Interview with Andrew Palau on Post DC Festival Efforts

WASHINGTON – Organizers of the DC Luis Palau Festival that left the National Mall two months ago joined together Friday to maximize the impact of the festival that drew the participation of tens of thousands of people.

While the 118,332 congressional senators, business leaders, women, children and the rest of the Tri-State area residents that had participated in the recent DC Palau activities have dispersed across their communities, back to their workplaces and schools, leaders of churches and Christian organizations who were active participants and organizers for the festival held a follow-up meeting at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. to keep the momentum of the evangelistic festival running.

"Our commitment is for the long term," said Andrew Palau, one of Luis' four sons and national festival director. "It's not about the event. It's the continuum."

In an interview with The Christian Post, Palau spoke of the ongoing communication between all the churches that participated in the DC Festival and the efforts and works of the local churches to further the impact of the evangelistic event.

The following excerpts were taken from the interview:

Some of the church leaders and festival organizers convened recently for the follow-up meeting. Would you want this to be an effort for all 899 churches that had participated or is that something a little far-fetched at this time?

No, we have ongoing communications with all of the churches that had participated. Naturally, we referred into all of the churches the decision makers. About 70+ percent of those were referred to the church because friends from that church had brought them. We're continuing communication with them on that most important task. There are still four of us on staff here. Nick Greener (church relations director) has been calling and visiting churches starting with those who received the most [decision makers] and is working his way down to just call and check up and ask “How's it going?”

Additionally, we were communicating with them about the mission accomplished, as far as the event on the mall, but the momentum to harvest souls and transform life is continuing as you heard through the airings nationally and internationally of that Palau Fest TV special The Unusual Suspects. A lot of the prayer groups are beginning to undergird that with prayer and a lot of the churches are getting that communication to say, ‘You can promote these in your churches as one more tool along the way.’

A lot of the momentum naturally of 900 churches will realistically move into a different phase and we're keeping communication with them. But that catalytic focus of that one activity in addition to having five full time staff members working diligently to communicate all the activities to those churches, those are what keep such a large historic gathering of churches sustainable. Now that a lot of that is dropping back, what you look for is the continuing impact of the relationships that were built along the way.

How does the recent Palau broadcast work in terms of continuing the momentum?

Locally, it's a great tool, but that tool is uniquely valuable here because the backdrop of The Unusual Suspects was the DC Festival. So for around here, for believers, it focuses on evangelism; if you missed the festival, that's one way to pick it up, or for those who came and didn't make a decision during the festival, you can use this tool in the church. It’s uniquely valuable to the area, but also, we did the massive purchase to broadcast it around the nation. Regionally, it’s super impacting because it’s close to home.

In addition to following up the individuals who came to Christ at the festival, working with the churches, this is an ongoing evangelism strategy; and then on top of that, there are stuff that we can be involved with. [For example], the local leaders asking for wisdom [at the follow-up meeting] as to what they can do in a sense outside of the Palau team to maintain that momentum into the days ahead.

The participants at the meeting emphasized unity and admitted to struggling with unity even amongst themselves. The Palau ministry works to set that base to help local churches build relationships. Over the years you’ve been working with the festivals, what kinds of unity problems have you been seeing? Is there anything specific you can pinpoint?

Regarding unity, I think Harold Brinkley stated it pretty well – there are just different types and levels of unity. The most important of which is the strong reality that we are one through the bonds of Christ and that unity is real whether we like it or not. It’s really just what kind of expressions of that reality can we provide to the world and to each other.

The challenges to those expressions I think are just busyness and geography. Our experience when I come to town is not so much an issue of the churches not wanting to work together or deep-seeded animosity towards each other. They're just busy and they don't understand each other and they feel insecurity based on lack of knowledge. So we found that the vast majority of issues slough off almost immediately upon making a connection, sitting over lunch, going out as families, pastor to pastor, at the leadership level, because there was no real particular issue related to disunity. We just don't know each other and what a thrill it is to be together and that's what we found. The festival is to just draw people together to break down a lot of those, barriers is too strong a word, lack of familiarity that really helps a lot. Those are all just sort of obvious natural challenges that we face as a body of Christ.

Bishop Michael Kelsey mentioned that they hadn’t reached the full potential of what could’ve been done with the opportunity that the DC Festival had given. What more, would you say, could’ve been done?

I think that was just an expression. Bishop Kelsey and others really experienced such tremendous blessings being involved. I think he just realizes, ‘Wow, just imagine if everyone had the experience we had. How advanced we can be.’ I think it was just an expression to say those things can continue to happen as we press forward with the difficult work of finding ways to connect. The festival provided a tremendous one for many people, but there's just much, much more work to do.

In your next few months here in DC, what do you wish to see among the local churches?

We're just going to continue to do follow-up with individuals and churches, those who made decisions for the Lord. We also want to honor God, putting our best foot forward to draw relationships together in a continuing way. Sometimes at a big event, in seasons of great busyness, a lot of relationships just slip away, but what we can do is grab the two hands together and link them so that those relationships do gather a sense of an ongoing age to them. They just weren't about relating around a festival activity but they were relating around themselves, friendship, vision, and by the spirit. Any particular activities that have an impetus to move forward, we would like to find out if there are ways to serve those. Those are the things we are investigating.

Local leaders found that the best way forward is to form a task force and then to keep the broader group informed of particulars. That's one angle on the leadership level. We'll be primarily with churches; we pass the baton of follow-up into the churches.