I know, like we need another one of these after the Senior Pastor Conference things. But I found that when I sit and think through something like this, it helps it to gel in my head and heart. Are you gellin? So, unless you are into more debriefing (which is never really brief, can’t figure that one out), skip it. Otherwise, click away.
The conference ended a week ago today. It was my first time at one of these things as a pastor. When I was at CCBC I was one of the kids serving food and cleaning up the joint. That was a long time ago in another world called Twin Peaks (no, really). Now I was on the other side. It felt creepy. What I didn’t know about was the rooms with vendors from banks, building companies, and other ministries. At first, my reaction was “Is this a pastor’s conference or some kind of convention for, something that’s funny, and people convene about and try to sell stuff?” On the one hand, I can see how it would be helpful if I was in a place where the church was looking to build and had no good leads on banks that’s wouldn’t hose you. But it was still weird.
Another room was mostly about books and DVDs from The Word for Today, CCOF, and Calvary Distribution. But there were also these big posters with the faces of Bill Ritchie, Bob Coy, Greg Laurie, and others (sorry I couldn’t remember, others). What was that all about? (Text removed because of retraction.)
You could tell which speakers hadn’t been there for the whole conference. For example, Greg Laurie re-explained for us something that John Miller (?) had taught on the night before. And then Greg was gone. That kinda bugged me.
One element that I did like, and I think others noticed because I asked Tom Stipe about this and he had had the same conversation with several others, was that the speakers were much less Chuck-centric than in the past. I’ve watch the videos and listened to the MP3s of pastors conferences. One thing you notice is how often each speaker would say “Chuck did this” “Chuck taught me that” “Chuck would never/always” kind of stuff. It got sickening after a while. Understand that I’m from a non-Southern California CC environment and had never heard of Chuck Smith until I got to CCBC.
To take it a step further, something that was said at the conference in Denver that was echoed at the SPC, was that we need to get back to being part of the Jesus movement, and not focus so much on being the CC movement. I thought that was huge. I think it was Ricky Ryan who made that comment during his session. We need to be about Jesus, about the Spirit, and not about CC or Chuck Smith. That’s been a no brainer for me for a while now, but I do remember being caught up on the CC wave for a time. It’s a bad place for one’s ministry to live. I was stoked to hear that theme throughout the conference.
Since the conference I have watched my favorite four session out of 15. (I still can’t believe I sat through 15 sessions!) Joe Focht, Bill Ritche, Tom Stipe, and Ricky Ryan. I think Joe nailed the emotional element, the dynamics and power of Jesus on the cross. That element ought to be the motive, the driving force behind all that we do as pastors and as churches. Bill and Ricky were very parallel concerning the Holy Spirit’s role in our fellowships. Those ought to be required viewing/listening for every pastor in the world. The Spirit is the power that energizes us and our fellowships, and if it’s not there then what are we doing? Tom Stipe really drove home, for me, what it means personally to run the race, to protect myself against being disqualified. And I’m not just talking about the “whack whack whack” thing. Even if that illustration had not been there, the point would have still come across. The need to daily protect ourselves, how seriously we need to take this business. Not only as pastors but as individual Christians. Everyone needs to do that.
After the conference I wrote about my own personal post conference stress disorder. Friday and Saturday were pretty sucky. But with the prayer of others and patience from my wife, Sunday was an amazing day. Next up on the docket was Acts 2:40-47. That’s just where we happened to be that week. I told them up front that I would do my best not to regurgitate the whole conference, and I didn’t. I stuck to what the Lord had already given me for that passage before the conference. The conference stuff only reinforced it all. It was one of those Sunday’s where I ended up going for almost an hour, and I no one noticed. My wife said that I didn’t have any of my usual speech impediments (I stutter and stumble frequently). I knew I went almost an hour because of the clock on my monitor. By the end of the day, I honestly could not remember what I even said. It all just kind of poured out of me. Would that I could have more Sunday’s like that!
People were blessed. Not because of me, but because of where the church has been, what it has gone through, and where it was going. And if I can keep at the forefront of my mind Joe’s passion for the cross, Bill and Ricky’s passion for the Spirit, and Tom’s passion for personal discipline, and I can communicate those things, I think our fellowship will grow deeper root and produce some good fruit.
Will I go back next year? If I do it won’t be for the teaching. I can get as much from the DVDs as I can from being the room, and my couch is way more comfy than those chairs. Can I get an “amen!”? If I go back it will be because the relationships I have developed online with other pastors. I met most of them in person at the conference. (I swear, if someone had made me try to pick John Vlk out of a police line up, I could not have done it. His WordPress avatar is totally different from how he looks now.) I don’t expect to be able to hang with most of them because they live in other parts of the country. A few of them live around here and I hope to hook up with them as often as I can. But, if I go back, it will be for that hang-out time.