BIG DAY – The Birth of our “Baby”

I have a few babies.

As of this writing, I have Abe, Charlotte, Gwen, and the Preaching Rally.

Yep, the Preaching Rally is my baby. That is, it takes up time, it involves some baby food and fruit roll-ups, it spits up on me a little, it keeps me up at night, and it’s a LOT of work. Yet, it is so rewarding. And fun.

The Preaching Rally has been my baby since 2011. Interning at Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, OK, I was exposed to the planning and executing of the Men’s Advance, an annual men’s conference for almost 2,000 attendees. The Men’s Advance is a content-driven 2-day men’s preaching conference with six sessions: four by the church staff on the theme, and two by a guest preacher. Each aspect of the Men’s Advance served the theme, and drove the point home.

I used the Men’s Advance as a model for the Preaching Rally. I wanted a content-rich, well-run conference which promoted the preaching of God’s Word as the highlight of the day. While youth rallies might be beneficial, I wanted MORE content without sacrificing the fun aspect of a group of teens. So, we brainstormed and crafted the basic structure for what the Preaching Rally was to become.

I pitched the idea to my wife, and she loved it. This was November, 2010. “Okay. Here goes!” I told her. “Time to ask my dad!”

My dad–and my boss, Pastor W. M. Rench–was working on a church project at his shop at home, about a half mile from the church, up a washboard dirt road. I rattled my way to him in my white Chevy Silverado, parked in front of the shop, grabbed my yellow file folder with my scrap notes and stepped out.

“I’ve got an idea,” I said.

Dad got that nervous, what-will-this-cost-the-church look on his face.

“I’d like to create a one-day youth conference that churches in Southern California can come to trust as an incredible, content-rich day that will help their teens. I want to make a day of fiery preaching, a perfect schedule, good food, and still make it really fun. I’m thinking we can model it after the Men’s Advance, with three sessions all in one day, all focused on one theme.”

He did not have much more to say than, “Mm-hm. I like it. I like it! What will it cost?”

“I’ll cover all the costs in the admission.”

“Good,” he said. “When are you thinking?”

“February,” I said. “That will give us this month (November) to announce the date, December to announce the theme, January to send the promo materials and the churches can promote it for 3-4 weeks before the event in February.”

We hashed out a few more details–the date, the preacher, some key leaders from our church–and that was it. We were off and running on our first annual Preaching Rally.

We set out to work. We laid out timelines, broke the event into various areas, set leaders (we called them chiefs) over each area, gathered volunteer lists and planned for a great Preaching Rally. We wanted to do our due diligence to ensure that OUR part was complete. If God saw fit to bless our efforts, we would praise Him for doing HIS part.

The foundation to the Preaching Rally has remained essentially unchanged. Our church hosts the Preaching Rally to provide an excellent day of focused, encouraging preaching on one theme. We call it a one-day youth conference because we have three preaching sessions, like three points to a sermon, all centered on the same content. From the moment our guests first hear about the Preaching Rally to the time they leave, everything–everything–serves the content. The graphics, decorations, games, food, written materials, songs, and the preaching all serve the theme in some way, and I hope this series of articles helps you see how.

From the practical standpoint, this series will show WHAT we do and HOW we do each aspect of the Preaching Rally. From the philosophical standpoint, it will show WHY we focus on each detail of the Preaching Rally. It all starts with the WHY, and then moves through the WHAT and the HOW.