The value of pastors gathering together for 4 days in Chicago in the winter is idea-percolation. Sure, there is a lot of coffee being consumed. But sitting in the various lobbies and ballrooms, one can see the gears of creativity turning as notes are written on programs or lap-tops come out to capture new ways of thinking and doing ministry. Right now, across from where I sit are 3 youth pastors in deep strategic thought, a denominational leader listening to an impassioned young pastor, friends conferring with each other about caring for a friend no longer in ministry.
This morning Mirislov Volf grabbed our hearts with a lecture on Christian memory that sent many of us into wonderfully deep places in our own hearts and memories. I have connected with missionaries we will meet next summer in France, confirmands from other churches now in ministry, former staff persons now on their own and leading staff, retired teachers who inquire about our family, pastors of churches I formerly pastored who want to catch me up on people we mutually love (or have concerns about).
Yeah, there is a lot of politicking, job searching, and jockeying for positions of power. But there is a deeper level of the Spirit's meddling in hungry lives. Perk away!