Come to the (After) Party!
By Chris Moon
Something new! Something free! Something fun! It’s for EVERYONE!
It was like a banana split without the whipped cream. Or hot chocolate without the marshmallows. Or a Thanksgiving Day meal without the pumpkin pie. Something was missing.
That was the thinking among the leadership of the North American Christian Convention following the final night of programming at the 2016 convention in Anaheim, California.
Everything went so well. Bob Goff was the keynote speaker. The Christian rock band For King & Country put on a concert. The atmosphere was electric.
“People were just up in the clouds—excited,” says Larry Collins, managing director of the NACC.
And then it was over. Everybody went back to their hotels. The enthusiasm dissipated into the night.
“It was sort of anticlimactic,” Collins says. “We dumped all those very excited people—4,000 people—into an empty exhibit hall and told them to go home. What a shame it was.”
And so the idea for the NACC After-Party was born.
Traditionally, the NACC extended from Tuesday evening through Friday morning. But the conference always reached its zenith during the Thursday night main session. After that, exhibitors packed up their booths and headed home.
Convention-goers, however, were encouraged to return Friday morning for another Bible study and main session. But by then, there was no question that the convention was on the downslope.
The After-Party—which will get its debut at the 2017 NACC in Kansas City—is designed to remedy that.
“It is going to be the afterglow of the entire week,” Collins says.
It will be more than just a networking event. Collins says it will be a PARTY.
Immediately after the Thursday night main session closes, everyone will move to the After-Party in the exhibit hall.
Many exhibitors will provide food. There will be special lighting. There will be games and friendly competitions (which may include some of the key speakers of the week). There will be music, karaoke, and times of sharing. Characters from Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun theme park will mingle with the crowd.
There’s even been talk of an electronic bull—and a Ferris wheel.
“It’s OK to keep (the kids) up late that night,” Collins says.
A key benefit of the After-Party is that exhibitors will be free to come and enjoy it. They won’t need to pack up their booths until Friday morning. The NACC will officially end its programming Thursday night instead of Friday at noon.
“We’re family, and families need to party together and celebrate together,” says 2017 NACC President Gene Appel, senior pastor of Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim. “It’s very important to me that everyone who comes to this convention feels part of that family, part of that tribe.
Appel says the After-Party will embody the theme of the 2017 NACC—“This Is for Everyone.” Until now, the NACC has lacked a single event where everyone—convention-goers, exhibitors, and organizers—can get together for the sole purpose of connecting and enjoying one another.
“This is for everyone,” Appel says. “We want to create an environment for young and old and everybody in between. . . . This is a way to go out on a real high—and to celebrate all that God has done in our midst and to just enjoy each other.”
Chris Moon serves as pastor with Stanton (Kentucky) Christian Church.