Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review of #RMDCourage

Two weeks ago the professional church workers of the Rocky Mountain District of the LCMS met in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado, for our annual conference. In my previous 15 years serving in this district our conference has been set up with pretty much the same pattern -- a pattern that was not necessarily bad in itself but one that had become tired over time. In addition, we seemed to be losing any purpose for spending the time and money for coming together. We were "together but separate", as I had written about previously. There was little sense of shared purpose and mission. There was little pride evident in being associated with the Rocky Mountain District. Clearly, something had to change.

For nearly two years I served on a visioning committee for this conference, seeking to bring back vigor and vitality to our gathering while at the same time giving us renewed purpose for joining together. To that end, we worked diligently to build a meaningful theme (Creating Courageous New Communities in the Digital Age) and incorporate this theme throughout the entire conference. We worked with an outside company to be intentional about how every minute was used and to bring a new look and feel to the gathering. Worship of our Lord was more than a single event but woven throughout our entire time together. Finally, we sought to build community and leverage the power of Lutheran educators coming together in the same place and time.

There were concerns about this new format. A natural resistance to change was a significant concern, especially when bringing visible changes to a past comfortable pattern. There was some angst, complaining, and grumbling going in.

Yet, in my view, the conference was, by the grace of God, a great success. Community was built. Participants largely accepted the challenge to be courageous in engaging one another. There was joy, laughter, selfies, singing and praise, and so many other elements. In the end, our wide-spread district community connected closer to one another and to our Lord.

On a personal level, here are a few things I learned at the conference:
  • The challenge of change is immense, but Lutheran educators rise to the challenge.
  • Stewardship of time and laser-like focus on purpose is essential to honor God and the time we had together.
  • A new look to the conference hall (see the photo above), while might be considered cosmetic to some, can really help set a new tone for an event. This showed that the conference was going to have a different type of professional approach.
  • God brings together the right people for His purposes. My colleagues on the conference team were amazing!
  • Meeting individual needs, such as providing water bottles, candy, personal greetings, etc. are small but tangible ways to show we care and to reach out to others.
  • Working with all these things to provide excellence is difficult work. Satan certainly was fighting so that we would fail. Yet God is so much bigger and mightier in the end!
If you are interested in learning more about the event or about the vision that brought this together, feel free to contact me at any time.  I would love to talk more about this event and its process because I think it has value for other districts.

Watch later this week to learn more about another key difference with this conference -- how the participants created resources to be used by others in ministry. You won't want to miss that post!

1 comment:

  1. It was a joy for me to cast the vision and lead a group of talented planners. I am thankful for educators willing to take risks and form community. Moving from associations to community in the RMD!