DALLAS (BP)–Approximately 2,700 people, including 2,500 college students, converged on Dallas Jan. 4-7, for DestiNATIONS, a conference designed to educate and inspire students about missions.
The Christian life is “not about the things that you bring to this God,” said Mike Stroope. It’s about “dead corpses” to whom God brings life.
Stroope, former missionary for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and current president of All Peoples, a church mobilization organization, spoke on the opening night of DestiNATIONS.
“The question before you,” Stroope said, is “will you live unto your name, your purposes, … or will you die?”
“We no longer kill bulls or pigeons; that’s Old Testament,” he said. “We present our bodies as living sacrifices.”
A long-time missionary himself, Stroope said he has seen people go halfway around the world but never die to self. People choose one of two directions in life, he said. They either give their lives to God’s glory or to their own. God, however, is the “rightful person to receive glory to His name.”
Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic Church and president of Global Impact in Los Angeles, challenged students to boldly claim cities for God.
“There are synonyms for the word urbanization,” McManus said. “One is edge. The second word is future. If you want to live on what people call the cutting edge, you have to go to the cities.”
Reading from Deuteronomy 2:36, McManus asked, “Do you believe there is no city too high for the Lord? Do you believe God could deliver every city on the face of this earth to his people for his glory?”
McManus said God gave him a vision years ago to claim Los Angeles for God. But when it came to buying a meeting place, his small congregation did not have enough money to purchase a nightclub that was for sale. Years went by and the nightclub was sold. After a quick meeting between McManus and the new owners, the congregation was allowed to rent the club on Sundays for a nominal fee.
McManus and his congregation began to pray about how to market their church, since they had no money for promotions. About that time, the Los Angeles Times newspaper did a full page story about “the church in a nightclub.” Following publication of the article, a local television station did a centerpiece story for the evening news about the church, and the story ran two weeks in a row.
McManus concluded by challenging the students to take a stand and fight for their cities. He encouraged them to intercede in prayer for their hometowns and to consider moving into urban areas.
“I believe God can change the world one city at a time,” he said.
Dieter Zander, of San Francisco, leader of Church Planting Movement in Postmodern America, led a seminar in which he redefined the meaning of church and predicted characteristics of the future church.
He said the church “is not a building, event, spiritual shopping mall or club you join. The church is, in one word, people.” More specifically, Zander said, “The church is people vitally connected and committed to Jesus Christ, each other and God’s purpose in the world.”
God’s purpose, according to Zander, is not to get people into heaven. Rather, he said, God’s purpose is to bless Christians so that they can bless the world.
Based on his observations of college students, Zander said this generation is the most technically savvy, globally connected and streetwise generation ever. These characteristics, he said, will lead to a future church that is community oriented, faith-life integrated, hyper-creative, supernatural and focused on doing good.
“Friends, you are the future of the church,” he said. “And you will have a hand in defining what the future church will look like.”
Voddie Baucham, an evangelist from Houston, and director of Voddie Baucham Ministries in Oxford, England, concluded the conference with a message entitled, “The Indwelling Christ.” He told the students that God has a purpose larger than any one person, but that the Spirit of God allows each Christian to participate in God’s plan. Baucham also stressed the importance of taking the gospel to the world.
“It is estimated that there are about 1.8 billion people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus,” he said. “There’s a reason that there is an urgency about the gospel, and that reason is that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father unless they come through Him!
“You were put together by God uniquely, and there is no one like you in all of the earth,” he said. “There is a place in this world for you alone where you will serve God.”
Students who attended the conference also heard testimonies from missionaries who are serving overseas and nationally. Throughout the event, students were able to learn about opportunities for mission work and given opportunities to commit to serve.
DestiNATIONS was a Southern Baptist missions conference jointly sponsored by the state Baptist conventions, LifeWay Christian Resources, the International and North American mission boards and Woman’s Missionary Union.
Ferrell Foster contributed to this article. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ERWIN MCMANUS, DESTINATIONS, DERRICK THOMAS, FELLOWSHIP and JEFF LEWIS.