I enjoyed another great day at Country Lake Retreat Center in Henryville, Indiana. We heard from Bob Russell again today as he taught us about preaching. I'd heard much of it before at Preaching Summit, but it was good stuff, nevertheless, as we were able to interact with him and ask questions.
Three of Bob's elders also talked with us about how the eldership functions as Southeast. These guys are sharp, and they reminded me a lot of our elders at South Lansing Christian Church. We have an excellent group of elders there. Not only are these men committed to Christ and his church, but they are supportive of our staff and good leaders. I really apprecaited them. Southeast is planning a second eldership retreat next fall that I hope our guys can attend. I want them to experience the same refreshing that I have this week.
We also heard from Dr. Kevin Ezell, a Baptist megachurch pastor from Louisville. He talked with us about some of the early struggles he faced at his church. He had to fire, for instance, 23 staff people in a 24 month period when he arrived at Highview Baptist. He was a stictch and had us laughing until our sides hurt.
From there we drove to Southeast to visit with Dave Stone and to take a tour of their facilities. Amazing. Huge. But also quite complex. As we discussed their men's ministries, their women's ministries, and all their other ministries, I thought about our efforts to become a Simple Church. I'm convinced that we're on the right track. Just three things folks: Seek, Study, and Serve God.
One thing that Southeast is doing that is light years ahead of South Lansing is in connecting first-time attenders and new members to the church. Their assimilation process is specific, defined and hums along like a Swiss watch. I especially like that they're connecting new members and attenders to a five week small group as soon as they join (something Wally, our Associate Minister, and his team has been pushing for). I think we need to send Wally and his team down here soon to learn the ins and the outs of a system that could pretty easily be adapted for South Lansing Christian.
We rounded out the day by bowling with Bob and then eating dinner at Bob and Judy Russell's home. What a great day.
I am looking forward to coming home and implementing what I've been learning!