So get this....
There's a ministry conference going on here on campus right now, meaning that there's a whole lot of speakers giving a lot of instruction to people who paid to hear them in the hopes that the secret to ministry nirvana will be unlocked. The timing, for me personally, couldn't be worse. We just came off a week where we spent 50 hours listening to Dr. Bill Arnold (a professor of OT and Provost here at Asbury), Steve Chalke, and Brian McLaren, and are gearing up for another class that starts early next week. With dissertation deadlines looming near, another three days of lectures just wasn't what I needed right now.
But we were told to enroll in this ministry conference thing, and because they're paying the freight, I did what I was told. Yesterday, I supposed to hear Dr. Gutenson talk about post-modern ministry and Dr. Ellsworth Kalas (current interim president and our preaching prof for the first half of the year) preach. Well, let's just say that I'd had all the post-modernity I could handle LAST week so I bailed on that lecture, and then last night instead of hearing Ellsworth preach, I spent some time with the boys (wrestling in the front room) and then a little quality time with the wife (I'm sure Ellsworth would approve... he's that kind of guy).
So, if you are keeping score, I'm 0 for 2.
This morning I was scheduled today to hear Ben Witherington speak on his understanding on the afterlife, which I was really interested in, but I had to take a phone call from an executive pastor who I'm trying to set up a visit with for my dissertation. He asked lots of questions I really wasn't prepared to answer, so I had to go get some answers, and by the time everything was straightened out, I missed the lecture. FORTUNATELY, I know somebody who's got a cousin who dated this girl who's friends with guy who knows someone "in the know", and was able to procure a digital copy of the lecture.... so I'll get to it, eventually. Just not today.
Was then supposed to go hear someone from the General Board of Evangelism talk about evangelism, but ended up going to lunch with a DMiss student from Bulgaria who is writing a dissertation on how the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) is reaching gypsy populations through charismatic worship.... which was really cool. I mean, how often do you get to meet someone who is knowledgeable about Bulgarian gypsies? Not often.
If you are keeping score, I'm now 0 for 4.
I had to break out of the slump, so tonight I went to Estes Chapel to do some singing in worship led by Matt Maher, a worship leader who leads praise and worship at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Tempe, Arizona and writes some good music. I also heard some preaching from Ed Young Jr., pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas. Young's entire sermon was about the need for pastors and churches to be creative in their worship. To not be predictable and just do the same old, same old. He told stories about stuff Fellowship Church has done, like build a stage with a moshpit for a worship service and hang a rope from a ceiling so he could swing over his congregation to illustrate how anger works (don't ask for particulars... they weren't offered). He's very "hip" and very "now". His hair is styled complete with highlights. He wore hip clothes, and used the hip-hop phrase "off the cha-hain" at least four times even though he's (I'm guessing) in his mid to late forties.
Here's what I know as a former youth pastor. Sometime around about, oh, I don't know, 23 or 24 I ceased to be hip. I no longer knew any of the songs on the Top Forty and all my eighties slang terms sounded dated. I remember watching youth pastors ten years older than me trying to use "the lingo of the youth of today" and thinking.... I think it'd be better to just not be hip. I have never looked back, so, note to self, leave "off the cha-hain" out of my vocabulary.
Done, and done.
Anyhow, he's all high energy, running all over the chapel, and is just kind of frenetic for 45 minutes. He's illustrating being creative by even preaching creatively, which is creative in and of itself. Then he sits down, Matt leads some more worship, and we take off.
After the service, fellow BP Jason McIntosh and I are on our way home when we bump into Randy Jessen, the Director of the Beeson Center. He asked us how we liked Ed's presentation and then he drops this little bomb on us:
"You know, last year at the Beeson Module, when Ed spoke he gave that same sermon, word for word."
Dude gave a sermon on creativity that was a repeat. How ironic is that?
For me, then, the ATS Ministry Conference has been a bust, but I'm going to hear Richard Foster (author of "Celebration of the Disciplines") tomorrow, so I'm hopeful that things will end on a high note.
Or rather, that he's off the cha-hain. Fo shizzle my hizzle.