NASHVILLE (BP) – Worship led by Michael W. Smith and CeCe Winans, a rousing sermon from Tony Evans and a concert by Crowder kicked off the Send Conference 2021 Sunday night (June 13) at Music City Center.
Actually, the event started a little earlier, with a powerful prayer session led by Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in nearby Hendersonville, Tenn. Although the Send Conference, co-hosted by the International Mission Board (IMB) and North American Mission Board (NAMB), will feature plenty of preaching, Gallaty exhorted pastors to return to the basic spiritual practices of seeking intentional silence and solitude and listening to the Holy Spirit’s still, small whisper.
“We cannot sermonize our way out of this current moment, so we need to be in tune with the God who tells us to lean in and rest,” he said.
Afterward, a crowd estimated at nearly 10,000 gathered. Smith and Winans, who was a surprise guest, led worship before NAMB President Kevin Ezell and IMB President Paul Chitwood introduced Evans, the night’s keynote speaker.
Evans drew parallels between his son’s tenure with the Tennessee Titans and the notion of two teams running in opposite directions with opposite goals – a metaphor for the nation’s current political and cultural divides. Acknowledging the racial tensions and class conflicts of the day, Evans petitioned Christians to be the third team on the field of life: officials who are on the field, not of the field.
Evans said referees know they may be booed by angry parties on both teams, but they understand they are not meant to be liked and rather simply abide by the rulebook that dictates the game.
“The real problem arises when the officiating authorities start wearing opposing team jerseys because it is then that they lose their third-party authority in the game,” Evans said. “We carry Kingdom authority as His officials, but many people are so heavenly-minded that they’re not helpful on earth while others are so earthly-minded that they’re no help to heaven.
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Source: Natalie Sarrett, Baptist Press