My head is going to explode. Stand clear. Stuff is going on.
I’ve been to a ton of conferences in my 25 years of ministry. Usually big-whig speakers come in and nail the audience with one of their best talks. Tony Campolo talks about throwing a birthday party for prostitutes, Andy Stanley encourages pastors to “cheat the church” by putting family first and authors tell the story of their latest book. It’s all good but part of it is a little discouraging at the same time. I want to rejoice with those who rejoice but my very active sinful nature sneaks in with some jealousy.
This Exponential conference has had some of the same elements. Mark Batterson has a sweet Washington DC story of an exploding church plant and it’s amazing. But then, his church got a three million dollar gift. Um, sweet. Honestly, I’m thinking that success with that kind of bankroll is about as predictable as another good New York Yankees squad with a monster payroll. Yeah, I know, I shouldn’t think that way.
And then there’s Louie Giglio talking about his church plant. He shares his heart and admits he is a rookie at it. I hear that. But then, he admits how tough it is to swallow for the 3000 planters in the room when he tells a story about his worship leader, Chris Tomlin doing his thing. Wow … I wonder how many of the people here would just like to find a good guitar player who can carry a tune. I wonder if David Crowder is available.
The Mosaic Church worship team is amazing and huge and multi-ethnic. Wow, so very good.
Conferences are weird. They motivate and encourage but, at the same time, holding up all the huge success stories can make the planter who has 16 people meeting in a garage feel a bit overwhelmed. But, if organizers put a list of unknowns together to speak, no one would come. I wouldn’t. Big success represents hope.
This conference has been unique though. One after another, each speaker has basically shrugged his shoulders and said, “I have no idea why. It’s a God thing.” Humility and genuine reliance on God have hit me hard. Batterson is humble, Chandler is real, Giglio radiates his love for God and Francis Chan is, well, Francis Chan. They have struck me as servants. It’s tough to explain …
I came looking for formulas and resources and am leaving knowing that I’ve got to focus on loving Jesus more. No formula. No guarantees. Just prayer and reliance on God.
I didn’t buy a bunch of books. I know that bums publishers out. But, the truth is, I have the book I need. All the others can get to be a distraction.
I leave knowing that each of them is just like me – frail, imperfect and just doing their best to get closer to Jesus.
It’s been a breakthrough week for me in many ways. It’s been an “ebenezer” week. If you want to hear more, you’ll have to buy me breakfast.
1 Sam. 7:12 Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.” (MSG)