Yesterday instead of working, I got to hang out with some of our kids and youth ministry leaders and volunteers from church and attend a conference in Lancaster called Orange Tour. There were so many great speakers all in one place and it just what this semi-newbie senior high Sunday school teacher needed to hear. The theme this year focused on what it means to be a neighbor. It comes at a very fitting time in our world today. With so much division and hate, I think we have forgotten what being a neighbor looks like.
Because I’m still processing (as usual…), I thought I’d just throw out some of the things that really jumped out at me.
While all the speakers were excellent, one of my favorite speakers was Jon Acuff. I have been following Jon’s work for a few years and he’s quite the inspiration to me as a writer and editor. (Side note/shameless plug: My friend Sheri wrote a book called Dear Ellie and I had the joy of editing it! You can find it here: Dear Ellie.) He has some great books out right now such as Finish, Start (ironic that those followed each other), Quitter, and Do Over. His main session talked about goals and how we are terrible at following through with goals. 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the third week of January! I don’t even make resolutions because of that fact. It was really awesome to put a voice to a writer and he was as funny as I expected. Here are some of the high points from Jon’s talk.
- “Starting is fun but the future belongs to finishers.”
- “You remember the goals you don’t finish. Goals you don’t finish don’t disappear. They become ghosts that haunt you.”
- “Nothing attracts new ideas like trying to finish an old one. Don’t let “what’s next” distract you from “what’s now.” Don’t shame the new idea. Put it aside until you’re finished.”
- “Make it fun if you want it done.”
- “There are things in your day that aren’t fun. Let’s be honest- kale isn’t fun.” (I disagree.)
- “Atheists don’t say “I don’t know your Lord, but man do Christians have fun!”
- “Nothing demoralizes a team like a leader who picks the wrong size goals.”
- “If you can’t stop everything, simplify it.”
- “Borrow someone else’s diploma. Learn from others. Ask other churches how they grew.”
There was much more to the conference than just Jon’s sessions. I also went to hear Tasha Morrison talk about “Coming to the Table” and how that ties into being a neighbor. She talked a lot about how to do this in terms of racial reconciliation. She stressed how important it is to listen. It is so key to just listen to concerns and hear about people’s experiences. She has a great curriculum out about racial reconciliation that I’d love to dive in to. Something she said echoed what I learned in my psychology of racism class.
Don’t be color blind. Be color caring. Be color caring.”
When we’re color blind, we’re essentially ignoring cultures and things that the cultures bring to our world. We need to celebrate those things. Being color brave and color caring means looking beyond something like skin color and embracing each person for who they are as people. If we ever hope to bring reconciliation, we need to start seeing each as people. And the church needs to step up and get things started. We unfortunately are not doing nearly enough as we should.
I came away from this conference feeling more renewed and also excited for all that God has planned for our church. We have a lot of changes happening, but I think they are good changes, even if I hate to see certain people move on. I’m there are bigger and better things to come and I’m excited to see what they are.