I have several pages of handwritten notes, but I will just put some of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective) here:
The main speaker was Tony Morgan. His first talk was on "influence." We need to be intentional about our (1) attitudes; (2) actions; and (3) relationships. He concluded by saying we need to ask ourselves three questions: Are we influencing others? Who are we influencing? And do we like what we see?
The second day started with worship at 8:30. At one point I wrote in my journal: "I don't like it when I see church leaders 'on the prowl' for potential church leaders. They all have the same look in their eyes and use the same words." Our regional director at one point referred to these people as his "hotshots." They are nice people, but I am so thankful I'm not one of them.
The next session I have notes for dealt with "what next" after people have connected with our churches. Tony talked about a study done by Columbia University where they found that more people actually took action when they had fewer options to choose from. This was to point out that, contrary to the recent church idea that we need to offer lots of options, we should instead work at being more focused and simple; we might be more effective if we offered fewer things. Too many options makes it too hard for people to choose and we often end up with "paralysis by analysis" (we can't decide, so we do nothing). So we need to ask: Is our strategy clear? And is our strategy being clearly communicated?
He ended by telling the story of the "giant inflatable blue monkey." Car dealers use these to help them sell cars - rather than just offering betters cars and service. Does the church do the same?
We all went to the same break-out sessions together. First we went to Andrew Draper's, and listened to him talk about his missional community in Muncie. Then we went to Doug and Anna Molgaard's break-out where they talked about their SMOC ministry in Sweden (simple, missional, organic, communities).
Some random thoughts I wrote down at the end of this day:
- The leaders need to quit assuming that everyone knows what is going on. They need to tell people who talk to say who they are and what they are doing. I have been a pastor here for 11 years and I still don't know who a lot of these people are; I can't imagine what it's like for newer people.
- The Director needs to sit down and listen like everyone else. When he stands at the back of the room and "watches over" everyone it is kind of creepy, and it is distracting when he's running around talking to people and doing things while people are trying to talk.
The last day began with worship at 8:30 and was done at 11 am. Ed Stetzer was the speaker. He was also the main speaker for our General Conference the following 2 days. He talked about "living sent." He is definitely a really good speaker. He says we are all called to ministry and mission. The only question is where and among whom. He also talked about the correlation betwen John 3:16 and John 20:21 -- God sent his Son; then his Son sent you and me. Too many of us are more in love with our way of doing church instead of the people we are sent to.
That's it for Midwest Region conference. It was actually a pretty good time. Drew and I had some mean ping pong games at the hotel; we got to see some good friends we hadn't seen in a long time; spent time with some good folks; and I was pretty inspired (even though I was on vacation).
Peace out, folks; and in.