So today was the big day - the day I would get to see Willowcreek for the first time!! Now I am sceptical about these big churches at the best of times. I am sure they have good points but most of the time I see the negatives that they would create, especially in creating community - in a world where we struggle to get community as it is. Why exaggerate that in a church situation!! Anyway, as we drove in and walked into the building, for the first half hour I was struggling to find words to express what i was feeling - I kept saying "wow!" and "this place is huge" and I struggled for more words and descriptions than that - which is weird as I don't normally struggle for words!!
However as my day went on I found my opinion changing...not that the place is not still huge, I guarentee it did not shrink when we got there but on closer inspection a few things surprised me and things that I assumed to be true simply...weren't! There is no doubt that a lot of money has been spent on some things - like the technology in the main auditorium is incredibe - data projectors everywhere, huge state of the art screens, cameras, computers, lights and loads of people operating them - but everywhere else was a much simpler and less extravagent atmosphere. Willowcreek is not lavish - the furniture and decor is plain and unassuming, the floors and carpets are unassuming nad functional and instead of having all my senses bombarded with opulence, I was hit by the understated everything that I saw - and that really made me happy!!
The conference has been good today. There have been 3 main sessions with everyone together. The first main speaker was the guy who created VeggieTales; the second was apanel with 2 experts on spiritual formation in children and I really enjoyed it; the last was a look at finding strengths in children, by a woman who was very whacky and at times seemed a few sandwiches short of a picnic - bit it was interesting all the same and good to hear people who I did not entirely agree with or love listening too. They all made me think! Tomorrow will be different with the 3 tracks that I have chosen out of about 100 options - and it will be good to hear and be trained in sme children's ministry issues that I am really interested in.
Now I am sitting in our hotel room with a glass of red wine, exhausted but satisfied that today was a good day and hopeful that tomorrow will be even better. And we made some friends today who are staying in our hotel and that is always good!!
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