I spent the last three days at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a Roundtable. I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where it blizzarded one day and the temperature hit negative seven one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.
Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:
1. These guys inspire me.
My friends and are all pastors. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. Just being with these guys, seeing how well they live out their commitment to God, inspires me. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going.
2. We improve each other’s churches.
As part of his evangelism system, Jim Nicodem hosts “Wow Weekends” two or three times a year. He interviews a high-profile guest during the message portion of the service. The “Wow” factor of having such a guest provides a big incentive for church members to invite friends. Since learning this strategy, I’ve hosted a former Mafioso, a former terrorist, a world champion surfer, and a paraplegic tri-athlete. On each of these weekends, hundreds or thousands of guests have come through our doors. On each of the weekends, dozens have come to Christ. They don’t all stick, but they now know that we exist and what we have to offer. I doubt I would have ever thought of “Wow Weekends” on my own.
Glenn Gunderson has a way he prepares sermons that includes a gripping video clip or two in every message. My preaching improved when I learned his system.
One of the issues I’m facing right now is how to structure my staff. Rob Bugh is a genius at this. During a drive to dinner he gave me some great suggestions on how to create better lines of support and supervision.
3. We talk about trends.
This year we spent extensive time talking through our responses to the homosexual movement as it relates to the local church. As a result, I’m both more compassionate and better informed. John Jackson supplied some resources and Bryan Wilkerson supplied some perspective that truly helped me.
Rob is something of an expert on Muslim evangelism. He filled us in on the amazing things the Lord is doing to introduce them to Jesus. Wow! Just, wow!
Two years ago, I filled my friends in on what God is doing on the internet via Global Media Outreach (GMO). GMO led 19 million people to Christ that year, using local church members to disciple them. My friends are all pretty-well informed, but none of them had heard of this fresh approach to global outreach. Last year I told them about The Issachar Initiative. My friend Paul Eshleman (creator of The Jesus Film), has brought together all the elements and institutions necessary to evangelize the 446 remaining Unengaged Unreached People Groups of the world over the next decade. We all need to know about this as well.
Derwin Gray: "Jesus wants to advance God's Kingdom through our lives."