I need to thank everyone who prayed and supported yesterday's launch of the New Kind of Preacher project. I likened it to beginning a mountain climb. The project Director Lauren and I knew that one new peer learning group would be there to make a start and a few pastors had said they were coming. But many more said they wouldn't be there! In the end the conference hall was surprisingly full with a striking variety of pastors, worship leaders and students.
Tomorrow we share in debriefing with an opportunity to see evaluation forms. From my perspective, the beginning worship session opened up into a day of daring to perceive what new things God is calling us to see: See I am doing a new thing: now it springs up do you not perceive it! (Isa 43:19) I particularly appreciated the time of confession as we spent time in the context of a later verse as God chides his people - 'You have not wearied yourselves for me' (v.22) because they have failed to call on him expectantly and constantly. Worse, God says:' But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses' (V24). Not wearying him with good stuff; drastically wearying him with bad stuff. I think setting the whole forum within this Scripture - every participant was given a copy in their folder - put us in a humble open-hearted place. Certainly, it did me!
Much happened. Positively, the sessions, panel discussion, table talks with leaders brought lively interaction. We definitely started to climb! Negatively, three things happened that have never occurred before in that conference hall. First, the clicker to operate my power point slides refused to cooperate. Many attempts were made to remedy this (I really wanted my presentations to flow because they were being videoed) but all to no avail. The technicians couldn't explain it. Second, a violent storm hit the building and rain poured through the previously impervious roof. People rushed in with giant bins to catch the water. Third, in the middle of my second session, a woman four times over the alcohol limit crashed her car into the conference center and was only 5 feet away from the front door and our welcome table. Police, fire and ambulance noisily rushed to the scene. Since the conference center is on a private road the whole incident seems utterly bizarre. I have found any advance for the Lord is accompanied by a spiritual battle when negative things occur. But this ranks as one of the strangest. Perhaps it means that God's new thing really is beginning to happen!