Monday 25th July - Day 3.
Well then, another day has passed already and the conference hasn't even started. I am so glad we have had these few days to settle in before hand. It's so good to take a breath and see things in their "normal" setting before a full on conference. It gives a much better all round view of things.
Yesterday was church... it was great. Bethel have a number of morning services so we went to the late morning one. Having heard how busy it could be, we turned up an hour early to wander around and make sure we got into the main "sanctuary" rather than being in the overflow room. Yes, they have an overflow room. It was nice to see that the Sanctuary wasn't ridiculously huge, and to have nice comfy seats but not those cinema chairs you get in some churches, which I find a bit much. The hour before the meeting started passed by really quickly with some people watching and finding Carissa! Yey! I loved that there was such a massive variety of people- not a set type of people that attend this church; from people who have tattooes all over their faces to young families.
The service was great! Absolutely brilliant. The worship was so passionate and hunger-filled. Everyone eager to be in His presence. Which we most definitely were. The band were really tight but also definitely not perfect. The words on the screen sometimes took a while to come up and for some reason I liked that. I realised these are just normal people in a normal local church. Not something totally perfect and un-relatable too. I also saw what Andy and Dad have been saying about Hope being very similar to it. It's obbviously different, but lots of the principles are the same. I enjoyed their approach to giving "Don't give if it's going to put you into debt" is written on their offering envelopes. The visitor leaflet starts with "There are so many great churches in this area- we aare honoured that you have chosen to come here today..." I mean, there is love and honour right there. There is absolutely zero amount of "Bethel is the only church. We're going to take over the world". I always thought it might get a bit annoying for them, if they constantly have vast numbers of people, but everyone you talk to is so genuinely pleased to see you. And it's fab to see that there is a large number of people for whom Bethel is home church.
The preach was absolutely fab. Kris Valloton was on form with a hilarious and deep hitting message. Definitely listen to it if you can. He was so easy to listen to, but his comedy did not detract at all from the massiveness of the topic. He coated what could very easily be a very bitter pill in something receivable/ swallowable. I started the preach by taking notes, but eventually couldn't keep up and wrote "Listen to this preach again. It is ace. Johnny likes it too." Haha.
After church, we went to Red Robin, which is kind of like TGIs at home. I cannot believe how much I ate... it was fairly ridiculous. But so so good. In TGIs you get bottomless drinks- they refill you whenever you like. Here you got bottomless fries. BOTTOMLESS!! Nevermind the fact that the portions are ginormous anyway, they give you REFILLS!!! As much as you like. Mental. Brilliant. Johnny of course took full use of this.
The evening service was different to the morning- different band, different preach. I didn't notice if it was a different crowd. Again, great. I was pretty tired by that point so struggled somewhat with the preach. Ended up sitting out and chatting to Johnny which was good. Danny Silk was preaching. It was great to see that all the leaders are so very different and each of their gifts is nurtured and honoured and given room for. It is no one man show. Kris in the morning, Danny at night- two exceptionally different people, differentt gifts, and different speaking styles. Both honoured equally and very highly. They stand up to welcome the speaker. Before the preach. It's very honouring.
Monday was a rest day. I managed to sleep in til about 10am which was brill. We just chilled out at the house for a coouple hours and then went to thee nearby mall. It was fun to wander around and people watch. Also bought some exciting things which Johnny has mentioned in his blog. Haha. We got chatting to the people in Victoria's Secret and they told us that Bethel is the biggest employer in the city. I think they have around 400 staff. 400!!! That's mental. And so great. They seem to have such a presence in this place. And everyone seems to think really highly of them. It's ace. The afternoon was spent relaxing at home and then we hit up the cinema in the evening. I got a diet coke that was bigger than my head and managed to drop it all over the floor. It was definitely a two hannds job carrying that vat of coke. I promised Johnny it was just a one off and no I wouldn't make it a habit! Hehe. Not that volume anyway. We saw Bridesmaids which was absolutely hilarious. Pretty grim at points, but properly laugh out loud most of the time. Loved it.
Today was day 1 of the conference. Still got the evening session to go but will be doing some resting before going back out. So far, absolutely brilliant. Definitely life changing stuff!