The Kingdom Conference | Ron Offringa
The Kingdom Conference is a way for churches in our diocese to gather together and reflect on what God has been doing locally, and to consider what he may want to do through us in the future. This year the conference was focused on the idea of how we ought to be making disciples. Our church has been focused on disciple-making for the past few years, so in some ways it felt like a refresher course. But most of all it felt like a confirmation that we've been on the right track as a church.
One of the speakers at the conference, JK, briefly mentioned an idea that resonated with a lot of us: kill your dogs. Now, I couldn't dream of killing my dog Barnaby, but the idea was more of an Old Yeller scenario (if you still haven't seen the 1957 classic Old Yeller, skip ahead). In the film Old Yeller saves the family members multiple times, but eventually becomes sick with rabies, which forces Travis to kill Old Yeller. In the same way we need to love the ways of disciple-making while they work, but kill them when we stop seeing fruit from those efforts. One example of this in our community has been door knocking. We saw a lot of fruit from that effort, so much so that we were able to launch a second service; but when we stopped seeing fruit from door knocking we moved on to try something new. It would have been easy for us to just keep knocking on doors as we grew comfortable with that method of reaching out--but God wanted to push us into something new.
One of the other benefits from the Kingdom Conference is being able to meet with people who are in the same ministries you are. I met with those who are working in children's and high school ministry, and I was encouraged to see men and women who were excited about working with students. We discussed different ways to approach youth ministry from a smaller church context and ways for children's directors to minister and connect not only with the children, but also with the parents who partner in making the children ardent disciples of Jesus. I loved being able to brag about how amazing Taylor has been to our children and celebrate the work we've seen God do in our high school and college students through PAX.
I was also able to meet with several worship leaders, which gave me a new perspective on how our church differs from most others in our diocese. Every worship leader I encountered led worship in a blended worship context (traditional hymns with some contemporary music mixed in), while we have a traditional and contemporary service. Even though we don't quite fit the norm of our diocese, I've been encouraged to see unity in our church and to have appreciation for each approach. Some of our people love to worship Jesus with hymns, some with electric guitars, some with both, but we all love God and want to give him our all.
We won't have another Kingdom Conference for another three years, but I look forward to being able to meet with these groups again to see how God has continued to work in our diocese. Most of all, I'm grateful that we've made disciple-making our priority and that I belong to a church filled with people who love Jesus and his gospel.