I ain’t gonna lie – this last weekend was exhausting, and the pressure leading up to it had been pretty intense too! However, here I am typing away on the following Monday morning and I’m BUZZIN! Let me set the scene…
Last year Steve Timmis informed us at Acts29 Europe that Lecrae was interested in coming across to the UK to launch his new album (Gravity) and that he was happy to be involved in an A29 conference should we be able to host one. This was rightly considered to be a dream ticket for us as Lecrae’s profile offered us the opportunity to engage with both young people with a heart for gospel ministry, and also those who are ministering in the inner city and representing a diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. So when Steve asked for some volunteers, like a pair of nutters myself and my mate Kirk stepped up.
Talk about a BIG project!!! To have organised the conference alone, or just the concert would have been a pretty major undertaking, but to do both…in a single day…was pretty crazy to be honest!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we decided upon Manchester as a location (that’s where Kirk is based) and after having our preferred venue pulled from us relatively late on in the process, we had to take evasive action and were grateful for the hospitality of Holy Trinity Platt for the Priority conference and the availability of HMZ Ritz for Gravity. These are 2 pretty large venues and we were keen to pack them out. However, true to form, the British Christian community decided to wait until the eleventh hour to book their tickets. So you can imagine that when we realised just a few weeks ago that we had only sold 50 tickets for Priority and 250 for Gravity, we started to sweat a bit. Thankfully ticket sales soared over the final 2 weeks and we were therefore delighted when around 250 people rocked up to HT Platt on Saturday morning for the Priority conference, and equally delighted to arrive at HMV Ritz that evening and see a queue stretching several blocks for the Gravity launch party. Final ticket sales for the Ritz were 781!
But if selling tickets and packing venues was all we were concerned with, we’d have totally missed the point and the opportunity that we were presented with on Saturday. By God’s grace, we didn’t! And the reason I’m buzzin this morning is that the day was a HUGE success for all the right reasons. Here’s a few reasons why each event was so good:
People were turning up long before the doors were due to open and it was already clear that we had a wonderful demographic – young and old, black and white, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, American, European, ghetto, suburban…it was like an authentic slice of the Kingdom of God. It was also very evident that when my mate Dave Med and the band struck up the first song for corporate worship – we were all there in the name of Jesus and EVERYONE was in the mood to worship Him. Black hands and white hands raised together in worship – AWESOME!!!
As for the teaching sessions, I have to say that together they formed the best conference series I’ve ever sat under! Lecrae opened up by teaching on the Gospel Priority Man, proving that rapping is not the only gift that he’s blessed with. As a man I found it massively challenging and at the same time encouraging. Next up Duncan Forbes from Roehampton (in his trademark Adidas tracksuit) preached a belter on Gospel Priority Churches.
After an epic lunch the afternoon kicked off with a fascinating (and humbling for myself) Q+A session followed by a series of seminars, all of which were well received. Leonce Crump (pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta) taught compellingly on building cross-cultural bridges. Pastor Efrem Buckle hooked up with all the budding rappers and musicians to speak about music, mission and gospel integrity. My Acts 29 brother, Steve Robinson, ran a lock-in for all those with an itch for church planting and gospel ministry to encourage them as they considered what steps to take next. However, the seminar that I was most excited about was the one for the ladies (no, I didn’t go!) which featured the wives of 2 Acts 29 guys, Sian Robinson and Mindy Crager, as well as 2 other young ladies, one from Sheffield, the other from London. The reason I’m so stoked about this session is it’s the first (as far as I know) specific session for ladies that we’ve run at an A29E event. Knowing what a blessing my own wife is, and also how some (wrongly) perceive A29 as being a chauvinistic movement due to our complimentarian theology, I really believe that it’s of paramount important that we serve the ladies in this way! (I’m informed that Sian knocked it out of the park too! Brilliant!)
Steve Timmis rounded off the day inspiring us to be bold and take the gospel to the Gospel Priority Areas of the UK and the world. It was classic Timmis and, I think captured perfectly the beautiful kingdom dynamic that Priority had been – the opening session being taught by a young, passionate, black American rapper, the closing session featuring a seasoned, though equally passionate, white gent from northern England. What a wonderful picture the gospel paints!
That’s all I’m going to say about the Gravity Launch party. Support acts Cannon, Jahaziel and S.O were all fantastic and really got the crowd amped and by the time Lecrae hit the stage the atmosphere at the HMV Ritz was electric! I don’t want to bang on too much about Lecrae, because he’s all about pointing to Jesus. So all I’m going to say is that I have NEVER seen any Christian musician / artist take to the stage and demonstrate anywhere near the amount of passion, energy, worship and gospel drive that we were privileged to witness on Saturday night! It was beyond impressive – it was humbling!! For me personally it was quite crazy because the evening before I’d been sat next to Lecrae eating chicken in the Harvester and his love for Christ was evident as he talked. Then earlier that day I’d heard him teaching the Bible and his love for Christ was evident as he preached. So to see the same guy on a stage with hundreds of fans, it was great to experience his blatant love for Christ in that context too! No one could have left that venue on Saturday night and not been impacted by the gospel. NO ONE!! It was incredible!
If you were at Priority, Gravity or both, I’d love to hear what you made of it. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
I’ll sign off with these photos of the Gravity release party…