Reflecting on NOLA – P2 – Desperation Conference

Prior to arriving to New Olreans, we took our students to the Desperation Conference in Birmingham, Alabama.  I was surprised how normal Birmingham was since it was in … Alabama.  It was an experience filled with souther drawl and terrible driving skills.  There were good things too like Krispy Kreme.  I was disappointed though that I didn’t meet anyone named Bubba.  

Anyway, the Desperation Conference was put on by New Life Church’s  student ministry in Colorado and the host church, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham.  Evan and I felt that the conference was needed for a several reasons (and I think more became apparent while we were there).  One, was to help be prepared spiritually for the mission trip.  No matter how much you stress throughout the year, it always seems that more could have been done.  Second reason was that decent conferences generally don’t come to the Northeast.  (No offense to Battle Cry-Acquire the Fire but I think you need to tone it down and until you do, we won’t be participating).  Thirdly, to see something different.  There’s a lot to say about that but not saying it works too.

One of the themes that the speakers and worship leaders had repeated was the difficulty they’ve experienced this year.  The references to Ted Haggard and the tragic shootings at New Life have got me thinking about a couple things.

It seems that one of the points they made as a leadership was not to slow down the ministry.  This would have been a good year to say, given our situation maybe we should suspend some of our ministries or go into a “safe mode”. This has personal significance to me personally.

This also has significance to me as one of the pastors at our church.  Being without a sr. pastor for the past year (but our new sr. pastor is coming at the end of Aug. Praise God for sending us a great man.  I’m excited, grateful and eager).  In the absence of a sr. pastor, I know sometimes we as a leadership felt that we should wait until the new sr. pastor arrives.  Mostly it was to not intrude on the coming sr. pastor’s vision and possible ideas.  There were other times, when we could have just said, “let’s wait” but didn’t because leadership was needed at that moment.

My point –  rare is the time right to do something difficult, enormous, and controversial.  Certainly all that a church seeks to do must be grounded in where we feel the Spirit leading us after prayer, Scripture, communal discussion, and many other factors.  But the timing is hardly ever ideal and I find myself thinking about that today.

Post-NOLA Trip thoughts 1 – Why New Orleans?

We’ve just returned from our trip to New Orleans and the Desperation Student Conference.  Really grateful for so many aspects of this trip.  Here is some of how and why we got there (and here).

I thought twice about planning a mission trip to New Orleans.  In fact, I thought twice about having another student mission trip. Though they have their flaws, I really do see the value of these trips and believe them to be worth having.  Will probably share more about that as time goes on.


One of my hopes in our student ministry is to have a Christ and others-centered, mission approach where we go and serve local and further out domestically and internationally.  This past year, among the best things we’ve done was skipping our traditional fall retreat. Instead, we went out and did local mission projects in Paterson, NJ, Harlem and Queens, NY.  Frankly, we need to find ways to do more of these types of things as a student ministry and as families and believers.  We’re taking steps.

Anyway, it’s a long story but New Orleans became the place.  I couldn’t really avoid it, these opportunities kept coming up, the need is great, turn on tv and from PBS to even the Edge having a charity devoted to saving the music, it was everywhere so it got my attention.

As I was praying about it, the idea of not going because it was too cliché seemed more superficial and compelled by the need of New Orleans (and much of the Gulf region), I found myself planning a mission trip. Time went on and I got excited about the opportunity. In college, I connected with classic jazz and some friends turned me to Harry Connick Jr. – a son of New Orleans. Dealing with the aftermath of Katrina, the rebuilding, the non-rebuilding, the corruption, the hurt, the politics, the culture of New Orleans, Cajun, its symbolic presence in the South, and then there was us. I am not handy. Most of my students aren’t either. This was going to be tough – for all of us. As you could see, things were falling into place in terms of a mission trip. I was getting excited to do something that we weren’t that good at. Something that would make us uncomfortable as that would force us to keep focused. As many know, it’s when we are uncomfortable and not in control that we hear God’s voice. I doubt it’s because He is speaking any louder but more that we are listening so much more intently. Next thing I knew, friend, fellow seminarian and blogger, Evan was bringing some students as well. God truly seemed in the midst of this. For if it was me, we’d be in Vegas. Hmmm, that’s a great idea for next year.