I'm coming back all filled up.

Filled up spiritually.

Filled up intellectually.

Filled up relationally.

I’ve spent the last few days in Dallas, Texas, participating in Leadership Network’s Next Generation Pastors Learning Community. Leadership Network put together a group of large-church ministers under age-40 to sharpen one another, study issues facing ministers in that situation, and to receive top-flight mentoring from ministry "samurai" (my language). Needless to say, I feel extremely blessed to be a part of it. The Leadership Network mission statement articulates the purpose fo the group: "Connecting Innovators to Multiply."

I had the blessing of receiving peer-to-peer encouragement and honing of my ministry and life by 11 of the sharpest young turkey preachers in the country. Perhaps even more rewarding was receiving mentoring from the likes of Bob Buford (Leadership Network and author of Half-Time), Larry Osborne (North Coast Church), Bruce Miller (McKinney Fellowship Bible Church), Charles Anderson (University United Methodist Church-San Antonio), and John Jenkins (First Baptist Church of Glenarden)…men with huge hearts for God who have devoted a lifetime to serving Christ. They are true ministry samurai, and the 12 of us young guys were immensely blessed by their tutelage. I’m listing the names of these guys not to name-drop but because they deserve thanks for giving their scarce time to coaching youngsters in the ministry.

Churches of Christ and Christian Churches have their samurai as well, and they devote a lot of time to praying for and helping young people learn to fly in ministry. I want to thank them for investing their time that way. God will bless them for it, I’m confident. No matter how old we get, we never stop growing, and we should all avail ourselves of opportunities to learn from one another. Find a peer-to-peer, or samurai (or both) mentoring situation. It will only bless you and your church immensely. Fill up from time to time.

Below are just a few of the church websites of the guys that were in the group. Check out the creativity in these guys!