Just a couple of days ago I attended the 78th Annual Wisconsin/Northern Michigan District Summit. I guess to say it in general terms…it is the annual business meeting for all of the Assemblies of God (A/G) churches in the stated area. From the time I got there people were asking me about my blog, many encouraged me to keep rocking the boat and a handful told me “you are a rebel….keep it up.” (I could list names but will protect the innocent). I am always amazed at how many people are reading the posts I put up. The funny thing is that I really don’t consider myself to be a “rebel” but rather someone who believes everything is up for discussion and why can’t we try new things in ministry in order to reach the unchurched?
With this many readers of my blog and online ministry it is safe to say not all of you are fellow A/G’rs. It would even be safe to say that many of you have had good and not so good experiences with the A/G. This is how life goes…I am quite sure Wal-Mart would love everyone to have a great experience at their store but the fact of the matter is…if you shop at the one in New London, WI you will have a less than flattering time. This does not mean we write off the entire chain.
Let me dispel a few myths that people have voiced concern with me about since I am affiliated with an "institution." Sometimes I wonder if people use that word because they are too lazy to get up on a Sunday morning to go to church (which ever one they choose).
1. Out of the box ministry like “Church at the Pub” may be offensive to some but I have been encouraged by the A/G office. The fact is that their flagship magazine “Pentecostal Evangel” did a write-up about it in last years Christmas edition.
2. The Wisconsin/Northern Michigan A/G is very hands off and has full trust in their pastors to lead a church and do ministry that fits their focus. We have very little to none of the A/G district office staff visit us on a Sunday even though we are located in the same town. It would be cool to see more come for a visit but understand they have a job to do and quite possibly a home church as well either A/G or non-A/G.
3. When it comes to finding friends in ministry and support….this has been the best organization hands down for that. When you are a pastor it is helpful to hang out with other pastors and their spouses. This concept is no different than accountants enjoying the company of other accountants...on and on.
4. I am not expected to fit a mold because there really is not one. Truth be told...I along with a hundred others wore blue jeans to district summit this year. Sure there are the fundamentals to subscribe to, but overall you are free to be who you are. We are all unique to the point I may make some squirm but the bottom line is that I am doing ministry and God is changing lives.
It was a great week at the district summit. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that talked to me about my facebook and blogs…some good and some…well…everyone is entitled to their own opinion (just wish they wouldn’t avoid me like the plague….we are all in this together). I thought the overall program of the event was good. Did I agree with everything that was said by the guest speakers? No. But that is the beauty of individuality…many said “amen” to a snarky comment about Rob Bell. I thought it was less than professional and even facebooked about it. I would expect the same and do expect the same when I will be speaking at Cornerstone Festival this summer.
Bottom line is that there are always things you like and don’t like about organizations you are affiliated with. However, that is how things work. The goods far outweigh the negatives and those things that are not so good really aren’t worth spending a whole lot of time on anyway. So there you have it…my take on my affiliation. Overall I think our district has a sharp business mind and good spiritual direction. They are here to support the churches when needed but overall are praying for our churches so that we can reach people….however that may look. Perhaps other states have it a little rougher….I cannot speak to that due to lack of information. I can say that it is good for Tracy and I to be plugged in up here however.