DALLAS, TX (BP) – Among a sea of attendees and volunteers in the Dr. Pepper Arena, the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board's Send Conference challenged attendees to examine and redefine their lives on mission. More than 4,000 people paid and registered for the sold-out conference May 19-20 less than 30 miles north of Dallas in Frisco, Texas, which drew people from all states and three continents.
"Be careful not to manufacture a heart for missions outside a heart for Christ," IMB president David Platt said to the crowd during opening session. "There is no one without the other, and if you think there is, you've got to redefine your thinking. There are times in your life that are redefining, and that's what we're praying the next couple of days will be."
The theme, Redefine, brought church revitalizer John Herring of First Baptist Church in Prosper, Texas, back to Send even though he had attended the first one in Long Beach, Ca., earlier this year in February. This time, Herring brought 20 church members to Dallas for two days of biblical teaching and next steps. "The conference was encouraging and refreshing for us personally, and it was incredibly helpful for us in our work at First Prosper," Herring said. "We talk a lot about Jesus' mission at our church -- that we are called to be sent. Send helped us refocus on that mission and put feet to it."
Send in Dallas included worship led by Austin Stone Worship, Thomas Keys III and Crowder, and main sessions and breakouts with 30 diverse topics and speakers. "The breakout sessions were especially helpful," Herring noted. "At the conclusion of Send, my notebook was filled with pages of ideas and resources. What a blessing to have some 'blue sky' moments under the wisdom of these experienced leaders."
Church planter Aaron Clayton of Remedy Church in Waxahachie, Texas, was also taking notes with hopes to bring back "some nuts and bolts for how we can effectively equip and send church planters." "I am also looking forward to bringing back some fresh enthusiasm and energy," Clayton said. "I am hoping our people catch more of the vision for why and how they can live on mission in all of life. I hope they feel better equipped and more confident themselves and in their ability to rally together in community to live out the mission of God." With breakouts such as "Addressing poverty through local schools," "Risk in missions," "Leading women to advance the Gospel," "Leveraging the power of ordinary" and "Giving purpose to our jobs," the conference reinforced how every believer -- at any time -- can be on mission.
New Orleans youth minister and bivocational church planter Dallas Guidry, of Lakeshore Church in Louisiana, called the conference "unlike any other." "There are so many lost where our church plant is," Guidry said. "But it's all about relationships. Right now, I'm in seminary and coaching a baseball team. I'm developing trust and relationships with those around me by being engaged in the community. And coming to this Send conference, I feel more refreshed than ever. It's awesome to see how people here are so willing to support one another in living on mission for God's glory. Everything we do is for Him." A similar spirit and enthusiasm for missions gripped many hearts at the event. Georgia College and State University (GCSU) student Carson Gregors and her peers drove 14 hours to attend Send in Dallas.
Gregors and 12 others started Full Accord Ministry (FAM) to serve their fellow students on campus with authentic family relationships. They attended the Send Conference to take leadership tips and engagement tactics home to students at GCSU in Milledgeville, Ga. "I was especially looking forward to what Kathy Litton had to say about women in mission," she said. "She has incredible insight and hearing her breakout talk was inspiring. It was so great to hear such strong truth spoken over discipleship. It revolutionized how I'm going to approach my small group when I get back to school in the fall." "It's so encouraging to see thousands of people at an event focused on helping believers take Jesus to the people around them as an everyday lifestyle," said Kevin Ezell, NAMB's president. "I am thrilled as well to see such a young, diverse group. So many pastors worked hard to bring their people. The conference is for them, so it is great to see so many participate."
Every video, social media post, breakout and main session was designed to share messages that moved people toward their next missional opportunity. "It's exhilarating to see local churches taking mission seriously," Platt said. "And that's what this conference is all about: Men and women from churches in all 50 states and Canada -- and a few other countries, as well -- considering how God has sent them right where they live for the spread of the Gospel and contemplating where God might lead them around the world to people who've never heard of the Gospel. "It's an awesome sight," he said, "to see thousands of people at a conference representing thousands of churches in the SBC and beyond who together are saying that we want to spend our lives making disciples from our neighbors to the nations."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josie Bingham is a writer for the North American Mission Board.