When I was a young pastor I attended a local conference. Between sessions, a peer asked me, “How is your church structured?” Is it run by deacons wives? It was tongue and cheek, but I took deep offense. I was blindsided by someone I didn’t know, asking a question that, at the time, I didn’t realize was striking at the truth. I knew then that our churches needed God to move in a fresh way.
Since then, for some reasons I think I know, but for others I’m still not sure of, God continues to bring me back to men’s ministry. I’ve been deeply convicted for the condition of male lay-leadership in the church. That conviction is the source of LGA’s conception.
Trial and Error
When I wrote the first manuscript for this conference, it looked like every other men’s conference I’d been to. It was frightening how quickly a genuine desire to see men’s lives changed Biblically could turn into a moralistic crusade. The problem was, after attending those events, I found myself right back where I had been.
That is not my prayer for this conference.
Living the Greatest Adventure starts with treasuring Jesus above all else. It requires a daily commitment to battle temptation and mortify sin. It demands putting on the new identity that Christ died and rose again to provide.
What God has Done
Since the first conference in 2017, God has done some powerful things. First, he has provided a devoted team of other men to help with planning and carrying out the event. There can never be enough thanks to suffice for their discernment and hard work. Second, he has provided access to Bates Creek Camp in Potosi, MO as a reliable location to meet the needs of the conference. Finally, he has spoken to the hearts of men from various churches all over our area to attend and take the LGA message back with them.
The Proving Ground
Living the Greatest Adventure 2017 was a lot of fun, but it was fast and furious. It was LGA’s infancy. It was difficult to get a feel for how all of the elements were working together to provide the experience I really wanted for the conference. 2018 was much better proving ground. All of the organizers were able to observe the flow of the conference and note places we can improve for next year.
We were blessed with an increase in attendance in 2018. 5 churches were represented as nearly 30 men joined us. Because of that number, we were able to justify having our worship sessions in the open air tabernacle at the camp. It seemed to fit perfectly with the overall feel and theme of the conference.
Friday night, we had a spirit filled time of worship and God’s word, followed by a bonfire and open pool. Saturday morning, myself and four other men were up with the sun for a morning run and prayer time in the camp prayer garden. The trails were cleared nicely and the quarter mile loop was just enough to get the blood flowing.
After a killer breakfast, we dove into session two, where intro speaker Johnny Patterson shared with us the value of meaningful discipling relationships with other men in our churches.
Then came the work. During this conference, I wanted to stress to the men how good and valuable working together can be. This year was a bit more of a challenge than we had hoped for. We were met with a torrential downpour that lasted more than an hour. This caused our work to go past schedule and we were not able to enjoy the full amount of gun range and pool time we had planned.
Our final session was a brief time of encouragement to wrap up our Colossians 3 text.
For me, God used LGA 2018 as a reminder of the true need we have for “mountain top” moments of renewal and challenge. He showed me that there is a hunger to be taught and discipled. There is a hunger for worship among the men of God’s church. It was encouraging to see select men from completely unrelated congregations acknowledge that hunger and get back on the trail again.