Road trip! We jumped into J.E.’s Suburban Thursday morning and headed east to Abilene for some team-building and the restructured Summit. Cory, Kristin, Ryan, J.E., and I were eager to hang out with groups of ministers in our own areas of interests, to reconnect with old friends, and to hear Andrew Root, the theologian and author of last year’s “Churches and the Crisis of Decline.” But a beautiful side benefit was the bonding a group experiences on even a two-hour road trip.
You can learn a lot about people when you get them together away from their regular day-to-day contexts: the extremes Ryan goes to in planning every detail of our adventure, Cory’s shaving habits, Kristin’s chewing gum obsession, J.E.’s questionable tastes in music. The things that make us laugh and Ryan’s “bit” about Jerry Seinfeld not being that funny. The things that stir our hearts to action. The love we share for Christ and God’s people at Golf Course Road. The pressures and stresses that come with congregational ministry in a time like ours. The varying levels of concern we shared about the lack of a good late night ice cream place in Abilene.
We were overjoyed to see some of our GCR kids who are attending school at ACU. We ran into sweet Callie Doke and her boyfriend, Gabe, after chapel at the newly remodeled Moody Coliseum. The super-fun Emma Daman drove us around campus in her golf cart with supreme skill and professionalism – five stars! I was blessed to see a couple of our Central kids from our church in Amarillo: Chelsea Flow and her new husband, Riley, who are now ministering in San Antonio, and an exuberant Eli McCall who seems to be truly loving his Wildcat life.
It was great seeing Todd Lewis and Lance Parrish. Todd and I served on the city council together in Marble Falls a million years ago and worshiped and served and raised young children together in that wonderful Marble Falls church during the ’90s. Lance and I began our congregational ministries together at Legacy – he was our Junior High Youth Minister and I was a first time preacher in 2007. I enjoyed sitting at the feet of Randy Harris again. It was at once terribly sobering and wonderfully encouraging – just like every session with Randy. I was thrilled to hug Judy Siburt’s neck and catch up with Carson Reed. I ran into Jake Perkins and Wes Crawford. It was really good to be in a familiar place with so many familiar people, worshiping together, talking about ministry together, praying together. Our gracious Lord has been very kind to put so many of his best people in front of me over the past 20 years, to walk with me and help me, to teach me and encourage me in this task for which I’ve been divinely called, but for which I am so horribly ill-equipped. None of that is lost on me. Some of the very brightest and best people in our Christian tribe have poured themselves into me over the years. I have been highly favored by our God. And I am forever shocked and eternally grateful.
Back to our ministry gang at GCR. Another tremendous blessing for me from our Lord. Carrie-Anne and I have been in Midland now for about 14-months. That’s long enough to learn enough about where we’ve landed, the people we’re with, and what’s probably ahead. And it’s good. It’s very good. It was just two hours in a Suburban to Abilene there and back, a few meals together, an impulsive hour at Minter Park, and some conversations about ministry and our current culture. But it confirmed my love for this group our God has put together at Golf Course Road. We’re committed to the vision and direction the Lord has mapped out for our church, to the relationships within our ministry team and our families, and to working and serving together in Midland, Texas by his grace. God can work with a ministry team like ours. And he is.