Reflections from a Week in Malibu
For years, the Pepperdine Bible Lectures have been one of the spiritual highlights of my year. This year was no different. Jerry Rushford did his typically wonderful job putting together the program. The weather was perfect, and the singing in the Fieldhouse seemed more vibrant this year—particularly when Ken Young was leading worship.
- Ken Young and Jeff Nelson are the Godfathers of contemporary praise in Churches of Christ. All worship ministries and leaders stand on their shoulders. I can remember hearing Hallal when Ken's children were babies/toddlers. Now, they are college graduates. For all those years, he's been helping broaden our perspectives on worship and providing the church with new music to sing. God bless him.
- Every year there are a couple of themes that emerge at Pepperdine. One this year was clearly the role of women in the church. It popped up in keynotes, Twitter, and in many of the prominent classes. Another was the intersection of evangelism and social justice…or what you might call sociovangelism.
- Emily and I went for one final dinner at Beau Rivage before it turns into a Mexican restaurant in a couple of weeks. It was our favorite date-night spot when we were students at Pepperdine. I saw the owner eating dinner in the corner and went over and thanked him for opening and operating the restaurant. I told him I'd been eating there for 15 years. He said nodded excitedly and said gratefully, "Thank you for your patronage." Restaurants are where some of the best relational work happens during the week in Malibu. That night with Emily was special. We'll have to find a new date spot…going to the same place under a new name and management will be weird. Yes, I officially sound like a bad church member.
- Among many fine keynotes, I thought Jonathan Storment's sermon was the finest of the week. It had humor, depth, and delivery. Well done, Mr. Storment, and congratulations on your new ministry at Highland in Abilene. May you both be blessed.
- Tweets on #pbl were priceless…especially those by the fake Restoration heroes (Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, Raccoon John Smith, and James Harding). They kept me laughing all week. No one knows who they are…but God bless 'em. Thanks for the laughs.
- It was good to see Bill Banowsky roaming the Malibu campus again. I can't imagine the memories he has there. I bought three copies of The Malibu Miracle that I had him sign. He wrote wonderful personal messages to Emily and I on the inside of our books. I also had him sign one with just his name that I'll keep in storage to donate some day. I'm going to start reading it this evening.
- I was blessed to be present for the dedication of Jerry Rushford's new Center for Restoration studies in the Payson Library. The dedication was a simple but marvelous experience, and the Center itself will be a treasure to be opened and observed whenever I get to the campus. It's full of old pictures, publications, congregational histories, and more. You need to go see it. Jerry believes in it strongly enough he believe that Center and not the Bible Lectures will be his legacy 100 years from now.
- I got a copy of the ACU Summit booklet right out of the hand of Brady Bryce. He's put together a really strong lineup this year. If you can make it…put it on your calendar. In addition to a formidable CofC lineup, he's got Shaine Claiborne, Kathleen Norris, and some others on their way. It'll be great.
- My takeaway from teaching my class was that my claim that leadership dysfunction is the #1 problem facing churches of Christ may in fact be an understatement. The stories that came out of that class were simply astounding. There were other things hindering the health and growth of churches represented in my class (practical ministry strategy, etc.) and I look forward to working with some of those churches in the future as a conversation partner. I also pray that God will honor the sacrifice of time and energy those who attended offered with peace and positive Kingdom movement in their local churches.
- One of the highlights for me this year was getting to spend some quality time with friends, including some of those from Highland Oaks – Jon Mullican, Becky Burroughs, and Pat Bills (my successor at Highland Oaks)—who I was blessed to spend some quality time with for the first time. I also really enjoyed my time with Wes Woodell…who I had only know as "West Coast Witness" through the blogosphere. What an exciting and interesting ministry God is doing in the Bay Area!
I have some "tweaks" I'll suggest to Jerry Rushford in a personal letter…but once again, the Pepperdine Lectures were well organized, generally well-executed, spiritually substantive, and a real ministry to those who attended. In some ways, Jerry Rushford is a pastor of a church of 4,000 that meets for four days once a year. And, he is a good one. Well, done, Jerry and Lectureship team.
I'd love to hear your takeaways and highlights from Pepperdine if you were there. Drop a comment.