We arrived back in Ballard, after an endocrinologist appointment to help me pick an insulin pump, at 10AM. We, along with 800 or so other people, spent the day listening to so many speakers! Pastor Mark opened, talking about the call of a church planter. We then had a lunch session that specifically addressed potential Mars Hill campus pastors. (For those unfamiliar with Mars Hill Church, it currently has 7 campuses in the general Seattle area. Ballard is the largest and central campus, and the others are in neighborhood areas. We attend the one in Lake City, about 15 minutes from where we live. It's set up this way so people are actually in a church community with people who also live close to them.)
We then broke into elective workshops. I went to the one specifically for wives. We had a couple more speakers including Matt Chandler (I would highly recommend listening to his sermons), went to the Ballard Market for salad bar dinner, then headed back for the Total Church conference that the Resurgence brought. Pastor Steve Timmis from the UK's Crowded House spoke for 3 hours! His lectures were focused on us reflecting Jesus in local community groups and in our community involvement. It was so practical for us as community group leaders. We headed for home at about 10PM that night, totally tired, but out minds were buzzing!
On Tuesday we headed back and started off with a lecture from PJ Smyth. He is the pastor of God First Church in South Africa. We then went through the same lunch routine, wives' breakout for me, and back to a session by Pastor David Bruskas from City on a Hill Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He spoke on the difficulties and insecurities of planting a church, especially in a tough city. He talked about overcoming racial diversity, and about not making a church plant your little-g-god, but making Jesus the reason for being there. Pastor Mark then closed the conference, Pastor Tim's band moved into a musical worship time, and we headed home to continue processing and get ready for Community Group that would be at our home in less than an hour.
I learned so much from the women's session, and it was neat to hear what I'd just heard from some wives of pastors teach, echoed in the following sessions taught by other pastors. One of the biggest things that stood out to me was that a pastor's wife's first obligation is to Jesus, second to her husband, third to her kids, and then to the church and community around her. I've seen this fall out of order in so many different women's lives, and thinking about it makes me sad. Grace Driscoll said that a pastor so frequently come home totally drained and critiqued that they need their wife to minister to their needs and their kids, before running around to fill all the children's ministry and women's ministry and all the other needs that a church has. It's not wrong for a wife to serve, as long as her priorities are in order and she's not killing herself in the process, neglecting her family. I also learned practical ways for interacting with people in groups or church with you. I won't share them now, but will indeed put them into practice!
I also came a away with a list of books and resources to check out!
While we don't know what God's plan is for our future, we're open to the possibility of planing a Mars Hill campus somewhere. It was refreshing to see a Biblical approach to the process. Both husband and wife are interviewed, and children if they have any. As with a wife, the pastor's priorities are Jesus first, wife, children, and church and community last. I've heard even pastors and their wives say that spouse and family come after their formal ministry. We are both very glad that we were able to be part of this conference. Both of us were reminded of the need to bring Jesus with us into our conversations with people we live around, to make our community group centered on our responses to Jesus, and just being lovers of Jesus, unashamed of who we are.
(Please note, my conjugating abilities were severely tested in this blog!)