Christian retailers went to church Monday night at CBA’s Worship Him service during Unite 2018. CBA’s annual convention is being held July 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.
Jekalyn Carr (Lunjeal Music/New Day Christian Distributors) kicked off the musical portion of the evening as she reminded participants through the power of song that God is bigger than anything they might face.
With his crowd-pleasing band, Jason Crabb (pictured) continued the theme of expecting big things of God, praying, “Bless us, Lord. Bless us, Lord. Send your presence.” Crabb mentioned his recent CD release, Unexpected (Daywind/New Day Christian), but sang one classic not on the current CD that really roused the crowd, “Working on a Building.” He also gave away a Rahab’s Rope product, which benefits the poor in India.
Sandi Patty brought her resounding voice to the service although she is no longer touring regularly. While she sang a number of favorites, she also played and sang a quieter song, declaring that “Jesus is a faithful friend in the in between,” referring to the “in between seasons” of life. HarperCollins Christian Publishing releases her new book, The Voice, on Nov. 6.
In a welcome by CBA President Curtis Riskey before the music started, he promised that Unite 2018 was “not business as usual.” The service did seem different than usual with the challenge by one key speaker, Eddie Roush, chairman of the Roush Foundation, which gave a million dollars toward CBA member retailers’ show expenses.
Roush, who is also chairman of the CBA Service Corporation, stood with a Bible held high declaring many of the names of God from the Scriptures. When Roush was young, his pastor-father sang “There’s Something About That Name.” He talked of facing troubled times and said God’s Word warned of that ahead of time.
Roush went on to talk about the power of words, to say that Christianity needs to be rebranded and that the Christian products industry needs a dramatic change in its business practices and strategies.
He spoke at length about the fact that there is no such thing as a “Christian business,” but that only people can be Christian: “Can an organization or corporation be born again? The answer is no.”
He talked of the rebranding of Christianity that’s needed because evangelicals have become “especially paranoid.” Christians “seem to be governed by fear.” He added: “We fear change, any change. … Perfect love drives us away from fear.”
A former lawyer, Roush seemed to speak against the Christian baker who recently won his Supreme Court case for not baking a cake for a homosexual couple and against the alliance of believers with right-wing politics. He called out double standards and hypocrisy among Christians and called for compassion rather than cruelty.
“We abuse the name of Jesus for our personal gain,” Roush also said, calling on the industry to become “consumer centric.”
“I never ask God for money,” Roush said. “I ask Him for ideas because God always finances His ideas.”
“I’ve come to interrupt the industry,” Roush declared, reminding attendees of the lyrics to a Stephen Curtis Chapman song, “Saddle up your horses. We’ve got a trail to blaze.”
Keynote speaker Clyde Rivers, a U.S. citizen who is the honorary ambassador at large for the African country of Burundi and founder of iChange Nations, closed the night by saying “there’s nothing bigger than God in this world.” But, he added, “His currency is people. There’s no economic famine. There’s a gift famine.”
Rivers talked of Noah and Enoch receiving radical words from God that changed their generations.
“God wants you to do something different,” Rivers told the audience, calling on retailers to “retake the top, which, he said, is what repentance means. Some attendees responded to his altar call, going forward to be honest with God, repent and leave behind the old in a “spiritual trash can.”
Rivers called CBA “the organization that can reframe the world.”