I spent the last week at the Orange Conference with our church staff. It is my third year attending this conference and it is one of the highlights of my year, every year! This blog is about some of the “take aways” that I had from the conference. The focus of the conference (and the reThink group) is the continued push for the church to partner with parents in the spiritual development of their children. To often we see spiritual development of children as the job of the church, when in reality, we as parents have much more influence over the lives of our children than the church could. As a preschool and youth leader in my church, I go to this conference to learn new and better ways on how to better serve those God puts into my life on Sunday or Wednesday, but I always come away more convicted on what I need to be doing to serve those God has put into my life 24/7. My own family…
Some quotes and highlights:
Sticky Faith, by Kara Powell, The Fuller Youth Institute
We have a generation that wears their faith like a piece of clothing. When we are with church friends we wear our “Jesus Jacket” and we are with the world it is easily tossed aside. Our faith needs to be more than surface clothing. It needs to go deep into our heart and penetrate our lives otherwise our faith will be easily tossed aside during time of trials or frustration.
The Land In-Between, by Jeff Manion, Ada Bible Church
While God maybe interested in rescuing you in the desert, he may not be interested in rescuing you from the desert.
The land in-between is fertile ground for spiritual transformation but it also the place where faith goes to die.
Jeff talks about the land between Egypt and the Promise Land, the wandering years in the desert. He talked about the Israelites complaining and doubting God’s provision and wondering how (or if) their life would ever be good again. He compared this to our times of trial and struggles and our lives. We have a choice, God can use that time to bring us closer to him and deepen our relationship with Him, or if we let our complaints and discouragement overtake us, such an experience cause us to turn away from Him.
How do we instill a faith in our kids (and in ourselves) that doesn’t die in the desert (in times of trials)? How do times of trials become opportunities for spiritual transformation?
Jud Wilhite, Pastor, Central Christian Church, Las Vegas, NV
Ministry is messy because sin is messy. As a church we have to be willing to get messy.
Often as Christians we all have in our minds those that we never believe should never enter the doors of our church, most likely those people are social outcasts – the homeless, those with dirt or disease or some other sin that we have mentally classified as unsafe to be around or to have our children around. Probably the kind of people who Jesus sought out while He was here on this earth.
There is a richness in our faith that develops when we are willing to get uncomfortable. But as humans we tend to draw toward what makes us comfortable. We don’t want to deal with pain or rejection or people or situations that make us uncomfortable. We are afraid to stretch ourselves, and yet that is often what we have to do in order for spiritual transformation to happen. Faith that is deeper than surface faith, a faith that goes deep into our heart and our lives happens when we live in the land in-between and fight for spiritual transformation rather than allow our faith to die.