Donald Miller spoke at Northminster last Wednesday night, and it was an amazing event! Logan and Ronnie found us backstage and Ronnie took this picture. Logan has on his official “Event Staff” t-shirt.
It takes a village to host an event like this. Mary Beth coordinated a great group of volunteers. You guys are the best!! Don and his manager Brett were lavish with their praise for how well everything ran. We welcomed about 450 people into our sanctuary. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it: 450 people paying $12-15 to hear an author speak for an hour and a half.
I got to introduce Don (more about that below). First, I picked him up at his hotel, and we had about an hour together before he spoke. What a humble, kind, thoughtful guy. He asked questions about Richmond as we drove, and he was especially interested in VCU, so we detoured through the campus on the way to Northminster. At the church several folks snuck backstage before the show, and he was extraordinarily gracious with everyone—autographs, pictures, the whole bit.
I figured that since I was introducing him I would have the chance to tell the audience a little about Northminster. I guessed that 30 seconds was my limit for a commercial if I wanted it to have a positive impact. So how do you describe our church in half a minute? Here’s what I came up with:
What distinguishes Northminster is our diversity: this congregation is racially diverse, socio-economically diverse, generationally diverse. And there is a richness in this diversity. Our calling is to love God, to love people and in the process to see lives transformed. Our focus is action and contemplation, we build relationships by participating in worship and working together for social justice. If this sounds like good news to you, and you are not connected with a congregation, we would love for you to check us out on Sunday.
Then it was on to the introduction. I have enjoyed Don’s books a lot. I appreciate how he has been open about his life, his journey, his quest for an authentic faith. During the introduction, I mentioned a couple of obscure facts about him, and then I referenced a recent blog in which he suggests that from time to time it is good for pastors to ask people to leave the church if they’re not serious about living out their faith. It was good for a laugh. Here’s how I concluded the introduction:
As I prayed about out how to introduce Don, this is what I was given. About 40 years ago Glen Hinson wrote a book called Seekers After Mature Faith. This title describes Don Miller. He is searching for what it means to follow Jesus authentically in this culture, at this time. While he is searching, with his books, he has constructed a window into his life. As I’ve stood at his window, looking in at his life story, I have laughed, I have cried, I have been challenged to rethink and reframe categories, and then I have walked away wanting to write a better life story. Through his writing, Don’s books encourage me to follow Jesus more authentically, and that, my friends, is not a small gift.
I am grateful to be part of a community that is willing to step out in faith, to try new things, to risk failure.