LOS ANGELES – Together L.A., a three day conference featuring close to 50 speakers primarily discussing how churches and ministries can effectively collaborate to show the love of Christ to the city, concluded with best-selling author and pastor Tim Keller speaking about individual identity before 2,000 people in attendance last Saturday.
"Christianity doesn't just give you a new identity it gives you a radical way of forming an identity," said Keller, pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. "It gives you a unique, liberating and infinitely better identity than the one the culture is imposing on you right now."
Throughout the conference, Keller and other speakers discussed practical steps and gave examples of how the Christian community is tackling hard social issues. However, Keller's closing message was more about how Christians walking in faith can overcome skewed expectations from society.
He added that "our culture thoroughly rejects the idea that we need someone else to name us and give us an identity."
"When you accept Christ you have the only identity on earth that is received not achieved," Keller explained. Later, he said, "The only person in the whole universe whose opinion counts is God."
Church planter and Together LA lead organizer Pastor Brannin Pitre told The Christian Post that the conference held at West Angeles Church of God in Christ and livestreamed over the Internet by Biola University exceeded many of his expectations.
"The participants have said over and over again that they now understand the vision of being together; and they love it," Pitre said. "I was really surprised by the positive feedback. I am used to such a critical spirit when it comes to large events or planting churches. Everyone has their ideas of how it should be done or all the ways that you didn't meet their needs. But, at least for these three days, I heard nothing of the sort. …the spirit of gracious partnership and genuine togetherness across racial and cultural divides was wonderful and surprising to me."
When asked about what happens as a follow-up to the conference, he replied, "I think people have been praying for this for a while. They just didn't know how it would come together (no pun intended). Now, we have to make sure 'togetherness' is worked out. We have to seek to partner together and support one another. If we don't, the conference is a tragedy."
In a previous interview with CP, Pitre said that showing the love of Jesus to Los Angeles includes "massive ideals that we are trying to capture and we just can't do it in three days, but what we can do is begin to say I'm going to lay down my empire, I'm going to lay down my agenda, I'm going to lay down my role and I'm going to work with you. And it's going to take 5, 10, 15, 20 years, but I'm committed to that. I'm going to walk with you. I'm not going to leave you alone and if it means giving up time in my own ministry to do this, have to give up time with my family or whatever else, it's important enough that we do it together."