As a newbie on the Berean convention planning team, I find myself in the good company of the sort of people I hope to have rub off on me. Longtime pastor Larry DeMoss is one of them. He’s kind, careful, and discerning. Rather than rushing in to ride the latest wave of church models and fixes trumpeted by book-writing, mega-church pastors, Larry’s gaze is cast heavenward to the maker of the ocean and everything in it. He waits to hear God’s call. Indeed, he could be the poster boy for the contemplative pastor.
Before our meetings, Larry usually gives a short devotional. At our most recent meeting, however, Larry cleared his throat, rubbed his hands over his eyes, and squared his shoulders first. I recognized immediately the face of fatigue, which only makes sense. You see, on the first day of June, tragedy struck Larry’s town when a van carrying eight Broken Bow High School basketball players collided with a truck on Highway 2 in Ansley, Neb. Two coaches and one player were killed instantly, and eight boys were hospitalized. In a town of 3,600 hurting people, there’s no end to the questions asked a seasoned pastor at one of only a handful of churches.
The good news is that Larry was prepared … with answers, at least. “The God who made this world and everything in it is able to turn disaster into hope,” he told more than 500 attendees at a prayer vigil he was asked to arrange. And I imagine that, all the while, Larry’s eyes were fixed heavenward … as usual. Indeed, with waves capable of capsizing an entire town, it helps to know who calms the sea.
But Larry didn’t stop there. He also shared with us the sobering fact that, even barring tragedy, a parent can only expect roughly 940 Saturdays with her child from his birth to his eighteenth birthday — a big mathematical problem introduced by Dr. Harley Rotbart in his book, No Regrets Parenting. It’s fair to say that, even in the best circumstances, time is fleeting.
Psalm 90:12 reads: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
I can’t say it’s my favorite verse, but it’s definitely one on which I need to stew awhile. You see, my kids are growing up. My oldest recently reminded me that she’ll be leaving in two years (oh yeah, college!), and despite my insistence that she must be mistaken, our middle daughter claims to have a boy(gulp)friend. I probably don’t need to tell you that our baby, well, isn’t. I’ve wasted so many Saturdays that, quite frankly, I’ve lost count.
You might’ve noticed that the upcoming Berean Convention is scheduled over a weekend. And if you did, you might be inclined to say, “Hey! You just said my Saturdays are fleeting. Why would I want to spend one at convention?!”
Well, because putting our heads together as a fellowship is how we prepare to navigate the tough questions of this tumultuous world. A big ship requires an entire crew, after all. And besides, we’re changing the way we do things.
In a recent phone conversation with Dr. Mike Huber (another guy we’re blessed to have rub off on us), he shared with me that a fellowship which prides itself on being a “family of churches” ought to be considering how we intentionally minister to the entire family. Kids and all.
Need some convincing? According to the several nationwide surveys, 80% of PKs end up requiring professional help for depression. Even more difficult to digest is the fact that a majority neither stay in the church nor claim to keep the faith.Needless to say, the deep waters encountered in ministry have a trickle down affect.
Of course, we in the Berean Fellowship have been blessed to see God work generationally time and time again … and we’d be wrong to take that for granted. In fact, if we believe we are commissioned by God to raise up the next generation of Berean ministers, then we can’t waste a single Saturday toward that end. Not even October 6.
So, here’s the plan: Instead of farming your kids out to different households or expecting one spouse to stay behind … or rather than dragging them along, sitting them in the back row and actually encouraging endless texting and surfing … we’re asking that you bring them along to what will certainly be a family friendly weekend. No, not just family friendly, family enriching. Kids of all ages will not merely be “cared for ” (insert “out of sight, out of mind” here), but rather enriched as the staff of Maranatha Camp — experts when it comes to providing meaningful activities and Godly encounters for youth– does just that. While we adults spend a Saturday (and a Thursday, Friday and Sunday besides) being fed and inspired and blessed by our brothers and sisters, we will know our kids are benefitting likewise. And when it comes to free time, we will be able to enjoy our immediate and extended family around the campfire. Think less “convention” and more “family reunion.” (It only takes a spark, to get a fire going … C’mon, sing along!)
We don’t have to look any further than the broken-hearted at Broken Bow to be reminded that this world is no smooth sailing ship. And it’s not going to be any better when it’s our children at the helm. Therefore, it’s essential that, in all things, we teach them to look fervently toward their Heavenly Father. He is our anchor. And at the end of our influence, He remains.
Matthew 6:33 reads: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I have to believe that includes a lifetime of Saturdays.