Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recharging in Monterey, Day 2

This was day two of Ripon Church of Christ’s 2013 Recharge: Excellence in Ministry conference. First off was a return to “Digging Deeper: Titus” with the Bear Valley Bible Institute’s Denny Petrillo. He continued discussing qualifications for elders, giving some goods thoughts on interpreting commands on hospitality, self-discipline, and other issues. He really stressed the importance of having elders free of doubt and willing to refute and silence opposition. Apparently, some elders have neither the Bible knowledge nor the ability to defend doctrine, warranting some attention to these issues. However, Petrillo neglected to address the fact that Christians tend to turn opinions into mandates. This necessitates having leaders who are willing to be critical and open-minded about the possibility that they are wrong in their understanding and interpretation of Scripture. To me, that’s not being “in doubt” but being honest and sensible, something of which more, not less, in needed in church leadership today.

In the second half of the lecture, Petrillo moved on to keyword studies for Titus 2, covering instructions to older men and older women. Some of his comments gave me ideas for further study, while others left me a bit uneasy. For example, he didn’t explain why he required brides to vow to “subject” themselves to their husbands after mentioning that the Greek indicated that a wife’s submission was to be a voluntary choice.

After a break, the sessions included Dan Jensen, preacher for Angels Camp Church of Christ, speaking on “Letting Them Grow,” and Tina Harrison, who I presume is the wife of Pleasant Hill Church of Christ’s Michael Harrison, speaking on “Embracing the Special Needs Family.” I sat in the second part of “Exegesis for Everyone” with Broadway Church of Christ’s Dan Owen. He continued unpacking important themes from 1 & 2 Kings, today looking at God’s name and presence associated with the temple throughout the monarchical history. He showed us how to glean appropriate modern-day applications without venturing off from the real purpose of the text.

The final morning session featured “Leaving Behind a Legacy” with Thom West, minister of Hayward Church of Christ, and “Physically Fit” with Keith Kasarjian, who’s associated with Bear Valley’s extension program. I sat in “Making the Most of the Marks in Your Bible” with the orange-sneakered Tami Roberts from Parker Church of Christ, who I think also teaches at Bear Valley. Using her Inductive Study Bible Mrs. Roberts gave examples of how she’s made the color-coding method work for her personal Bible study.

Jim’s Chinese Restaurant was too cramped – not crowded, but cramped – so we ate instead at the Golden China Restaurant. I liked the taste of their Mongolian beef, but the extremely low ratio of it to the vermicelli noodles made me feel a bit cheated. After lunch, we returned to the conference for a second round of “Idea Swap” presentations. Cliff Sabroe talked about how West Visalia Church of Christ has utilized booths at fairs, festivals, trade shows, and expos to make new contacts. Vice President of University Advancement Philip Goad encouraged people to check out scholarship opportunities at Heritage Christian University. And lastly, Steve Lloyd, evangelist with Chino Church of Christ, introduced Turning Points, a website featuring 5-minute videos to introduce important stories from the Bible. This project really interests me because he mentioned that they’ve incorporated information about the intertestamental period to help put the New Testament in context. I hope it becomes a successful ministry resource.

Then MinistryGeek Mike Hite gave a lecture on “Using Logos Bible Software” and Wayne Roberts, minister of Parker Church of Christ, taught “Public Speaking 101.” Since I was familiar already with both, I attended “Ministry Approaches: Gun Slinger or Peacemaker.” David Hinds, minister of Oceanview Church of Christ (Pacifica, CA), spoke on some unfortunate habits of some preachers: bullying from their pulpit, intentionally offending people, and not creating a welcoming environment for the lost. He offered some guidelines on how they can exercise more self-discipline and learn to compromise on non-essentials in order to successfully reach out to others.

The final session was another keynote panel, this time on “Culture and the Church.” Caleb O’Hara (preacher at Ripon Church of Christ), Tyler Kirkpatrick (associate minister intern with West Visalia Church of Christ), Dan Owen (minister at Broadway Church of Christ), and Wayne Roberts (minister at Parker Church of Christ) made some comments (some good, some not so good) about recognizing our own cultural biases, getting past difference tastes in dress and music styles, and seeking to understand, rather than just observe and judge, other groups.

I was a little disappointed that my question on reaching underrepresented ethnic groups was both edited and poorly answered. Alhambra Church of Christ is a black-Filipino-Hispanic-white congregation in a largely Chinese community; Newland Street Church of Christ is a predominantly-white congregation situated in the substantially Vietnamese Garden Grove. Unlike many other ethnic groups, neither of these have a significant connection with the Churches of Christ here in the United States. It’s extremely difficult to find church members who can cross those cultural barriers, and learning these languages, which are so unlike English and Spanish in many ways, is a daunting task, unrealistic for the average church member. It’s not a simple matter of mailing out tracts in other languages and targeting events to particular demographics when the target demographic can’t or refuses to identify with that of the local congregation, and vice-versa. Those have already been done, and have failed. I believe a radical new approach in needed, and unfortunately the panel never took the opportunity to brainstorm one into existence.

After a long day at the conference, we headed over to Pacific Grove Church of Christ for a Thursday night singing. (Notice my camera shot of the mural behind the stage, a rare sight.) It was a nice opportunity to sing many hymns and songs popular at Newland Street CofC but never sung at Alhambra CofC. Afterwards, we decided not to be adventurous and dined at Chipotle Mexican Grill. If everything goes as planned tomorrow, we’ll finally have an opportunity to do some sightseeing before long.