A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead
For years, almost ten now, I gather with my college friends every summer for a week of fellowship in what we call ‘Fandango.’ This getaway with some of the best friends a person could have has clearly become a non-negotiable for my heart. For me, it’s a time of decompression – an ascent from the depths of life which can burden, overwhelm, or even burn one out. While we have gone different places and engaged in different activities, the key ingredient has always been the men who attend it. These relationships have been forged for more than twenty years. In other words, we possess shared stories in which each of us have played integral characters in the plot lines of the others’ lives. Add this to the fact that we share the same values, aims, and passions in life leads me to believe I’ll continue to attend Fandango as long as I live.
This week I attended a different kind of Fandango and, as you can tell, I don’t use the term lightly. Yet, over the last few days after spending time with the men and women who make up the Acts 29 Network it was one of the first words that popped into my head. Frankly, I don’t know of another time in my life outside of my annual trip with my college buddies where I feel more connected, more rejuvenated, or more thankful for God’s grace evidenced in the relationships he has given me. From the moment I stepped foot in the retreat hotel I was energized seeing the “old” faces of men I’ve prayed for, preached at their churches, swapped ministry “war stories” with, or counseled (or been counseled by) on the phone. I also saw many new faces and heard stories of grace as these dedicated men and their devoted wives went about the Kingdom-work of planting churches around not only the nation but the world. From a breakfast table early in the morning to sitting around a fire-pit late into the night, I was blessed by story upon story of what God was doing in and around them. It was life-giving, heart-growing, almost overwhelming in its goodness to me.
On the last night after a wonderful time of worship through teaching, song, and fellowship, I turned to a one of my closest friends, who also happened to be an original college Fandango member, and with great joy said, “Man, this is my ministry Fandango!” He concurred without hesitation. We both had seen it before: being blessed by a community – a set of relationships – that uniquely shared the same values, aims, and passions. The difference was these relationships were/are/will be forged in the crux of leading the church to plant churches that plant churches. Still, like spending time each summer with my college brothers, I leave the Acts 29 Pastors’ Retreat a much better man than before I arrived – blessed by God, refreshed in grace, and grateful for friends both new and old.
So I guess what this means is that at least when it comes to the summer, I will have two kinds of Fandango to attend…and be very thankful for them both.