By Jennifer Schroeder
When I first started in the world of ministry many years ago, one of the pieces of advice I received most often was to communicate, communicate, communicate. And then, if I felt like I had done a good job of communicating, I should do it some more. In other words, it would be impossible for me to over-communicate.
No truer words were ever spoken, and it was instruction that served me well throughout my time in congregational ministry.
That piece of advice came full circle recently as I was visiting with a friend at church about the upcoming fall edition of Summit. As we were discussing the opportunities for enrichment and community building planned at Summit, she asked if Summit was something she might want to attend even though she did not work in ministry. In that unassuming question, I realized that I needed to revisit the old adage of “communicate, communicate, communicate” in order to ensure that she had an answer to her question.
So, I am here to tell you what I told her: “Yes, Summit is most definitely for you. Summit is for everyone!” Summit is for the paid minister on staff, the volunteer who is invested in the life of their church, the congregational leader who seeks to shepherd their church family, and the person who simply wants to examine Scripture in greater depth. Summit truly is for everyone.
And I believe this all-inviting intention for Summit is also expressed in the theme for this fall: Abide with Me. Throughout Scripture, we are called to “abide with God” and to find our identity and purpose in the Lord God who created us. This holds true for us not just as individuals but as a community—as a church.
1 Peter 2:9 states, “You, however, are a ‘chosen people, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart’ to sing the praises of the One who called you out of the darkness into the wonderful, divine light.”
As we consider what it means to “abide with me,” we bear witness to the relational aspect of God embedded in this call. As we prepare for Summit, we experience the same desire for relationship mirrored in 1 Peter 2:9. That text announces us as children of God now and forever. There is a tremendous comfort and solace in this knowledge.
This is just one of the ideas that the general interest community will examine this fall at Summit, and in doing so, will seek out a greater understanding of what it means to be the church who is committed to walking in obedience with God, to growing more like Christ, to declaring the virtue of the Lord, in an effort to not just know about God but really know God with intimate closeness.
And while the general interest community will spend their time exploring the text of 1 Peter, each of the other ministry communities will also imagine what it means to know and abide with God through their unique ministry contexts.
In the children’s ministry community, one of the topics of conversation will be the spiritual formation of children—in other words, how children come to know God. The Hispanic ministry community will examine the biblical text through the lens of Latino perspectives and focus on the impact those cultural lenses have on the Word. Our preaching community will address the challenges of ministry amidst this unique season and will also spend some time in conversation with Andrew Root, noted author and theologian. Our recovery ministry community is new to Summit this year. However, it has two seasoned leaders who will focus on understanding ways of walking alongside those who have experienced addiction in order to find freedom and healing in the arms of Christ. In small-church ministry, the community will examine the beauty that is found in smaller churches and the banding together of those bodies to serve the kingdom. And the youth ministry community will seek to connect with Christ in a way that fosters healthy ministry practices. Each community, in its own way, will explore what it means for us to abide with God.
We will also have the opportunity to come together as a community of believers and hear Andrew Root, who has most recently written Churches and the Crisis of Decline: A Hopeful, Practical Ecclesiology for a Secular Age, as he challenges us to be the church that trusts in the faithfulness of God. This will be part of a larger gathering on Thursday evening called Anchor Point, where we will share a meal together as well as enjoy a time of fellowship and worship.
And so, whether you are attending Summit to experience renewal and build relationships in a specific area of ministry, or to spend time examining the Word, our hope and prayer is that Summit will provide for you a place to more deeply know God, a place where you are able to lean into God as God says, “Abide with me.”
Please join us Oct. 13-14 on the ACU campus for Summit: Abide with Me. To learn more, visit acu.edu/summit.