NASHVILLE (Christian Examiner) – "Jesus can change your life," Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told over 14,000 participants to the sold out 2015 Send North America Conference Aug. 3 in Nashville.
Assuring those at the mega event at the Bridgestone Arena that the conference is not about "making plans and designing strategies," Floyd said, "this is a Jesus conference."
"We are a Jesus people and this is Jesus' hope," Floyd told thousands, before leading in prayer at the start of the two-day meeting, sponsored by the North American Board and the International Mission Board. "Jesus can change your life; that is the very heart of who we are. ... When no one believes in us, He believes in us."
"We are here to celebrate Jesus," Floyd said. "This is about being available to Him."
Organizers said the conference has drawn church members and leaders from all 50 states and four Canadian provinces for what has been the largest event related to the 15.5 million member denomination in years.
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, led pastors, church leaders, and congregants to read from the Bible and kneel together and pray across the arena.
"We all exist for global missions," he said, noting the vast and expansive Southern Baptist missions enterprise needs men, women, college students, churches, pastors – everyone working together through the local church.
"We exist to serve and to come up under the church," Platt said as he urged participants - who will be at the conference for the next 36 hours - to be open to where God might call them to serve as missionaries, and how that might look.
Noting the time in Nashville is more than a conference, but a "life-altering experience" that cannot be "manufactured," Platt acknowledged that all life changes need to begin with prayer.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, remarked that 300 pastors brought participants to the conference, with one pastor bringing 150 of his congregants.
"We are so humbled you would trust us enough to bring your people to be here," Ezell told pastors.
There will be three stations for next steps in the venues where participants can respond to a missions calling. A six-week, next steps Bible study will launch through the Send North America Network Aug. 10. The Bible study will be supported with videos and blog posts.
Learn more about the Send North American Conference 2015 at sendconference.com.