Ministry can be a lonely experience. There are days, weeks and even months that can fly by when you feel like no one understands (or dare I even say, cares) what you are living through.
This weekend Ron and Teddi Sylvia, Church @ the Springs and their staff proved that we don’t stand alone during this journey. In June, Tim received an email invite to a Barnabas Experience Weekend. We discussed it and decided pretty quickly that this was something we wanted to be involved in.
We arrived in Ocala, Florida on Friday night and were met by our host family and unpacked for the beginning of this weekend. On the trip down we discussed what we thought would happen during this weekend experience. Even though I am a natural extrovert, I told Tim that I didn’t want to have to share/discuss much this weekend. This past year has been difficult and there are lots of emotions that ride close to the surface and sharing those emotions, fears and doubts are hard.
We met together Friday night at Ron and Teddi’s house with twelve couples and staff from Church @ the Springs. We ate and visited with other couples and began to unpack what this weekend would look like and what we would experience.
Saturday morning we got up and met together. Ron started that day by sharing his vision and purpose behind hosting this event. It became clear that he has poured his heart into this event. He shared that there were over 160 applicants for this weekend experience from around the world. As we sat around the table with 11 other couples, my first thought was “Why us?” My second thought was how honored we were to be invited to this weekend. As we went around the table and shared it was apparent that while our stories were all different, the one thing that each couple brought to this weekend was the need for encouragement. We were all in different aspects of ministry. Our churches were at different growth levels. We had been in ministry for different lengths of time and we represented different age demographics. Everyone sitting at the table had faced some type of struggle; personal, ministerial, or spiritual (and some of us had faced all three).
We sat that morning and began to see Ron’s heart and we began to share our hearts. There were hearts that were broken and bruised and tears began to flow as God began to minister in our lives. As our stories came out it was apparent that we had shared stories in many ways. We had all struggled with issues that whether they were related to our ministries or not affected our ministries. As you looked around and the room it was filled with broken people who had a heart for God and the work that He is doing.
As we continued through the weekend it wasn’t about what we were learning (although we did learn a lot), it was about realizing that we don’t stand alone in our lives or our ministry. There are people who care about what we are doing and maybe most importantly “how” we are doing. I heard people speak into our life in a way that will continue to positively impact our ministry for years to come. I walked away knowing that God is moving and that we are privileged to be apart of that movement.
If you want to see a small part of what we got to experience this weekend check out www.thesprings.org, if you are a church planter and on twitter follow Ron Sylvia, if you are given the opportunity to attend a Barnabas Experience, book your flight, get a baby sitter, make all the necessary arrangements because it will change you. I know that we will never be the same. We will never again be alone on this journey.