Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pastoral Conference, Day 1

A good day yesterday. The major presenter was Dr. Joel Elowsky, a good friend, who talked about the Church Fathers and early African Christianity. Then there was a presentation from the South Wisconsin District Mission developer on "Bridging Cultural Barriers" since a lot of our conference is about cross-cultural outreach. He was engaging and, I must say, not your typical mission developer! I say that because - sad to say - most mission folks beat people up with the Law. They simply stand up there and say "You have to reach more people! You have to go! You must . . ." and we all know that. We all know that, no matter how much we are doing, there is more we could be doing, and so just wind up feeling like crap. But this man was - thankfully! - different. In fact, one of his greatest lines was: "BEWARE of those who come to you and say: "You must change or die."" YES! He emphasized not losing who you are and what you are about for the sake of mission, and using the Small Catechism for your outreach. THAT is what people need and are longing for. I hope people were listening. I couldn't agree more.

This man then also preached for the Divine Service after dinner. And He preached the Gospel! Again, sadly, I can't tell you how many times at these kinds of gathering, people think they have to preach such a wonderful sermon and have to be so mission oriented that it winds up as all Law. Last night, we received the Gospel - in a wonderful and well done liturgy, good preaching, and the Lord's Supper. So my thanks to Rev. Dan McMiller and, if you ever need a mission person for a presentation, I would recommend him.

We had some fellowship time after the service, and it was good to sit around with the brothers and talk, and to catch up with some old friends. Met lots of new guys to the district as well. We'll see what today holds. My presentation is in the coveted right-after-lunch-slot (!), so hopefully I can keep people awake! :-)

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