What a great plan, attend a conference, visit new friends in Michigan, return to my day off. Perfect planning!
As I return to the comfort of my own living room to write this I sit here reviewing what I have experienced and what I have learned. The breakdown goes something like this, new insights into the 'workings' of mega church, discussions with various staff from Saddleback, unusual workshops leading to new understandings of things I thought had no connection to my ministry but do, new family era - realization that in the next few years my kids are going to be 'really' gone...
I know, a rather strange description, but the best I can do.
I learned things God wanted me to learn, many of which appear to have no connection to what my ministry is directly. Still obviously things God wanted me to know and experience.
One workshop totally supported the passion I have been feeling about connecting the next generation to Crossroads. Now, part of this stirring I am sure is simply God reminding me over the past months about my age! ha ha But, we must be very intentional in the development of the next generation or there will be no young adults fully formed and ready to be involved in key roles of Crossroads. Pastor Tim has been encouraging us to really work to identify young leaders and this workshop supported that encouragement. (Pray for our new College Bible Study that begins next week, I think it has the potential to be ministry changing, much excitement connected to this study). Anyway, the workshop I attended had people slightly older than myself talking about their conversion stories, their past and how people would look in their eyes and say "I want what you have", what they saw of course was Jesus in their lives, but it was challenging to consider what people see when they really look at me... and how I can show that to the younger people at Crossroads. How can they see Jesus so much in us that they want to serve him too?
I also enjoyed private conversations with staff which made we realize that we are not so different at Crossroads then they. Same struggles, similar ratio of staff compared to congregation size, technology that is old the minute your purchase it (after saving money for it for so long!), and I saw the desperate emptiness that other leaders feel around the country who have the responsibilities of leading week in and week out. I also saw discouragement as people became overwhelmed at the amount of information we recieved which represented all the change they needed to go home and make.
So I guess I return with a willingness to look at our ministry, evaluate and make changes if they are needed, but honestly more than anything, I come back valuing our ministry more. Realizing with newly opened eyes what we have at Crossroads. When you see something everyday you stop seeing it in a sense, but to all of you who have Crossroads just know that attendees, worship leaders and church staff across America would count it a privilege to be where we are at this time in our ministry. God has richly blessed Crossroads and I return with a new appreciation for and excitement about what God is doing in Mansfield, Ohio - funny I had to go all the way to California to find it!