upon arrival before any signs of the conference in view only one block away from the entrance to the Tampa Convention Center cars were bumper to bumper and crowds of people walking in one direction. In that moment I realize, this conference is much larger than I imagined. It has been a while since I have attended a large religious conference with over 5 thousand people in attendance seemingly from across the nation pouring into the convention center to be empowered, enlightened, elevated and stretched in places to experience the next dimension of the call. Excitement and anticipation was certainly in the air. I immediately told the driver to drop me off right here and I will join the crowd of people walking to the conference.
My first day in attendance was on Friday morning. The first class I attended was Radical Church for a Radical Age taught by Rev. Tony Lee of Washington DC and Maryland area (DMV). He shared the essence of radical versus relevance with real life experiences demonstrated during his time as a Youth Pastor in the conversion of a male stripper to Christ to the opening of his ministry that started in a strip club. Plus, Rev. Lee’s incredible work in creating a safe community environment for all citizens. I could witness many delegates blown away by his work with gang lords and even the LGBTQ community by conducting HIV testing on site, but what was clear his commitment to radically change the lives of others no matter the cost exhibiting unconditional love.
Then I attended the General session featuring Pastor Craig Groeschel co-founder of Life Church. He was truly my highlight of the day listening to his narrative of starting his church in his two-car garage eventually to expand into the thousands, locations, over seven services and then hit a ceiling of where no growth is happening. Pastor Groeschel emphasized four areas to change to evaluate for growth to continue: Change what you believe is possible (excuses vs progress), Change how you empower people to grow (people grow best in the game – untapped potential), Change how you create systems (strong systems make great people look great and weak systems make great people look weak) and Change what you believe in yourself (God is finite). It was an excellent presentation. If you are not part of Bishop Village, which is Bishop Jakes digital network, join today.
Saturday morning, I jumped up early because I wanted to hear Stedman Graham and yes, Oprah’s man speak. he talked about keys to creating your own vision and his new book, Identity: Your Passport to Success. He was good, but the next speaker Cynthia Marshall known as Cynt, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks blew me out of the water. Mrs. Marshall presentation was informative, radical and interactive. She had my attention from start to finish. It was something mesmerizing to listen to this black executive declare she was raised pentecostal, cancer survivor, retired Chief Diversity Officer of AT & T, adopted mother of three and hand selected by Mark Cuban to be the CEO, this woman is Bad! Cynt had us dancing learning the cupid shuffle, teaching the importance of diversity and inclusion, knowing your crystal balls from your rubber balls to understanding the fact leaders erase barriers. Simply awesome, I was so drawn to her energy that I ended up on stage part of her presentation. Love it!
Finally, the visionary and creator of Pastor and Leadership International Conference, Bishop Jakes at no level of disappointment pushed every delegate to the edge in order to JUMP. He wrecked the house at the closing in a such a manner that thousands flooded to the altar in order to realign their dreams and vision to the destiny of God for their lives making a sincere commitment to JUMP into the next dimension. Bishop Jakes used Peter as the biblical example of him professionally being trained as a fisherman during the transition of Jesus to the cross and from the cross to the resurrection that no matter how Peter thought he failed God a greater call/leader was already in him. Some of the key notes I wrote down Bishop says, success leaves clues, your destiny is concealed in your history, power moves in the morning, forget what you had and work with what is left, Busy does not equate to impact, if all roads lead to you then growth will never happen, you can’t make great decisions without success and more. The amount of nuggets were dropping to fast to catch them all. Go to Bishop Village and listen to the message in its entirety.
This Conference was absolutely incredible. I would recommend any leader or pastor looking to expand thought beyond church antics attend this conference. The conference for sure places you in a room with people you will never naturally interact. I left this conference a different man.