Friday, February 01, 2013

MLI 're-gathering' #1

I spent that last two days at the wonderful Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center in eastern Ohio. This was our first "re-gathering" of our MLI group. It began in January 2010 and our last time together was in October 2011. We had six 3-day retreats over the two years - all at the same place. The second group is in the midst of their 2-year program, and while Reggie McNeal was here for their January retreat I guess they decided to have us come in at the end of it for an overnighter as sort of a follow-up for us. Apparently group two met Monday through Wednesday lunch, and we were there Wednesday lunch through Thursday lunch (Jan. 30-31). We could have come a day sooner and participated with the other group on a few things, but my carpool decided to just come for the 2 days.

Logistically, Tom drove this time. He picked up Steve around 7 am and then picked me up at my house around 7:20-ish. It rained most of the way and we arrived at the lodge around 11:50, with one stop for coffee and restroom (just east of Columbus). So 4 1/2 hours seems to be about right. We had just enough time to drop our bags in our room and make it to lunch. Tom and I roomed together (117), and I think Steve roomed with Paul. Tom and Steve both had colds so I held my breath in the backseat most of the way there. Coming home we left the lodge at about 12:30 and with two potty breaks and some nasty snow in several spots we were at my house at just before 5 pm.

I looked up our driving record for these, and we have each driven twice now. We all drove to the first one (with our spouses), then it went like this:
  • Retreat #2 - Steve drove his Buick
  • Retreat #3 - I drove the Focus (it was all 3 of us going there, but Steve didn't come home with us; he and Pam went on vacation from the retreat)
  • Retreat #4 - Steve drove again (Blazer) because of bad weather
  • Retreat #5 - Tom drove his Hyundai (Steve rode out with Bob E. because Tom had a funeral and we didn't arrive until the evening. Steve then rode home with us)
  • Retreat #6 - I drove the Buick.
  • Re-gathering #1 - Tom drove his Hyundai
It was nice to see everyone again, and I always enjoy staying in the Lodge. The food is great, and it's a nice spacious place to hang around for a couple days. I'd guess there were maybe 25 out of our original group of maybe 40, so there was a good group of people there. My cohort of 6 only had 3 of us there (me, Eddy and Brian).

We began with lunch on Wednesday, then we had our Fast-Fire Updates (where we had to draw pictures describing what worked, where we were stuck, biggest surprise, and biggest opportunity). We followed that up with a Q & A time, a talk by Reggie on Collective Impact, dinner at 6:30, then a cohort exercise from 7:30 to 9 pm (planning out an elementary reading program for a city of 35,000). I then sat and talked with Brian about coaching and counseling until after 10 pm.

Thursday started with breakfast at 8, devotional at 9, reports from our cohort exercise, then a talk by Lance on Toxic Charity/When Helping Hurts, another Q & A, and we wrapped things up at 11:30. We grabbed another box lunch and were gone by 12:30.

Overall I would say it was a really good time. Like I sad, I always enjoy getting together with other church leaders and talking "church stuff." It gets me really excited. Usually it's the unofficial discussions that are as invigorating as the formal talks (over meals and on breaks and such). I really get off on that. The talks by Reggie are pretty good - I like listening to him and he's easy to understand - but I feel like he's talking so far beyond where I'm at that it's a bit overwhelming usually. He's talking about starting city-wide campaigns designed to stamp out poverty and illiteracy and things like that, and I'm just trying to figure out things like how to get Sunday School teachers to show up on time (not really, but it's a fitting example). So for as excited as I am while I'm there, I sink that much lower when I arrive back home and and am faced with trying to find something useful for my church and how to get that across by myself. But, what are you gonna do... that's the nature of these things.

I just took a couple pages of notes. I don't know if they're worth sharing or not. Maybe some other time. I mostly just wanted to get the logistical information down so we will know the driving schedule and how long it takes and things like that.