The 2011 Orange Conference officially began tonight with the first main session. After some music and a video presentation, we were able to hear from Andy Stanley. His purpose for the night, according to him, was to tell us how important we are. In order to do that, he walked through the history of the church, showing us how important the church was all along.
To start with, we looked at the birth of the church. It was born around a movement. The glue of all believers/churches is the resurrection of Jesus.
The thing that propelled the church out of the first century was their unique ethic and morality centered around generosity and love. They led with the idea that everyone is made in the image of God, which was completely counter-cultural for the pagans.
After the first century, a series of plagues ripped through that part of the world. The Christians’ response to them captured the eyes of the pagans. Instead of fleeing, they stayed and took care of their friends and neighbors; they did not fear death. Andy stated that “the church is more important than you will ever imagine, and you are part of that.”
He spent some time looking at Galatians 5: 13-26. The human nature list Paul gives is the oposite of the fruit of the Spirit he lists later. Andy pointed the second half of verse 23. All our laws are in place to keep us safe from human nature. If we are truly living out the fruit of the Spirit, there is no need for law.
Andy then asked what would happen if all that disappeared…if the church disappeared? He stated that we are extremely important. We bring generosity and compassion that is supernatural! The world will know we are followers of Christ by our love for one another.
He closed with the following words that he had woven in throughout his entire talk. “We are stewards of the message of eternal life; we are also the stewards of the message of better life!”
While this was not an extremely educational talk, it was very inspirational. In ministry, you need those moments every so often. It is discouraging, and it is very easy to forget some of these ideas. Sure, God does not need us, but He wants to use us. Because He wants to use us, we are VERY important to His plan. Thanks, Andy, for that reminder!
Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church. He also founded North Point Ministries, which is a worldwide Christian organization.
Andy received a bachelor’s degree of journalism from Georgia State University and later earned a masters degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. After working for several years as Associate Pastor and Minister to Students at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, he and five others founded North Point Community Church in 1995. The church has now grown to three campuses and over 40,000+ attenders each week. North Point Ministries has also helped plant nearly 20 strategic partner churches in the US and Canada.
Andy now lives in Alpharetta, Georgia with his wife, Sandra, and his three children: Andrew, Garrett, and Alli