The last couple weeks have been remarkable. Here's just a taste of some of the stuff I've gotten to experience:
June 13 -- Julie and I picked up Tim Matthews at the airport. He was flying in from London, where he serves as a pastor at Holy Trinity Brompton, the church that is best known for starting the Alpha course. We got to take Tim out for supper and enjoyed a delightful couple hours with him. For the last five years, Tim has been overseeing pastorates at HTB.
June 14-15 -- The "CultureShift" conference on leading change in churches, with Jim Anderson from The Harbor in Hastings and Dave Huizenga from Bridgewood Church in Savage speaking Friday, then Friday evening and Saturday Tim shared about pastorates. Powerful stuff and lots to chew on, if I can ever get time to chew! During these two days I had the privilege of shuttling Tim back and forth from his hotel to the conference, so got to know him better. What a great guy! We share a passion for good coffee, so Starbucks was a regular stop.
June 16 -- Picked Tim up early and brought him to Central where he spoke at our morning services. Powerful sermon on what it means to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. You can listen to it here. (Click on the link and it will take you to Central's sermons page -- you can scroll down and listen to any of the three services that morning. Each was great and each was slightly different from the others.)
After worship on June 16th, Tim had lunch with quite a few pastorate leaders from Central. He shared many insights into pastorate leadership and what it means to be a mid-sized group rather than a small group. Many of us realized our pastorates have been waffling back and forth between mid-sized and small group tactics. If I have time soon I will post more about this because it's a great growth edge for our pastorates right now!
Sunday afternoon Julie and I drove up to my brother's place (the farm where I grew up) and dropped our dogs off. Then Monday morning we drove down to Alexandria, to Mt. Carmel Bible Camp for Central's Family Camp!
June 17-20 Family Camp at Mt. Carmel Bible Camp. What a great four days! I want to share a few pictures (click on the images to see them larger) and some thoughts about our time there:
This looks like summer, doesn't it? Ross and Doug handing out Freezies to the kids at the beach. And, after the photo was taken, to the adults. (Grape is my favorite.)
A couple dads enjoying their kids on the deck at night. Lots of good relational time, lots of family connection time. Good stuff.
During the talent show, Ross and Anita demonstrate the Chicken Dance. Oh, my.
Late night spoons game in our cabin while the parents sat out on the deck and talked. One of the coolest things about this photo is that you see Colter and Adam on the recliner looking at a Bible. They found in the front of the Gideons Bible where the publisher had printed John 3:16 in a dozen different languages, and they were quite fascinated by it.
Worship on Wednesday evening at the firepit was a special time. Each person was encouraged to bring a verse, a thought, a song, or something (in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 14:26) to share. Here's Patrick sharing a scripture. Many of the kids came prepared with a Bible verse (or verses) that was meaningful to them, and many (not just kids) talked about why that verse was important. Powerful!
Janet sharing her scripture at worship.
Of course, it was a Lutheran worship service so there had to be a couple people sitting in the back row not really paying attention. Bennett and I had a good time, though.
Sharing communion together at that worship time on the beach.
During the mornings, we had significant teaching time. Here Sonja is teaching about Aquila and Priscilla. She has a real gift for opening the Bible to those who hear her teach, and she is certainly passionate about her material!
After teaching, she deserved a break. One of the great things about Mt. Carmel is the restful environment and many places like this where you can just sit and relax.
Here's the whole motley crew of us at our ridiculous best!
If you want to see more photos, you can access all of Julie's pics at this site.
We went back to my brother's place on Thursday after camp ended and spent Thursday night and Friday morning there. Helped him clean out his gutters so the thunderstorms wouldn't flood him out. Loaded up the dogs and got on the road, stopping at Faaberg Lutheran Church to take a couple pictures I wanted to use for my sermon on Sunday, including one of Mom and Dad's headstone:
Driving home went well, and we had a couple days to decompress before I preached on Sunday, we went out for lunch with Julie's dad and sister and family, and now we're back to a more "normal" schedule. As you can probably understand, I'm still trying to process all the amazing input!
By far the dominant impression from all that intensity, though, is the amazing time we had at Mt. Carmel. The quality of relationships and the bonds between people and the way the Holy Spirit was working in all of it were truly amazing. Over sixty people from Central were there, and we had such a great time together. I think part of that quality happened because of the pastorates and D4D groups that have been meeting together before this time, so when we all came to camp we were used to living in Christian community, and many of us had close relationships prior to camp. But the Spirit was moving, moving powerfully, during those few days.
Next year Family Camp is June 15-20. Set aside the dates now, beef up your vacation fund so you can pay for camp (it is truly one of the best vacations you'll ever have) and if you haven't done it already, plug into a Jesus-centered community of people so the Spirit can be working in your life in the meantime!