The Liberty University student body has heard from a diverse group of speakers this fall, with commentators from across the nation coming to address and challenge students during convocation. Among the speakers most noted for leaving a lasting impression on the students are Ed Stetzer, author and vice president of research and ministry development for LifeWay Christian Resources, best-selling author Frank Peretti, Pastor Sergio De La Mora and Evangelist Louie Giglio.
The hallmark of guest speakers for the 2012 convocation schedule was real estate king and businessman Donald Trump.
According to Liberty News & Events, “Trump addressed a record-breaking convocation crowd in which he praised Liberty’s growth and spoke gravely to the students and faculty about the importance of the looming presidential election.”
Trump also discussed the importance of being able to juggle pressure while maintaining a firm grasp on the things in life most important outside the business world.
“To be successful, you must have the ability to handle pressure,” Trump said. “Say to yourself, ‘Nothing really matters other than the big deal — your family and your faith.’ Always have a passion. Keep your family, your life and your faith first.”
Stetzer was one of the most memorable speakers for Liberty undergraduate students this semester.
When addressing the students, the seasoned pastor spoke about alarming statistics from a survey that LifeWay research had recently conducted.
“From a study of 7,000 churches, the majority of people in the majority of churches are unengaged in meaningful ministry vision,” Stetzer said.
Stetzer said that Christians are too often like the audience of a show, standing off in the distance without actually serving a purpose. They come as customers of religious goods and services that are distributed the way they like. The music plays the way they like and the pastor preaches the way they want him to, but they ultimately do not get involved.
“God has called you, in the midst of your profession — whatever that may be — to minister to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God,” Stetzer said. “So I petition you not to join the hordes of passive spectators in the churches across America and around the world, but instead to live as agents of God’s mission.”
Stetzer explained that people have bought the lie that our job is go to church and pay, pray and stay out of the way. He urged students to stand and be a part of the solution.
“When you build churches like theaters, don’t be surprised when people act like show goers,” Stetzer said.
Best-selling Christian novelist Frank Peretti echoed Stetzer’s message and theme.
Wielding the energetic power of humor, wit and grim truth, Peretti talked about the effects that the misconceptions of the American church had on him in his youth and the revelation God has shown him from his experiences.
“I’ve been going to church for 61 years,” Peretti said. “I was conceived at church. Point of fact, I went to church before I was born.”
He used the story of Christ using force to remove money changers from the temple to illustrate how God feels about materialism, spiritual mixture and any kinds of distractions coming between people and Himself.
“There was all this noise and distraction coming between the people and God,” Peretti said. “And Jesus has a thing about anything that comes between you and God. He doesn’t like that for a good reason. He loves you deeply and wants a relationship with you.”
He alluded to the comically-disclosed element of church evangelism that occurs when the Gospel becomes more of a cloaked agenda.
“When people get saved, they get saved into a particular church culture and they fall into the clutches of a local expression of the body of Christ that has its own culture, customs, language and behavioral expectations that have no genuine scriptural basis,” Peretti said.
Veteran pastor Sergio De La Mora of Cornerstone Church in San Diego carried the torch of religious reform in his address. Like his predecessors, De La Mora expressed frustration with the religious status quo of the modern-day church and challenged students to think outside the walls of their local church.
He stressed the crucial concept of touching people’s emotional and spiritual hearts.
“It is absolutely imperative that if we are going to radically change the course of our nation, we must energetically invest in capturing people’s hearts,” De La Mora said.
Christians are susceptible to suffer from spiritual amnesia, he said. After they have been saved for a while, they forget the agony of their former life prior to salvation.
“We grow up drinking Christian milk and eating Christian cereal, listening to Christian music and forgetting how painful it is to be mistreated by Christian bigotry,” De La Mora said.
Louie Giglio, pastor, speaker, author and founder of the Passion Movement reaffirmed through his walk with Christ that each person experiences a few core points that define who they are and whether they will choose to passionately pursue Jesus.
For Giglio, there was a defining moment in his life when everything completely changed. He shared that he was completely intoxicated by Christ.
“I had a crush on Him,” Giglio said. “And I don’t mean that in a goofy, weird way. I mean that in the way some of you girls have a crush on a boy right now, or some of you guys have a crush on a girl and you can’t see or think straight. I was like that with Jesus.”
The most inspirational experience in his relationship with God was beholding Mount Rainier. Giglio shared that he was completely blown away by the power, glory and awesomeness of the mountain.
“God used that moment and that experience to speak directly to me,” Giglio said. “He said, ‘You can know about me, or you can know me.’ I knew about Mount Rainier. But until I saw it face to face, I didn’t and couldn’t know Mount Rainier.”
Giglio charged the students and faculty into a deeper, more intimate walk with God.
Next semester, students and faculty can look forward to hearing from more speakers, including professional football player Tim Tebow and others.