SAN DIEGO – Some 1,500 church and ministry leaders converged in San Diego this week to get in on the latest conversations on what's working to bring people to Christ.
For InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on the University of California, San Diego campus, altar calls are back. For a group of burned out evangelicals in Costa Mesa, liturgy is bringing them back in tune with God. And for a megachurch in Naperville, Ill., new expressions of church (multi-site) are helping them reach the lost.
Those are just some of the ideas that pastors were introduced to during the National Outreach Convention this past week. One of the largest events of its kind, the NOC brings together hundreds of church leaders every year to equip them for more effective outreach through renowned speakers, the latest tools and the opportunity to network with others who are passionately focused on evangelism.
Looking to bring some tools and ideas back home and contextualize them in their communities, attendees participated in three days of discussions and breakout sessions.
"I think the multi-site is the new seeker church movement," Rick Richardson, associate professor at Wheaton College and associate evangelist with InterVarsity, hypothesized in a discussion group on "The Changing Face of Evangelism" Friday.
"Jesus and justice campaigns can be the new crusade evangelism," he added.
Along with some practical tools, attendees received a greater dose of spiritual encouragement from well-known church pastors with decades of ministry behind them.
"This is what I discovered ... discouragement is occupational hazard in ministry," Greg Surratt, founding pastor of Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., told fellow ministry leaders.
"Ministry can break your spirit, sap your strength," he acknowledged. "It's important that we learn how to guard our hearts or we'll burn out in this thing called ministry."
Surratt encouraged them to remember their divine calling.
"Remember that God has chosen you ... He has a calling on your life ... and on your worst day don't you dare forget that," he stressed.
The National Outreach Convention was held Nov. 4-6 with the theme "Shine Bright." Some of the speakers this year included missiologist Ed Stetzer, sought-after speaker Efrem Smith, Miles McPherson of Rock Church in San Diego, Dr. Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla., and Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The annual event is hosted by Outreach Magazine.