Last week, from Tuesday through Thursday, I attended the annual English District professional workers’ conference in Detroit, Michigan, close to where the district office is. I’ve faithfully attended many such events over the years, even though I am rarely thrilled by the program put together by the conference committee. I’ve learned I will always find a few bright spots that make going worthwhile.
First, the main speaker, Dr. Andy Bartelt, from the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis faculty was great, speaking about Isaiah 6 and 60. I especially liked his image of the breathing in and breathing out, that is, the church gathering around word and sacrament, then going out in to the world.
Second, I got to catch up with many of my friends from around the country, who I only get to see once a year.
Third, I got to meet some new people. This year, I got to know some of the guys doing inner city ministry in Milwaukee, WI, who are discovering other ways of funding this kind of work through grants and partnering with other church. I also met some men in their first year of ministry planting churches in inner city San Diego. Imagine starting from scratch, in a community of mostly agnostics and atheists, some homeless, some upwardly mobile professionals. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, so I learned a lot from our conversation. With nearly twenty-five years of pastoral ministry behind me, I’m learning to appreciate the next generations coming up, doing kingdom work, and making an amazing difference in a world that so much needs our Lord’s love.