Reading time: two minutes. I’m starting the year with some random wellness topics that can make a big difference. This week’s prescription for a healthy, vibrant New Year in ministry is to do your best to attend gatherings of professional church workers in your area. Whether it’s a DCE cluster in your region or district, the local pastor’s Winkel conference, the LEA Convocation or something like Best Practices in Phoenix, get yourself to a church worker’s conference at every possible opportunity. Here’s my top five (although there are many more!) reasons for professional fellowship. Comparisons with others. What’s the first (very unhealthy) question pastor’s are thinking about when they get to the conference? “So, how’s attendance?” It’s the “My church is better than your church” comparison. Very old nature. Here’s the healthy observation when gathering with other educators or pastors: “Hey look! They’re all just like me!” Every profession has it’s superstars. In the Lord’s kingdom we’re surrounded by people with amazing giftedness and big, burgeoning ministries. When you meet these folks, however, you’ll find that they are just like you. Don’t be impressed with other peoples’ ministries. Be impressed that our Lord would call people like you and like them to be stewards of the gospel! Historical theology. Those courses were the most boring in seminary. The excitement comes when you get to a conference and realize that all the stories of ministry you will hear from every corner of the church represent God’s ongoing unfolding of the history of the world and the most important news event of our generation: lives transformed by the gospel. We are living the history of God’s kingdom. Gathering with others gives a big vision of which you are a part. Koinonia. I’ve never heard one discouraging word about the Koinonia Project of synod. Whether from First Vice President Herb Mueller who directs it or anyone whose participated, the stories of the transformative nature of listening to each other with kindness and genuine curiosity have all been glowingly positive. Conferences are an opportunity to learn more than just the topic for the day. We learn about each other. We’re always enriched by that. Roller Coasters. We all go through the ups and downs of ministry. When we gather with our peers to share those stories, we create opportunities to be an encouragement to one another. We weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. That’s good. Laughter. At every conference I attend, I see people laughing and smiling and wonder how long it’s been since such a great smile broke out across some of those faces. We all need some of that. How have you been enriched by gatherings like these? Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.