Donny's Ramblings


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Residency: Notes from Class

I’m clueless and I had no clue just how clueless I was until I showed up here in Louisville to listen to those who do have a clue talk about… their clues. I can’t even begin to describe to you how my cluelessness has been reinforced in my mind in the last 3 days as I’ve listened to some really great speakers giving lectures on really great things.

Today as I was sitting in class I put down pen and paper and fired up my trusty MacBook Pro. I can type much faster than I can write. Another benefit of taking notes on my computer is that later I’ll actually be able to read what I’ve written. For each lecture, I took notes in a program called Journler. I chose to use it instead of Word because I like the layout a bit better for note taking, and I can have multiple tabs opened. I had a tab open for notes on every lecture, and in a separate tab I took notes that I’ve titled Random Thoughts: Londen Institute Residency. The Random Thoughts tab is just that: random thoughts of things I want to remember so that I can write about them later for you, my constant readers.

Here are my Random Thoughts for today:

  • Today any doubts I may have had about the Londen Institute are completely gone. This is a great program. The speakers are actively involved, highly educated, and highly successful. They bring in relevant, current information to prepare church leaders.
  • Many of those in attendance are already working in churches. Some of them are Pastors, even lead Pastors. Others are church Elders. Still others work in young adult or children’s ministries. This school seems to focus on practical, applicable information.
  • When Todd Wilson mentioned that many of the older, (almost) dying churches are coming to his group asking if they can be satellites of new churches I was intrigued. That’s a really good idea, in my opinion. It kind of reminds me of what LifeChurch.tv is doing.
  • Greg Malcom, a fellow classmate and Elder in his church, took the time to explain to me know that many modern churches fall right in the middle of being conservative or liberal, and take a more realistic viewpoint… they are more “with the times”. Those types of churches are really the ones that are growing today. Lots of independent churches fall into this category.
  • 18,000 people supporting a multi million dollar site like Southeast blows my mind.
  • Remember last night’s message about taking a risk. Particularly the “creating a story” story. That was a really good illustration. Be sure to tell W. about that one.
  • Note to self: buy Out of the Saltshaker by Becky Pippert (Becky is one of those who lectured today – the rest of my bulleted notes are things I wrote down while she was lecturing).
  • Jesus was so upset with religious hypocrisy that he threw furniture down the stairs. He isn’t the type of guy who would walk away from someone struggling with a sex disorder, rage, screwed up lives, etc.
  • The “religious” hated him, but prostitutes and lepers were crazy about him! The chief complaint about Jesus was that he was NOT religious enough! The world needs to know what he’s like! Pick out Bible passages that show these parts, and read them with “seeker” friends.
  • Be real. Develop a style of witnessing consistent with your personality. “I want to talk to you about the Bible, but I’m afraid of how you’ll react”. You don’t have to be someone else for God to use you.

I’m not up to date on the “who’s who” of modern Christian culture, but I’ve been told I should be impressed by our list of speakers. I think going into this seminar with no prior knowledge of the accomplishments of our speakers has made me better able to “judge” their lectures based on content, rather than on the reputation of the lecturer. So far I’ve been really impressed! I’ll list some of the speakers: if you know them feel free to “ooo” and “ahhh”. If you’re like me and you have no clue who they are, just know that these people have really accomplished big things for God with their lives:

  • Dr. Ken Blanchard
  • Mike Emmert
  • Allie Harding
  • Pastor Buddy Howard
  • Pastor Ben Merold
  • Pastor Greg Nettle
  • Dr. Bob Pavelsky
  • Becky Pippert
  • Dr. Bob Russell
  • Pastor Dave Stone
  • Todd Wilson

One thing I really like about the Londen Institute is that they’re bringing people into these Residencies who are currently working very hard for God. These people bring relevant insights into what’s going on in their world as leaders of today’s churches. Practical advice is given. Practical knowledge is applied in small group settings, which allows a lot of interaction with the lecturers. There are 3 Residency events per year.

Once I return home I’ll have a series of back-to-back course assignments to complete, each of which last a minimum of 15 weeks and include a lot of reading and a lot of writing. It’s been awhile since I’ve been a college student but I’m looking forward to all of it.

I’ve never seen a church as large as the one hosting this Residency. Here are some stats for Southeast Christian Church:

  • 770,000 square foot main building
  • There are two other buildings (youth center and administration building) of 150,000 and 115,000 square feet
  • 18,000 members (1,500 nursery aged children alone)
  • The sanctuary seats 9,100
  • It cost $80 million for the land and the main building, took more than 3 years to build, and sits on 117 acres
  • It took more than an hour for us to take the tour
  • It has the 2nd largest kitchen in Kentucky (refrigerator is more than 40 feet wide) – 2 coffee machines turn out 10,000 cups of coffee an hour
  • More than 300 staff members
  • It was started in a basement with a handful of people

A few photos are in order (if you’d like to see several more click here – there’s a great coffee shop, children’s area, etc). This is the lobby… to put this photo into perspective let me tell you that the spot where I’m standing to those escalators on the other side is the length of a football field:

Southeast Christian Center

This sanctuary seats 9,100 people:

Southeast Christian Main Sanctuary

Click here for more photos

Days start at 7:30 am and go until around 9:30 pm. I’m pretty tired.

Off to bed I go, looking forward to tomorrow.