I just finished Day 2 of the RHMA Small Town Pastor’s Conference. It was another day of great speakers and sessions. The conference is geared to allow you to choose a series of workshop topics depending on your particular ministry needs. The 2 I attended today were very helpful, but I thought one had the potential to help many of you out there. If you go on the RHMA website and look at the brochure for the conference, you can see the speakers and topics. I am sure that if you contact their office, they can send you CD’s of the sessions for a nominal fee. They are also having a conference in Waxahachie, Texas featuring H.B. London on October 10-12, 2011. Next year’s conference in Illinois will feature D.A. Carson and is scheduled for April 23-25, 2012.
Back to the seminar topic that I believe will help many of you. Dennis Schlappi is executive pastor at New Castle Bible Church in Mackinaw, Illinois. He has served in that church for 23 years on staff and his Master’s Degree focused on church constitutions. He has led his church through 2 revisions of their church constitution and he presented a workshop on the process he used to work the congregation and leadership through that process. After the seminar I asked him for permission to obtain his material and post it on here to help many Pastor’s who struggle with this issue. He is going to graciously work with me to allow that to be published here. After I get back home, I will be emailing him and placing some of the material and resources on this website. He is a tremendous resource and is someone who has been in the trenches applying this material.
I came to this conference excited about the speakers and topics. Make no mistake about it, the speakers and topics have been extremely helpful, well delivered and pertinent to small church and rural ministry. They are everything I expected and more. But that has not been the greatest part of the conference for me. The greatest part has been the fellowship with like minded Pastors from all backgrounds, denominations, and walks of life. Each night the conversations at the table seem to go longer and the laughter louder. Tonight the topic turned to unusual experiences and problems regarding animals in the church. One Pastor was talking about how he had to deal with a woman with a Seeing Eye dog and she would share communion with her dog. He talked about how the leadership had to decide the best method of dealing with the problem. Just when I thought I had heard it all, he comes up with this great story of rural pastoral ministry.
The fellowship with other pastors is reminding me how many of us are out there plugging away in obscure places with unique problems. It is encouraging to see the passion and love for the people in rural areas. It is great to hear the stories of how God is working. It is wonderful to laugh at the unique problems we face and the creative ways we go about to solve them. In short one of the greatest things I have experienced this week is the fellowship with like minded people. Somehow, that never gets conveyed in a brochure.