Last week, I attended the Unity Through Fellowship Conference with Pastors Tony and Kathy in Newark, Delaware. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I knew only a few people who would be there, so I figured I would have fun hanging with good ministry friends whom I only get to see once every year or two.
We arrived at the hotel, got checked in, met up with some friends for dinner, then went to the conference center where all the Jesus stuff would happen. I walked in, didn’t really recognize anyone except a select few, and sat down in a chair on the front row.
Then, the service started.
And……….I swear I was 5 yrs old again, playing with Hot Wheels under the seats in our old church building. What is this music? It was straight out of the ’90s top 10 worship songs. “Unreal,” I thought.
The crowd got so into it. (These songs were from their prime ministry years, after all – crowd favorites.) So I stood there and clapped with these throwback songs, and sang a bit (the ones I could remember). It was fun, energetic, and even cheesy (for a youthful chap like me). But God was there. The people were worshipping. And the band was rejoicing. I had no choice but to enjoy the moment.
After the worship, Pastor Pruitt facilitated the meeting. He is basically the central minister that everyone had in common who was there. He talked some, and other quirky, neat specials were done by some kids. Then he offered up a brief message from the Word. It was solid, and I took much wisdom away from it.
The rest of the services throughout the week were very similar in nature to the first. Throwback worship. Old fashioned message. General ’80s/90s feel to the conference. Obviously, because these were people who had been in ministry for decades.
They were old.
The majority of them looked weathered, and slightly tired from years and years of pouring into empty and distressed souls. I don’t blame them. But here’s what struck me as truly admirable. These people have been in ministry for a very long time. Yet they still long to win hearts for the Lord. They have been fervent in serving, praying, and reaching out to others for most of their lives. Now I haven’t even been alive for half as long as most of these people. My perspective and idea of ministry and outreach may very well be much different.
I am young.
But you know what? There is so much to learn from the older, wiser individuals who have been in ministry for much longer than myself. Sure their songs may be outdated, and their preaching style wouldn’t keep the attention of a teen/twenty-something for more than 5 minutes, BUT they understand what God’s word says a heck of a lot better than I do.
I guess the whole reason for what I’m saying is this: I am overwhelmingly encouraged by the steadfastness and faithfulness to God of these old men and women. No matter how different I find myself to be (or any young person in ministry), God is the same. The years of service these people put in all in the name of the Gospel inspires me, that I can and will do the same. If they can stay in this tough business of loving the mess out of people who hate you back for this long, then I know I can, too.
God is good. That is all.
open door church