Last week I had the privilege of attending Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Leadership Institute is put on by Church of the Resurrection, the largest Methodist church in the United States. This church was started in 1990 with four people—Adam Hamilton, his wife and their two young children.
This is the fifth year I’ve taken a group from Chain of Lakes to the conference, (the tenth time--I think--I've attended myself) and it was the largest group we’ve had from our new congregation. It was a privilege to attend with Sally Narr, Val Owens, Jonathan Smith, and Pam Van Meter. Kathy Brevig would have attended, but she had an emergency appendix surgery two days before we were leaving.
This year Leadership Institute was made up of Pre-Institute sessions on Wednesday and then Leadership Institute on Thursday and Friday. One difference this year was Leadership Institute was made up of five talks or plenary sessions by different leaders instead of a combination of talks and workshops led by people from Church of the Resurrection. The church had less space to host Leadership Institute this year because of the renovation of one of the buildings. I would have preferred more workshops during Leadership Institute, but I understand why this happened.
My favorite Pre-Institute workshop was led by Jim and Jennifer Cowart, founding pastors of Harvest Church, a United Methodist church launched in 2001 near Macon, Georgia. The church now has an average attendance of 2,000 each weekend. One part of the workshop I enjoyed was a system of small groups called 3 G’s, grab, grow and gather. They develop curriculum and then encourage small group leaders to “grab” it. The small group leader then invites people in his or her neighborhood, work setting, and other networks to join a group.
I could see Chain of Lakes doing this system during Lent. Every year our congregation reads through a gospel—next Lent we will read through Mark. I could see having congregation-wide small groups on Mark. The groups would meet weekly for six weeks. I could share six short talks on a different part of Mark and have it put on a DVD or a flash drive; I would add some discussion questions, share the materials and—we have something that a person could grab. That person would gather their friends, co-workers and perhaps others from Chain of Lakes and have a small group. If the small group corresponded with a sermon series that I’m sharing on Mark there would be even more incentive for people in the small group to come to worship.
Adam Hamilton gave two talks and both of them excellent. He started Leadership Institute by sharing how church architecture is important for Millenials. She shared how some of the thinking of Church of the Resurrection in designing their new sanctuary. He also used the metaphor of a restaurant as a way to think of worship. She shared that ambience, service and the quality of the food make a great restaurant. Church leaders could think about the quality of the atmosphere of the congregation, hospitality and the quality of worship service.
Nancy Beach gave a compelling talk about what makes up a healthy church. She shared that a healthy culture in a church is constructed by individuals. She then shared and explained eight important parts of that culture. They are joy, intensity, self-awareness, humility, trust, men & women working together, commitment to speak candidly, and love.
The best part of time at Leadership Institute is talking to people who attended from Chain of Lakes. We now have a common experience of learning together. It’s not as hard to apply new ideas when I come back from this conference because the others who attended with me saw how these new ideas work.