I came back from the convention on Friday, but I wanted to post a couple more things I heard and experienced that you might find of some interest.
Thursday evening, I attended a seminar led by Dino Rizzo, pastor of The Healing Place in Baton Rouge, LA. The seminar was basically a walk-through of their ministry values and habits. One thing they preach consistently--that I liked very much--was the idea that Jesus, while surrounded by crowds, was always interested in the individual. He stopped to heal a woman with an issue of blood, or to touch a leper, or to heal a centurion's servant. He came to save the World, but He always had time for one person. At the Healing Place, their ministry motto is, "we don't give titles, we give towels," based on the story of Jesus washing His disciples' feet in John 13.
Friday morning, I attended a seminar led by Bob Roberts, who pastors Northwood Church in Keller, TX. His church has planted 89 new churches in the US, but is known for international mission work. His "a-ha moment" years ago was when he realized that in the early church, Christians didn't pay professionals to be missionaries, the churches were the missionaries. (He stressed that he isn't against full-time professional missionaries, as his daughter is considering going to the mission field. He just doesn't think churches should end their mission involvement at giving funds). His church chose to adopt a city in Vietnam, and have since seen hundreds of their members do real "foreign missions." Some have hosted Vietnamese exchange students for a year. Others have traveled to Vietnam to help with various kinds of relief work, such as teachers who helped design a new special education curriculum for Vietnamese schools. Bob himself has traveled the world doing mission work and representing Christ. You can check out his blog for more information: http://www.glocal.net/
One interesting note came during a question-and-answer time. Someone in the crowd asked Bob how the election of Barrack Obama has affected Christian work overseas, especially in Muslim countries. He said that Obama's story has been an eye-opener for Muslims who are drawn to Christianity. In these cultures, where often it is seen as imperative for a child to follow his or her father's faith, it is noteworthy to see a prominent man whose father was a Muslim, but who as an adult is a professing Christian. This has opened doors for conversion to Christ.