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Conference Kickoff

So here I am. I’m sitting in the worship center of Grace Community Church. Apart from the orchestra, which is doing some last minute practicing, and a few scattered conference staff, talking in small clusters, the auditorium is empty. The Master’s Seminary choir, which must number at least 100, just finished practicing a few of the songs they will lead us in later today.

I arrived in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon and immediately met up with Doug McHone from Coffeeswirls (www.coffeeswirls.com). My travel was boring but uneventful. I ended up sitting next to someone a little bit surly and completely untalkative on the long flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles which was disappointing. And so I read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point from cover-to-cover while in the air. We rented the smallest, cheapest car available from Enterprise and made our way to Santa Clarita where we are staying with a host family from the church. The family is spoiling us. We had a huge basket of snacks and drinks and other good things waiting in our room. One of the granola bars came in hand last night when Doug woke me up with his snoring. I grabbed one from the basket and launched it in the direction of the noise. The snoring stopped and I got back to sleep.

When I arrived at the conference this morning I was offered two choices: I could sit in the second row from the front or sit in the back. Being who I am, I opted for the very back. So I am sitting in the back row, beside the center door. For those who are here and would like to drop by to say “hi,” I am immediately to the right (when facing the front of the room) of the center doors (one row over from the sound booth). At this point I’d anticipate that I will be in this spot for most of the conference.

It is a beautiful, warm, cloudless day in California. It was amazing to show up here this morning and to see the parking lot filled to overflowing and thousands of men milling about, registering, shopping, and drinking countless gallons of coffee. Doug is probably out there still. He managed to disappear sometime when we were registering. I assume he’ll show up sooner or later.

As we registered we were given a badge with our names; a nicely-printed catalog with a schedule, a list of seminars and maps to various local restaurants and attractions; a discount card for the bookstore; and a box containing a leather portfolio.

As I am writing this, they have just opened the doors and men are pouring in, running down the aisles to get seats near the front. Hundreds of them. Thousands. I hear there will be almost 3500 people here, the vast majority of whom as pastors. Looking about I can see three or four women. Everyone else is male.

We are about fifteen minutes away from the beginning of the conference. The first session features none other than John MacArthur. I’ll check back after he has spoken.