So I finally am ready and able to reflect a bit on New Baptist Covenant.
First I want to speak to the spirit of those who attended the event. It really was something like I have not experienced before. There was real diversity and it was celebrated and enacted in our midst. There was outstanding preaching one after another. There was a unification of purpose among those in attendance.
At the event itself there was very little talk of politics, but of justice and our role in overcoming that vast injustices of our world.
I don’t know how to quantify whether such an event was a “success” or not, as so many people seem to want to ask. It certainly was no failure. Numbers seem to differ depending on who one talks to, but it seems at least 14000 Baptists registered for the event and it seems there was another significant number that may not have registered. It was very easy to enter the building without passing by the registration room.
I can’t speak for the overall success, I can say that it was, for me, exactly what I had hoped it would be. Great diversity was able to come together for common purposes and overlook non-essential differences. The racial diversity was encouraging and hopeful. Just as wonderful was the diversity of age represented. There were certainly plenty of retired persons who have the time and means to travel, as there are at every Baptist gathering. But there were much greater numbers of every age group (20s, 30s, 40s, etc) than any other gathering I have been to.
Particularly encouraging were the number of recent seminary grads who were there. I can’t speak for other seminaries, but I know at least 40 from Truett were there from all over the nation. Many of them paid their own way (out of their own pockets without Church support) to attend. It was incredible.
For me, this was the strength of the event. After powerful worship and impacting preaching, there were great numbers of peers available to debrief, visit, and process with. It was incredible to sit and discuss how all that was happening relates to us, our churches, our culture, and our world.
I believe most of the immediate impact of the event will lie in outcome of the discussions of application that happened after the plenary sessions ended at night.
Look tomorrow for a continuation of this discussion. I will discuss what I think might come out of this event.