WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LIVING CLASSROOM
In October AMiA sponsored Living Classroom, a three-day teaching event to equip clergy and lay leaders for the front lines. Living Classroom offered workshops and classes to give participants tools to address questions like “What are other churches doing to grow and flourish?” “How do we set a new course for our church?” “How do we identify and develop leaders in our church?” and “What does it look like to be a disciple-growing church?”
We’ve asked several participants to share with us what they taught or what they learned at Living Classroom. Below is the one such summary.
Living Classroom: Refreshment and Transformation
By Jake Aschbacher
For me, conferences have typically been events where I get to use the event itself as an excuse to “get away” and hang out with good folks. Rarely have I viewed the actual content as the main draw. This past October the AMiA Living Classroom event at All Saints in Dallas, Texas was a pleasant departure from the normal. But let me backtrack a bit. I’ve got some primer coat to lay down before I get to the meat of the final paint job.
Being in my first year of full-time church ministry has been harder than I’d expected. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, the work of full-time ministry is taxing and trying in ways that I never expected. So, heading to Dallas for another ministry-related event wasn’t something that I was necessarily “amped” for. In my mind’s eye I was picturing fluorescent lights and conversations about how churches should be run and maybe a conversation or two about how to create new church-wide programs. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumptions.
The Living Classroom event was an incredibly refreshing and transformative time in my journey. Three main facets contributed to the joy, peace and freedom I experienced while in Dallas. The first was the very real spiritual work that we entered into and took part in throughout the week. On Sunday evening, as we entered the sanctuary at All Saints Dallas, I could sense that the Lord was going to move in me. Through worship, prayer and the reading of God’s Word, a table of spiritual offering was opened and set, setting the tone for the remainder of our time there. I felt so freed by this beginning work. It opened my heart, mind and spirit to what God was going to do in the days to come.
Secondly, the “classroom” portion was a joyful experience. It was filled with biblical wisdom, spiritual joy and a sense that the lessons coming from the teachers were rooted deeply in personal experience and God-ordained insight. I was so blessed by the various topics and styles of teaching that the various pastors brought. Also, knowing that these people came from all over the nation gave me a great sense of sibling connection to the Kingdom family that God has created within AMiA. I left with deep things to ponder and questions that have already produced fruit in my ministry and life.
Lastly, the men and women that I got to spend time with were so good. That may seem like a simple way to put it, but that’s just what it was: good. It was good because the good God that we serve and love blessed the community of believers present with joy and peace. The presence of Christ in the people around me was tangible and real and made me feel like, no matter who I was sitting next to, a real, deep, fruitful conversation was just around the corner. I’m a people person and I love getting to ask intentional questions and having the opportunity to dig deep with folks. My time at Living Classroom revealed to me that the people around me are willing to do just the same thing for me. Having peaceful, safe time to experience that was the fresh, cool cup of water that my heart and soul needed.
In closing I would like to thank everyone at All Saints Dallas and those within the AMiA who helped put on this event and who made the experience fun and incredibly enjoyable. Sometimes, as ministers, missionaries and pastors, we can feel a bit isolated and separated from those who we care for and minister to. Events like this with people like these are the moments when we are reminded of how big the family of God really is. Through them we remember how His blessing and love can be poured out like new wine by His children. If you are needing a recommendation to attend the next AMiA event, let this message encourage you to make it a point to buy the plane ticket. It’s worth the effort and time.
Jake Aschbacher is Associate Pastor and Resident at The Gathering Midtown in San Antonio, Texas. Jake’s primary ministry interests are men’s hearts and their growth in Christ, discipleship in the person of Christ and the production of healthy, sustainable church systems that breed health and not anxiety. Jake loves to write, fly-fish and wrestle with his kiddos on the living room floor. He is a resident of San Antonio, with his wife, Sydney, and their two daughters.