I once stood in the middle of a million men who had come to Washington for a Promise Keepers event and there learned the greatest lesson I could ever learn about how to involve champions in international ministry causes…
…and how not to.
It happened on the afternoon of October 4, 1997.
Do you remember that date, by any chance?
It was the date of Promise Keepers’ “million man gathering”—Stand In The Gap. I was a VP at the Russ Reid Company at the time, and we been asked to work with Promise Keepers to develop a recruiting and marketing plan for the event.
At last, October 4th came.
None of us knew what to expect, of course, but when–at 9 o’clock in the morning–somebody blew a shofar and we all started singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, everything just felt great. From then on, it was a total high. And I hardly remember what any of those speakers said, or any of the problems we undoubtedly had, or what I ate for lunch, or any of those things.
Until that afternoon.
Coach—Bill McCartney—was giving his big address. All day he had been raising the Spirit in these men with the incredible energy and love that Coach brings to the table. He had built up that he had a major surprise to unveil – something that would really rock our world! Coach said, in his great, hoarse, scratchy, tough voice:
Promise Keepers is gonna go international!
Interestingly, I remember the moment more for what it lacked than for what it contained. What it lacked was passionate, thunderous applause. And this was odd, because just about every other sentence had elicited passionate, thunderous applause from about a million men that day.
“License plate BR549. Your lights are on.” YEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!
“Does anybody have change for a 50?” YEEAAAAAAAAHHHHH!
“How do I get back to Cleveland from here?” YEAAAAAAHHHHH!
I’m sure Coach and Promise Keepers had worked for months on the international plan. They knew the organization needed to be a global force, not just an American one. They knew that the PK message was needed by men in every nation. And so they viewed the million man gathering as the perfect place to announce the PK plan—their plan.
And that’s what seem to cause the relative hush as Coach said, “WE’RE going international!”
It was as if a million guys simultaneously thought, “Who’s WE?” This was a plan they didn’t recognize; a vision that had been sprung on them, not transferred to them.
What would the alternative been?
We’ll take a shot at rewriting Coach’s coulda-been historic appeal in the next post.