Our family just got back from Florida. We spent the first week in Orlando at the annual Exponential conference and then headed to the beach with the whole Wiens clan to enjoy each other and some sun. Here are my not so short thoughts on Exponential 2012 (beach pics to come later).
Luke 22:31-3231 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Exponential is a conference specifically target to Church planters (people starting new churches) but we have attended for years, even after serving at an established church, because it really is applicable to anyone in ministry. This year's theme Sifted (my personal favorite year yet) is applicable to any believer. As pastors, as believers, as children of the most high God, we will be sifted. We will experience trials, times of pruning, moments when God needs to break out legs to bring us to our knees, we need to learn ultimate dependence on the Lord for every area of our lives.
The other big focus is a Pastor (again really any career can be inputted there) needs to have their relationship with the Lord, their relationship with their spouse and family to be top priorities and healthy for long-term success. There will come a day that you will walk away from the career you are in, you will pack up your belongings, and the church/company/business will still function without you. The only people you will have then, the only lifetime small group you are a part of, is your family (my paraphrase from Bill Hybels).
Another highlight for Steve and my time there is the worship experience. There is something powerful about 5,000 people passionately worshiping side-by-side, pouring their hearts to their maker and the maker of the universe. Sometimes Sunday mornings are so rushed for Steve and myself, that my heart doesn't have time to sit still long in our worship services. The song "Sweetly Broken" by Jeremy Riddle brought me to tears. With out recent miscarriage and my health scare, I was so filled with gratitude to my God. He is the only one I know who we can be SWEETLY BROKEN by. I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be sweetly broken and wholly surrendered. Here is the song with lyrics.
Those were the big points, here are some notes from different speakers.
- the true test of being a servant is when you are treated like one
- in the end God's not going to hold you accountable for what you have done, but for how much He asked you to do, that you have done.
- The best vegetables grow in sifted soil, the best growth comes in humility, humility only comes when you are humiliated and sifted.
- Learn to self-correct (James 5 and Ecc 8:11)
- scrub your heart often
- if you are sinning and there are no consequences, fall on your face fast and repent, the enemy is setting you up for a big fall-out
- Read Bible daily (book Divine Mentor)
- Learn how to suffer
- suffering will change you but not necessarily for the better, you must choose that
- Learn how to lead yourself to Christ
- Cordeiro told his wife in their early relationship, if ever one of us should fall, meet me back at Calvary, wait for me there
- go to the cross before you make decisions (Jeremiah 15:19)
- Pastor's responsibility is not to meet the needs of everyone personally, it is to make sure the needs are being met (find key volunteers you can send people to)
- SAY NO WITHOUT EXPLANATION
- this was big for me, I feel like I can say no to things well, but as humans we feel compelled to tell why. Sure you might not be able to make a baby shower because you will be home with your kids in your pj's watching a talking dog for the fifth time, that might be more important for that day, you don't need to explain that to others. Not giving explanations gives you freedom to do the important things, not everything others expect you to do
- Set appointments for spiritual strength time and honor them
- Lead yourself because no one else will
- Recognize this is a Jesus issue
- make it about worship for Jesus, not yourself
- "Is Jesus Enough?"
- easily fall into Pride/Pleasure/Power
- Count the cost and embrace wisdom (Proverbs 5:1-9, 13, 15 - James 1)
- Admit something is broken
- When giftedness surpasses character, there is a problem
- Physical, Spiritual, Intellectual
- Teach your kids PLEASE, SORRY, THANK YOU
- Parents as Prophets (speak into your kids lives)
- Praying parent (not perfect parent)
- Establishing Core Values as a family (Batterson's - gratitude, humility, generous, courage)
In ministry you are going to disappoint someone, don't let it be your kids
- Clear Expectations for kids (spoken to church and leadership)
- kids love God, love the Church, love family
- Protected Privacy (sacred home)
- Family vacations/time away (plan 1 year out)
- Space to walk own spiritual journey when needed (Shauna's "rebellions years")
- didn't give her too much to rebel against
- do no break relationship with kids
- during the phase spoke to her as daughter, not in light of what the church would think
- Shauna subconsciously asked "Can I screw up, make you look bad, and will you still love me?"
- Bill showed up, even with her bad choices, she showed up on her time, doing her thing (visiting in college going shoe shopping)
- Shauna looking for a fight, Bill wouldn't give her one
- Understand each child is different
- each child serves differently - 32 year-old Todd (son) has never been on the stage at Willow, he would rather mow the lawn, then speak in public, they allowed each child to be themselves
- Servant parenting -taking interest in what kids are interested in
- Protected kids from hard conversations about church life
- communicated what the kids get to be a part of is exciting
- church is fun
- prayed in front of kids ("thank you for a church who loves and supports us")
- Parent/Pastor not play the victim role
- different seasons are hard in ministry, every career has hard seasons
- have appropriate expectations
- Intimacy is worth fighting for
- Be a last 10% family (give it all)
- Only 1 enemy in our family (the devil not each other)
- The family is a partnership
If you are still with me, reading ALL of this, I hope you gleamed something encouraging and challenging at the same time.