Members of our staff and leadership team arrived in Orlando late on Monday night after a day of planes and automobiles. It’s been two years since my first Exponential Conference experience, and already, the difference is significant.

At my first experience, I was by myself, and I’d come off a particularly trying year as a pastor and church planter in Arkansas. This year, I’m with new leaders at a new church, and we’re here after a particularly blessed several months of God’s gracious favor in the life of our church and families.

It’s much better to learn in community, and I’m grateful for Cody, Dave, and Jim being here with me. It’s going to be fun to unpack what we’ve learned each evening and on the way home.

I’ll try to post daily about some reflections from the conference, as I did back in 2008, but I assure you that I’ll be kinder to Ed Stetzer. I’ll never forget the call I got from Carolyn after my first conference entry back then. I had attended the first plenary session that day, and Ed was the keynote speaker. I was there as a wounded church planter that had financed his trip on fumes. I just needed a life preserver.

Ed instead threw stats. They were great ones, and they were convicting to us all about the state of the church and our need to adopt a missional strategy and lifestyle, but his talk just left me discouraged. Actually, it was a great talk, but in my frame of mind, it just didn’t connect.

Carolyn called and said, “One of your ‘friends’ is messing with you. They left a comment on your entry claiming to be Ed Stetzer.” I laughed and went to my blog to check the commenter’s email. It was Ed’s.

Bummer. In my blunt hurtness, I had unintentionally wounded someone else. Or so I thought. In the comment exchange (and later email) that followed, I realized it would take much more than that to hurt Ed’s feelings, thank goodness.

Strange thing, Ed and I wound up going to Poland together later that year as part of a church planters’ discovery trip with the IMB. You can see those entries here.

One important lesson I learned out of that experience? Never blog when you’re frustrated.

If you’re at Exponential this year, I’d love to hear from you!

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