Posted by: ritagone | March 23, 2011

Leadership Summit 2011

Having just come back from our Leadership Summit outside of Madrid, Spain, this past week, I’m now refreshed and fully charged, although I must say flying home from Spain with a head cold is no fun at all.

I always discover something new to think about and ponder when I’m at one of our conferences, and this one was no exception: we talked about the basis for mission, for one thing.  Is mission important to God, and if so, how does it manifest itself in the world around us?  (This also led to conversations about universalism, due in part to Rob Bell’s forthcoming controversial book in which it is contended that Bell has become a universalist, claiming that eventually, because God is a God of love, all will go to heaven and no one will go to hell.  And if that’s the case, what in the world is there for the missionary to be doing?  His or her time might be better spent doing something else, because we’re all going to the same place ultimately anyway.)  You see, I told you we tackled some pretty interesting topics.  This was one of the interesting discussions going on at the Summit.

On a practical level, there were also sessions taking team leaders through progress on their own missional action plans (MAP), coordinated systems designed to give team leaders and their teams concise understandings of where they are and what is needed in their work on the field.  For those of us needing something a bit more relational, there was a track about conflict resolution: how do we get along with our fellow creatures?  And when we don’t get along, how do we manage that?  How do we resolve issues between us?  We role-played, we worked in teams (a potential conflict producing situation in itself), and we laughed and questioned and came away feeling, I think, a little bit better able to deal with the world and the people around us.

We listened to the gigantic chords and strains of Mahler symphony movements and heard an intriguing thesis as to how the late 19th-early 20th century composer heralded missions by the structure of his compositions.  The room actually vibrated to the sounds of the horn section (which we learned Mahler purposely increased in size to get the sound he was after); I could feel my kidneys shaking inside me.  But I knew I was hearing something I had never heard before and might never hear again.  It was intriguing, and I loved every loud, bombastic moment of it.

The fellowship was sweet.  The guests – and there were quite a few, from many nations —  seemed to enjoy being among us.  The hotel accommodations were spacious, and the rooms for meeting were abundant.  Oh, if we could have changed the weather and warmed it up a bit, I’m sure everyone would have wanted to do that, but let’s face it: you can’t have everything.

I think we were all challenged and encouraged.

I noticed the difference immediately when I sat in my wonderful Growth Group this past Monday night listening to a dear man, a much loved friend, teach out of 1 Thessalonians, chapters 1 and 2.  Now, I admit that I was still jetlagged, which affects my perception of everything around me, including the hearing of the Word.  But as I sat and listened to him talk about “stuff” that I’ve heard for decades – nothing new, nothing challenging, nothing that made a difference in how I live my life or in how my world might be shaken up, I realized that at a good CA conference, such as the recent Leadership Summit I’ve been telling you about, when it’s on target and accomplishes what it is supposed to, something definitely wonderful happens, and that is this:

You are challenged.  You are shaken up.  It does make a difference in how you live your life, gives you something to think about and ponder. If you take it all in as you should, let it seep into your pores and your cerebrum and your soul, you will indeed come away with new perceptions and new ways of behaving toward everyone around you, new manners of living and loving like Jesus.

While sitting at Growth Group, hearing the same old, same old teaching of 1 Thessalonians that I’ve heard countless times before (Paul I think would call it milk rather than meat), nodding off because it was warm in the room and getting late and I was tired and bored, I thought back to the sessions at the Summit that were so interesting and challenging.  The contrast struck me, and I felt very privileged to have been able to hear some good solid teaching that made me think and process and ponder instead of just looking at a map to see Paul’s missionary journey for the 900th time.  When I get to heaven, is knowing the route of Paul’s missionary journey going to be on the test?  Or is it going to be significant that I understand what being missional in the world around me means for me personally?  Isn’t that truly what I’m called to live and learn?

And so I’ve made a kind of recommitment of sorts after attending the Leadership Summit which I hope will hold throughout the rest of this year and into the future: I want to study the Bible and listen to any and all teaching from it in a way that is not superficial but instead in a manner that continues to challenge me to grow and strive and keep reaching for whatever potential may still be out there for me.  I don’t want to be a baby.  I don’t want pablum.  Been there, done that.  If the Word of God is anything, it is exciting beyond belief.  Why, then, shouldn’t it be exciting to hear it, to study it, to take it apart and learn from it, to make it such a part of my everyday life that it seeps into the very fibers of my being?  If it can’t do that, if I won’t let it do that, then what exactly is the point anyway?

So I challenge you to be on this same quest, to find Bible teachers and Bible study material that pushes and prods and makes you more and more like Jesus Christ by the time you’ve studied it, not more of the same, not just like you were before you sat down to listen.  “We shall all be changed,” is one of the promises of Scripture, but we shan’t be if we aren’t willing.

I’m willing.

Are you?


Regards, Rita

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