Last week I went to the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, which is one of the largest gatherings of the Churches of Christ in the US. It was a great week of rest, getting filled up spiritually, and taking a deep breath before the summer hits. I’ve been somewhat critical of the lectureships in the past, but this year was very different for me. I’ve been learning a lot about leadership this past year, and have grown to appreciate opportunities to surround myself with some of the best and brightest in the CofC heritage. Here are some of my highlights from last week:
I’ve been blessed to to live in several different places in my life, and in each of these places I have made friendships that have left a significant impact. Over the years these friendships have developed into a family of sorts, which makes events like the lectureships like a family reunion. Spending time with church family at an event like this brings a special warmth to my soul.
Another benefit from the week is being able to spend time with fellow ministers, especially guys outside of my immediate circle of friends. Being able to bounce ideas off of other ministers is vital to my creativity. Getting feedback on my ministry, and listening to the ideas and suggestions of others is climbing higher and higher on my ‘necessary list’.
Another social aspect of the lectureships is meeting new people. This year I was able to spend time with several people outside of my usual circles, and I feel very blessed. I met a preacher at a small church here in SD who taught me a lot about relationships across racial barriers. I met a missionary fundraiser who put financial struggles into perspective. I met a student who is looking to get into ministry, but isn’t sure about the commitment. I met a pretty well known speaker who shared that he still gets butterflies in front of a big audience. And lastly, I spent time with a ministry leader who taught me a lot about confidence and direction.
I spend a lot of my time trying to help others understand God’s love, so a week where I can focus on my own understanding is a welcome change of pace. PBL has become a week where I get to enjoy listening to some great minds, and allow myself to be pushed in my understanding of God’s word, and God’s love. And if you want to be spiritually filled, surrounding yourself with Mike Cope, Randy Harris, Jonathan Storment, David Fleer, Shon Smith etc… is a great place to do it.
The theme this year was ‘The Hero of the Story’ which ties into the rise in storytelling as a focus in churches across all denominations. We spent our week looking through Acts in a storytelling lens, and I think it really paid off. The final keynote, David Fleer, did a great job of ending the week with a view of the shipwreck story in the end of Acts that was truly an epic story.
North County was represented well at the lectures this year. Our preacher taught a morning class on Church leadership in turnaround churches. Our worship minister and his wife are members of the Zoe group, and they lead multiple worship services. Our Spanish minister, his wife, and daughter all taught classes as well. I even got to lend a hand running slides for Mike Cope and Zoe. I say all of this not to brag, but to express my excitement of being part of a great team. All throughout the week we received compliments on how well we work together. I know that we have a great ministry team at NC3, but to have others comment on that was very humbling. This has stuck with the most over the past few days, because it was definitely not something I valued enough before coming to NC3.
I would like to echo the comments my friend Zach posted about the lectureships. The Church of Christ has a great heritage, and I am proud to be a part of the that legacy. Sure, we have our issues and shortcomings, but overall we are very dedicated to the diligent study and practice of God’s word. Any changes I would make to our worship style are minor in comparison when it comes to the importance of knowing and living out the the word. We may disagree on some interpretations and practices here and there, but we do have a great heritage.
This year was exciting for me, because I knew a few of the keynote speakers personally, and several of my friends were teaching classes. Overall, the average age of the speakers at Pepperdine seems to get younger every year. (I recognize that this may also have something to do with my increasing age.) I am excited to see the torch handed down from one generation to another. I’m also excited to see how this next generation of Church of Christ leaders navigate the new century. There is a peace in knowing that God works so majestically through the rich talent pool that we have stepping up.
On Thursday night, I accidentally locked my keys in my truck while out to eat dinner at Malibu Seafood. My friends got a ride back to campus and I waited for the locksmith to show up. I was pretty frustrated at first, and for a brief second got scared because my phone battery was about to die. And then it hit me that I was going to ‘be stuck’ watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I chuckled, went in to get some warm apple cider and breathed in the cool ocean breeze. I breathed in the cool salty air and smiled. I didn’t say a word for the hour or so it took for roadside assistance to arrive. My life is about to get really busy, and this is quiet hour was exactly what I needed. So I just sat, thanked God for the moment, and listened to what He had to put on my heart while the remaining waves turned from light to dark blue.
one love, one heart.
Simply Christian / NT Wright
Hello Love / Chris Tomlin
Omni / Minus the Bear
Forgiveness Rock Records / Broken Social Scene
Iron Man 2