Learning with Young Pastors
While in Southern California, I was invited by my friend Wade Olinger to attend and do a breakout session for a “Young Lead Pastor Gathering” hosted by Mariners Church. Since I’m not really young any longer and I’m not a “lead pastor,” I should say thanks to Wade for inviting me to the party. The gathering was designed for interaction. The presentations were TEDTalk-esque with people speaking for 15-20 minutes and time for Q&A. During the main sessions, we heard from leaders that I already knew or knew of like Larry Osborne, Brian Houston, and Tim Chaddick. However, we also heard from some new guys like Mark Clark, Daniel Fusco, and Sergio De La Mora.
I will post a few times in the next couple of weeks about what I learned specifically from some of the speakers. But first I think it is worth rehearsing why I think these gatherings are important.
1. You need to go to the non-conference conferences. As he organizes meetings like this, Wade is careful to call them gatherings rather than conferences. A conference is an event where we become attendees. These non-conference gatherings are a place to be a participant. As a leader, go to these meetings so that you can sharpen your own thinking by participating. Straight-up conferences serve an important purpose. I both go and speak at them. But always know what it is that you need next. Is it the learnings from a conference or the interactions from a less formal gathering?
2. You need connections outside of your tribe. It is in these type of gatherings that we can meet other leaders in our city that we normally don’t meet. And, sometimes we connect with a pastor from another denomination, network, or independent church that becomes a lifelong friend. It has been in gatherings like this one that I’ve connected with Wesleyan, Pentecostal, non-denominational, Presbyterian, Bible Church, Evangelical Free, and leaders from a multitude of Christian traditions. It keeps me humble and disciplined to see how God is working in other church families.
3. Listening to our peers. An informal gathering allows for the “guy like me” to speak, share, challenge, and empathize. It helps me to know that other leaders in the same season of life are navigating similar waters. And, in some cases, I find that my peers have already navigated the waters successfully and, learning from them, I know what to do.
4. Listening to our elders. We had some older brothers in the room with us for the Young Lead Pastors Gathering. They were able to pour out what Fusco called, “Some serious Jedi wisdom.” Young guns in the ministry can get caught up in the mentality that no one has had to deal with “this” before. But no matter what your “this” is, there is an older leader who has seen it, done it, and led people through it. Sit down, be quiet for a minute, listen, and then ask about a million questions when it is time.
5. We need instruction and inspiration. Normal conferences are usually designed for one or the other. Less formal gatherings allow for both and the participant decides what is most needed in their own life. On this day, I was able to hear some great nuts-and-bolts lessons about leadership and get refueled through some personal interaction. It is a discipline that we need to have as leaders to search out a balanced diet of both truth and empowerment.
In some future posts, I’ll share some of the specific lessons learned. In the meantime, I highly suggest that you connect with Wade Olinger through Twitter and other social media outlets. He is planning more gatherings like this around the United States and you’ll want to be there.