So I am here in Chattanooga (the official city motto seems to be “We close at 5”), spending the weekend at a conference room at the Chattanooga Choo Choo (which is a local hotel/attraction/Holiday Inn). Somewhere around 1000 people are gathered for the Reality Check conference which will feature teaching by Matt Fowler, Paul Washer, Jeff Noblit, and Jono Sims. This event is a ministry of Anchored in Truth Minitries and caters primarily to young people, though despite this, there are many adults here. From my vantage point in the middle of the room I’d estimate they represent perhaps one in four or one in five attendees. Many parents have come with their teens—far more, I think, than I’ve seen at any similar conference. This is interesting to me and I look forward to seeing how that demographic contributes to the overall experience of the conference. Registration was so far beyond expectations that an overflow room was opened down the hall and people in that room are watching the proceedings via a video feed. This is a big event and a great way to close out a year.
The schedule for this conference gives us two sessions this evening with a short break between. Tomorrow we’ll see two more sessions before breaking for the whole afternoon. There will be two sessions that evening and one for Sunday morning worship. Each morning there will also be times for leaders’ devotions (youth group leaders, that is) and tomorrow there will be a roundtable luncheon for these leaders. Saturday afternoon gives a long period of time to explore downtown Chattanooga (which, as you’ll know if you’ve been here) is a really great place with lots to do and lots to see.
The conference’s first evening kicked off with a time of praise and worship led by Tom Clay. Accompanied by a contemporary (and loud but not-too-loud) band, he led in a variety of hymns and contemporary favorites (“Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Hallelujah, What a Savior,” “How Deep the Father’s Love,” “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,” etc). In just a few moments, Matt Fowler, will begin the first teaching session.