Monday morning is here and it is time to start wrapping up my loose ends here at Marin Covenant Church and get my last few touches with my family. I only have today and part of tomorrow here in Northern California to get done all that must get done in my normal life. I must do this well, because at the exact same time, I am also starting to aim my thoughts and heart towards Atlanta.
I have to admit, it is a strange thing to be dreaming of Atlanta, but for me, this next week in Atlanta is my version of Winter Camp!
As a youth pastor I work so hard to get my kids to plan ahead, sign up, show up, and then experience all that God has for them during a weekend away every January. And for our students, winter camp has become a mid year boost, a regular pilgrimage to the mountain to hear from God, be encourage by God, and be inspired to live into all that God has made us to be!
Winter camp is incredible for students and rewarding for me. But it is more of a work weekend then a mountain top weekend for me. Just because I am no longer in High School doesn't mean that I don't need my own mountain top experiences, my own regular retreats, my own inspiration and refreshment.
THIS WEEK IS MY VERSION OF WINTER CAMP!
On Tuesday Night I am taking a Red Eye so that I will arrive into the ATL Wednesday morning ready to rock and soak up all that God has for me at the Orange Conference. (Ok, I might need a RockStar or two to make up for the lack of sleep from the red eye)
I am so looking forward to spending this week being inspired by incredible speakers like, Andy Stanley, Ryan Leak, Doug Fields, Virginia Ward, and Kara Powell. I am also going back to my roots and jumping on to the high school leader ministry track. There are incredible tracks for senior leaders, children's workers, middle school leaders, volunteers, and everything in between. But for me, I want to continue to hone my craft and tune my heart for the ministry that I invest most of my time and energy into.
I am also looking to walk away with just one or two practical things I can do to make the ministry I lead better. There will be thousands of ideas thrown around, but I am looking for just one or two. Seriously, we already have ministry machines we are managing. If we try a complete reboot, or fully embrace some brand new model we will simply get crushed. But there are always ways we can improve and things we can do better, and this week I am open to them for me and for my ministry.
I am looking to connect with friends and colleagues. Ministry is such a strange vocation and life. I have found it harder to make friends with people who "get it." How fun, that for a few days we will be surrounded by thousands of people who's main thing is serving the Church and following Jesus. We are a strange bird, but when we are all together, for a brief minute, we seem normal. I can't wait for the organic conversations and connections with new and old friends. (PS: IF YOU WILL BE AT ORANGE AND WANT TO CONNECT OVER COFFEE AND TALK MINISTRY OR SPIRITUAL FORMATION, EMAIL ME!)
Mostly, I am looking forward to meeting with the Holy Spirit! I am not going to lie, I am tired and weary. My cup is pretty dry. For a few days, I get to walk up to the mountain to meet with God. So I will not miss out on being present in worship and to carve space for prayer and reflection. For at the end of the day, it is who we are in Christ that matters and sustains us so much more than what we do or accomplish.
If you are going to be at Orange, I am praying that God meets you and grabs a hold of your heart. That you would be refreshed, inspired, equipped and sent. And for my friends who aren't there this week, I hope you join us online and by proxy soak it up. But even more than that, my prayer for you is that you would make space to climb the mountain in your context so you too can encounter the living God and be healed, transformed and empowered to do the unique ministry God has called you to!
ATL, Here I come!