Having pulled into the VIP parking area (I received a special VIP pass in the mail) I was immediately greeted at my car by a smiling face. The greeter was genuinely excited to see me. This made me smile and I already started to feel the energy of the conference. I then stepped into the lobby and was ushered directly to a check in station by another enthusiastic smiling face. I’ve experience church greeters before, and their “happy” demeanor has felt fake and conjured up, but that was not the case here.
The rest of our group needed to register with everyone else in the main lobby so I hung out with them in line. This VERY LONG line was seeming slow, but after a few minutes someone from the church came through (wearing a stylish Seeds T-shirt) and told us they were having trouble with the checkin computers but were working on it and it should soon be up and running again. He asked if we needed anything and then moved on with his duties. These guys are thorough.
After some time I decided to make to the VIP lounge. As I’m walking there I see a chalk artist on scaffolding drawing a huge 10 foot head shot portrait of the night’s speaker, Steven Furtick. The amount of detail was phenomenal.
Upon arriving at the VIP lounge, I met a few of the COTM staff and got some hor devours. About 5 or 10 minutes before the auditorium was opened up a COTM staff announced that we could now make our way into the auditorium to get our preferred seating.
The preservice music began to grow louder and the stage lighting grew dimmer as the band entered the stage. Then the room drew dark and the HUGE electronic music began. And an amazing intro, with lights and encouraging words about the church being many people but one body coming together shown across the four large LED screens hung from the rafters.
The COTM band came in with a house music version of a popular Hillsong tune. They then went into another electronic sounding song “Let it Be Known.” The first two songs were absolutely huge with a ton of moving lights and motion graphics jumping across the LED screens. The worship songs contrasted the first two with there simple and intimate feel. Dyana Bush beautifully sung “Oceans” off the brand new Hillsong United Album Zion. They transitioned smoothly into an epic version of “I Surrender” from Hillsong’s Cornerstone album.
Pastor Willie George then quickly took the stage and introduced Steven Furtick. Pastor Furtick encouraged us that being apart of what God is doing in the church is not a competition but a calling. He said many times we get focused on the “if I could I would but I can’t so I won’t” mentality. He reminded us that God called us to use what He’s given us and then God would open up doors for us as we use our resources.
The night ended with associate paster Ethan Vance closing the service with a few announcements and a closing prayer.
After a night like this one, the devil better watch out cause the church is taking the kingdom by force. I can’t wait for day two.