelson’s admonition given at the CWC luncheon on Wednesday suggests we begin with what we can do. Jo Anne Lyon’s words are also fitting for us to ponder: “God wants to break our imaginations because our imaginations are too small!”
Thank you, again, to the staff and volunteers of First Church of God for your fine hospitality throughout this third Regional Convention of the year!
Did you miss #LifeColumbus? Plan now to join us in Fairfax, Virginia (September 18–19) or Safety Harbor, Florida (September 25–26). Visit www.chogconvention.org today!