Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Did I Drive 1400 Miles To The Epic Fail Pastors Conference?

First session, Thursday evening. First question: Why are you here?

I told my fellow-fails around the table that I'd spent the last 700 miles asking that question. My answers were  sketchy. I tossed a few ideas out on the table. I talked about the tide rolling out. I combed through the eleven-plus hours I had driven, and what I'd thought about.

I didn't know where to start.

Two weeks before the conference I shared my thoughts about the why thing here in writing. With my literary tongue in my cheek, and a wink of my ironic, sarcastic eye, I claimed I wasn't a failure. Yeah, well . . .

FAILURE is a big word. The list is -- long. Too long.

There's more than enough failure in my life. I'm not at a loss to find it, just to enumerate it. If the measurement of success at a conference on failure was how long your list was, it would take some time. More time than we had. More paper than they provided.

I'll admit - at first I was disappointed. Not one of the guys at my table was a pastor. All were in ministry of some kind, but none of them was a practicing clergy-person. Wasn't this supposed to be for pastors? These guys aren't going to get me. 

Most of the attenders were younger than me. Many of the participants at the conference could have been my children. Several were just starting out in ministry. How could they even have had enough time to fail yet? They're just baby pastors!

I felt lonely from the start, inadequate, old, a has-been in a room full of will-be's. Low tide. A failure.

Epic Fail Pastors Conference . . . Fail.

It didn't take long -- about ten minutes -- to understand what we were doing. This was . . .

  • A gathering of people who had been drawn like iron shavings by the magnet of the Spirit from around the world (one guy came in from Australia).
  • A quiet, sincere group of ministry-types who were broken like me.
  • A building 100+ years old, once a church, now a bar, now a place where God was up to something.
  • A dressed-down bunch where I felt like I failed the code of raiment because I brought Dockers.
  • A level field. Sinners, spiritually impoverished ragamuffins, wonderers and wanderers. Each of them read the name -- Epic Fail -- and knew they had to be here. Who would come to a conference like this? We would. All of us.
  • A conference unlike any other. In fact, "conference" is probably an inaccurate choice. But if you think people would be wary of this one, who do you think would come to Epic Fail Pastors Group Therapy Retreat?
  • A place God showed himself worthy. And enough.

I hope there will be another one. Maybe many more across the map. For me. For you. Really - you should go.

And here are five reasons you should drive 1400 miles to the next Epic Fail Pastors Conference:

  1. On the way there, you can make your list.
  2. On the way there, you can listen to loud music.
  3. On the way there, you can sing whatever you want.
  4. On the way there, you can enjoy the delusion that you have it all together.
  5. On the way home, you can grieve.

The Epic Fail Pastors Conference was a success. Whatever that means.

Read more about it from the source: J.R. Briggs.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Grandma Tales

Our Geriatric Recreational Supervisor (aka Garrison Benson) has been organizing daily Bingo games with Grandma. Sometimes it's just Gary and Grandma, other times someone else sits in. Today Jon played.

They played a specialized game called "Grandma Bingo." The only real difference in the rules is that Grandma always gets to think she wins, even though everyone else wins, too.

Grandma has had a rough day. But who can't be cheered up a little with a good Bingo game? Thanks, Gary.