We flew into Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Saturday to meet our friends Chris and Lisa Rice from Bethany Baptist Church, which is in Red Deer, Canada. They scheduled a week of meetings prior to our two-day conference the following weekend.
We spent Saturday night through Monday morning in Canmore and Banff, Alberta, which gave us ample time to walk, talk, and tour. We needed time together to get a good overview of expectations for the week, as well as learn about the church body that we would be serving.
Lisa had done a masterful job prepping the church for this conference, as she partnered with her pastor to serve their congregation. For example, the body has been reading my articles for several months, which gave them a flavor of how we “practicalize the gospel” into lives.
Lisa also set up several meetings for me to observe and equip the various teams and ministries, which served as a ramp-up for the conference on Friday and Saturday. Our “conferencing philosophy” is not to “over-prep” until we get onsite and begin learning the church. I did not want to predetermine what I wanted to say until I knew the audience that I would be serving–as well as I could understand them.
The meetings that she had for me were instrumental in gathering the most data to serve them the most effectively. Here is my schedule before the conference.
1. Monday Evening: Met with the Servant Leadership Team to listen as they discussed all their ministry spheres of the church. Then I taught for approximately 30-minutes at the end.
2. Tuesday Morning: Taught the ladies Bible study while interacting with these women by answering their questions based on the discussion.
3. Tuesday Afternoon: Had lunch with the pastor and wife, which was a time to get to know each other and hear their hearts for their people.
4. Tuesday Evening: I attended the elder’s meeting as they covered various topics for one hour and then I equipped them by fielding questions for two hours.
5. Wednesday Morning: Taught the men at their breakfast meeting, which was at the church building.
6. Wednesday Mid-morning: I taught the 65-Alive group, which were the seniors from the church, as well as a few visitors from the community.
7. Wednesday Evening: I taught at the youth meeting, which was also interactive. A total blast!
8. Thursday Morning: Lucia and I met with the church staff to talk about envisioning ideas, things that I had observed thus far, and some plans for future equipping of the church.
9. Thursday Afternoon: We went to lunch with the two pastors and their wives, which was an excellent time of fellowship.
10. Thursday Evening: Lucia and I met with the men’s and women’s leaders for a few hours of questions and answers over light snacks.
These meetings were instructive in that I had met with every demographic of the church, had one counseling session, and several meetings with pastors, leaders, and friends.
The conference began on Friday evening where I had two sessions, and several sessions all day Saturday.
They also scheduled me to teach Sunday school and at the preaching hour on Sunday. From Monday to Sunday, there were sixteen teaching contexts, which gave us many opportunities to learn and serve this local body.
I did appeal to them to make all our times together as interactive as possible so I could learn them and adapt along the way. Their questions kept me from doing what I wanted to do.
Do You Know Me?
Our conferencing philosophy is similar to our counseling philosophy in that you don’t want to over-plan without knowing your audience. The best way to help a person or a church is to know them first.
Lisa did a fantastic job in preparing the church before our arrival and then giving me multiple contexts to learn the folks so that I could serve them well.
It was a blessed time. Many tears, deep conversations, encouraged lives, and I trust we collectively advanced the fame of the Father.