Thursday, October 24, 2013

The gathering: transformational church

I spent a couple days in Findlay, Ohio this week for a thing our denomination calls "The Gathering." Each year they have someone do a seminar or training event for church leaders, and this year it was on the Lifeway 'Transformational Church Assessment Tool.' There was really no reason for me to be there - since I'm no longer a pastor and it's not something I presently have a need for - but it was super-duper cheap, plus I don't really have much else to do at the moment and I thought it would be a good chance to hang around some people I like. I enjoyed it.

I was a little surprised when I arrived Monday morning. I have been to these "Gatherings" before and I was expecting the ministry center at the CGGC offices to be nearly full. When I walked in and there were only 8 people around a table I thought maybe someone was having a meeting before it started. Apparently that's all that signed up. There were 4 people who sort of shared leading (Justin was the main one, as well as Lance, Jeff, and Dave), and then 5 of us there as learners (Me, Randy, Melanie, Beth, and Phil). So it was a rather intimate affair, but it actually turned out to be pretty good. We had some nice discussion and it forced everyone to participate.

It went from 9 am to 5:30 pm on Monday, and then 8:30 to noonish on Tuesday. I overslept Tuesday and didn't get there until 9:30. We were supposed to be done at 11:30, and I hadn't checked out of my hotel yet, so I left about 11:50 and they were still going. I imagine they stopped shortly after.

Anyway, the goal of the Transformational Assessment is three-fold:
  1. So the people in your church will look MORE LIKE CHRIST.
  2. So our churches will look more like THE BODY OF CHRIST.
  3. So our cities and communities will look more like THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
If I were still in my old church I would give it some consideration, not only because of that, but because the whole process seems to lend itself to helping with our denomination's new scorecard (our annual report). A lot of discussion at this event still centered around 'church growth' strategies and whatnot, but it wouldn't necessarily have to.

Personally, as far as the trip and the content, I had a good time. For starters, it was nice to hang out with some church leaders again and have some church related discussions. I miss that. I actually thought Lance's beginning devotion was about as good as anything I heard too. I can't remember the biblical text he used, but it was roughly about how we can sometimes think God/Jesus just wants us to do things for him, and we can forget that he still wants to work IN our lives (or something like that). He ended by asking us to pray over the question: "What is it that I want to ask Jesus to do for me today?"

Tuesday was rather nice too because Ed (cggc director) came in for awhile, and at a break he asked how I was doing. He said they were all really shocked at what happened and he was very supportive and encouraging. It was nice to hear, because I've really heard from very few people and my regional leaders have not been much help (ok, no help).

Still on the personal side, I went to supper with Jim W. on Monday night. We went to Texas Roadhouse and had a nice chat. He said he had only heard 3rd or 4th hand info and was hoping it wasn't true, but was sorry to hear that he had been well informed. We also talked a lot about his future in applying for fellowships to get his phd and his work and churches and people he works with through the seminary. Later that night I went to a little place called the 'Landing Pad.' I had some lady talk my ear off for awhile, then when she left I chatted with a couple old guys (Tom & Felix). They told me they thought I looked like Arnold Schwartzenegger. We watched Monday Night Football, but then this place that calls itself a sports bar CLOSED at like 10 or 10:30. The game wasn't even close to being over. But... whatever. So I went back to my room at the "Quality" Inn - which was okay, but it had kind of a nasty smell. I tried getting into the Drury but the only room they had left was a smoking room. I think it might have smelled better than the non-smoking room where I was. Oh well, the bed still slept good.

After I checked out Tuesday (at 11:59), I grabbed a quarter pounder at McDonalds, then I stopped at the University of Findlay bookstore to buy a new hat. I couldn't find one I liked, so I just went to Frickers and got Drew Carrie some chicken wings to bring home. I suppose I got home around 2:30. It takes about an hour and a half via I-75 to Rt. 30.

When I got home (after dropping off the wings) I found that Jane had bought me the Born To Run book. That was a nice surprise to follow up a nice couple days in Findlay. I am glad I went.