STORY (CHICAGO) 2011 MIND DUMP

This past week Kristin and I had the chance to go to the Story Conference. The story conference is the brainchild of Ben Arment and is held in Chicago. It was great week for Kristin and I so I thought I would mind dump all my thoughts post conference.

  • It is so great to be at a church that values me getting away and trying to get better at my job.
  • It was also great to be able to have time away with my wife. I love when she get to see and experience the same things I do so we are on the same page and can maintain the same vision.  We also had a couple of nights in Chicago without kids…very nice.
  • How could we both go to this conference you ask? We were hooked up with volunteer positions by our good friend and Grace College’s own Gail (Smith) Mayes and also stayed at her house and finally got to meet her awesome husband Jason. They took great care of us and wouldn’t even let us pay for most of our meals, so all we had was 3 tanks of gas, some tolls and a few other things. HUGE BLESSING.
  • It was great to see the behind the scenes of another conference and I hope it can make me better at the others I am involved in.
  • Part of our job was playing host to speakers and making airport runs.  That was great to meet people and have some selfish time with them.
  • Kristin got to play host to Lauren Chandler (wife of Matt) and really had a good time.  I think we were both impressed by how engaging and gracious she was to us. She made us talk about ourselves the whole ride.
  • As far as the conference, it was great. Its hard to explain why because it is not a typical pastor’s conference. I didn’t come back with a list of 7 things that I am going to tweak in our systems.  Instead I feel like my creativity tank is full again.  I rubbed shoulders with people who are outside of my normal lane but still in the church and Christian non-profit world who are way more creative and doing things much different than me. Got to see music, screen printing, storytelling, worship leading, speaking, filmmaking, lights, stage sets, and so many things that just inspired me.
  • I also came home with a bunch of non-cotton great t-shirts so in a shallow way that is a success for me right there!
  • Great week, great conference, great people, great friends, thanks God.
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ACTS 2-4…COULD IT HAPPEN TODAY?

My pastor recently did a staff devotion in prep for teaching on Acts 2-4 and the early church. I was challenged to say the least and thought I would just echo some of the things he said and bullet point them.  I am stealing, but giving him credit because Jesus will be back before Rick Nuzum has a blog.

It all starts in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes moves and Peter stands up and explains it and shares the gospel.

Acts 2:41 – Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The next verses are the famous ones that people always use to talk about small groups and what the church should look like day to day…

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Other great things were happening too.

Peter and John were boldly proclaiming the gospel and people were astonished with the way they talked. They could tell they were talking about something bigger than themselves and their own strength, they could tell they had been with Jesus.

Verse  31 – After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The believers being the church wasn’t just a one time occurrence in the previous mentioned verses, it gets says again..

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Here are the questions that Rick asked that started to mess with me and have had my mind swirling about “church”.

  • Was this an anomaly? Was it a one-time occurrence that God made happen to jump start the spread of the gospel?
  • Could God do this sort of thing today?
  • Do I believe, act, and lead as if I believe God could do this sort of thing today?
  • It is plain to see the Spirit was moving through people, in people, and in their town. Is it possible that the Spirit was moving because people acted boldly in faith with an expectation that God would surround their very literal obedience?
  • Is it possible that the Spirit moves in relation to the level of sacrifice, commitment, and faith that a church shows?

Two weeks later and I am still chewing on this. Some simple questions and I am sure the application doesn’t take much reading between the lines for any believer in their context. Happy thinking…