Shall we gather at the river?

October 26, 2009 — 2 Comments

CityFest 008 50pct

Well, while the title might evoke memories of that familiar old hymn of the same name, what happened in Little Rock this weekend probably had a different flavor than what most would imagine.

But ‘gather at the river’ is exactly what we did in central Arkansas for the Luis Palau CityFest. An estimated 25,000 people gathered each night for music, entertainment, and an evangelistic message from Palau. It took place on the north shore of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. Sponsored by more than 250 area churches, this event was definitely the place to be!

And even if you’d never heard of Palau, Christian recording artists like Toby Mac and the Newsboys were sure to draw a crowd — which brings me to my point.

I’ve always been fascinated by crowds. This one was no different. While many of those attending were clearly with church groups, I saw a number of others who seemed to be all alone in the crowd, just kind of watching from a distance. There were people of all colors, backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels — together worshipping one Lord. It was a pretty incredible thing to be a part of.

A number of spiritual decisions were made during this two-day event, but the real test, in my opinion, comes in the follow-up. How successful will our churches be in helping get these new believers connected to a local congregation? So much planning and preparation goes into the front-end of major efforts like CityFest. I just pray that we will be faithful in helping these new Christians take the next step and begin growing in their relationship with Christ.

I must confess that I really enjoy crowds. It was neat to step away from the crowd several times during the event in order to catch a wide-angle view of all the people. Of course, no one had a better view than God. I pray that He was honored and glorified in all that took place.

And I pray that He will continue to be glorified in the way we work together to get people moved from just one of the crowd at a large regional event to the actual core of the local church. I think you can definitely find God in the crowd, but you don’t get to know Him until you get connected through Bible study, worship, fellowship, and ministry.

Once the evangelist leaves town, the banners come down, and the trash is picked up along the riverwalk, that’s when the real work begins.

May we be found faithful!


  • What do you think is the strength of events like CityFest?


2 responses to Shall we gather at the river?


    Let’s see….I seem to remember JESUS going to the JORDAN RIVER. He blessed IT with HIS presence and JOHN THE BAPTIST’S MINISTRY. Seems some crowds gathered there too! This would certainly follow scripture!


    So true, John. It was a great experience. And there’s just something about the energy of the crowd juxtaposed against the serenity of the steadily flowing river.

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