Not Ohio – Day One of Stephen Leader Training

Arriving in sunny and breezy Florida, it was in the upper 50’s, on the cooler side for Floridians.  But my winter vest and sweater were too much here.  I was waiting for a woman from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando to pick me up to take me to the hotel.  (St. Luke’s provide a transportation ministry to folks who need rides around the city to medical appointments or other various services.)

Jacky and I got into conversation about the sizes of our respective churches and our Pastors and the kinds of ministry we feature.  St. Luke’s is enormous and has to serve a transient tourist flux, as well as the locals in a large metropolis.  Speaking about our congregation is fun — highlighting what we do best.  We have a challenge of being in a college town, RIGHT UPTOWN, but also serving the local population, which is an entirely different mix compared to uptown.  But we strive to do it well, as Orlandoians do it well.  We thrive where God plants us.

There are 307 folks from all over the U.S. at this training. Many are already trained as Stephen ministers, but are stepping up to be trained as a Leader.  Many are starting Stephen Ministry for the first time.  When I tell how many ministers we already have, and how long we’ve been a Stephen Ministry church, compared to the size of our church, people looked pleasantly surprised.  The truth is we are a caring church, and our congregation has the reputation of being a welcoming, kind, good-feeling church.

Last night we were required to do an exercise with a person we did not previously know.  I stepped out and connected with a woman named Judy.  We connected instantly on many levels, and we are going to be prayer partners for the week and perhaps beyond.

One thing that is very loud and clear to me is this:  Faith requires RISK to grow.  If we remain in our comfort zones, it isn’t that God won’t bless us and care for us and provide for us, but I believe that He loves when we step out for Him.  When we whisper, “Okay, I’ll trust you,” and cross a line into a new ministry area that we wouldn’t have thought about before.   Laying in His hammock in the unknown, swaying in the comfort of trusting in the only One who is trustworthy.

I left on an Ohio morning when it was -6 degrees.  Just a few hundred miles down south it was warm and breezy.  But the body of Christ is everywhere.  He carries us everywhere.  When I got here I realized I forgot my glasses.  This enables me to read the screen or see sights from far away.  It’s okay though, because all around me is Him, His body, His people.  His path, His protection, His stretching, His vision.  When we risk to connect with each other in united vision, even though we may not see the immediate results, it doesn’t matter because all I need to see is Him.  We take the risk because He is worthy of our trust.