A big Friday morning shout out to Ambush, Hoedown, Pickle Me Alamo, Make-A-Wish, Cubinator, Jeremy, the Chief, Night Light, and the whole crew at Gull Lake for making this such an enjoyable week. This was my fourth time to speak there–twice as part of Moody week and twice as the main speaker. Besides being a stunningly beautiful setting, and besides the excellent food plus the fantastic weather and the resort atmosphere, I noticed something new and very encouraging this year. There were children and teenagers and young families everywhere. This is a huge change from my first visit.
When the Board of Directors hired Daniel Wallace as Executive Director several years ago, they bought into his vision of making Gull Lake a family-friendly destination. That meant moving away from many of the traditional Bible conference traditions, a decision that was not universally popular. But there is a time and season for everything. The methods that worked in the 50s don’t necessarily work in the 21st century. Daniel told them it wouldn’t be easy to make the change, and he was right. Gull Lake has decided to focus on reaching young families with children. That’s a courageous and (in my judgment) wise decision. Too many conference centers try to be all things to all people all the time, which generally ends up pleasing no one. Gull Lake has “gone young” and you could see it everywhere this week. I believe we had more children and teens than adults. They told me that every week this summer it’s been at least 50/50. This week I would guess it was 55% youth and 45% adults.
Many churches in America are in turmoil because they have reached a generational breakpoint. As one generation passes off the scene, another rises to take its place. We don’t have to choose, however. We need the wisdom of the older generation–their commitment, their understanding of tradition, their experience, their knowledge, their resources, their stories of how God helped them through difficult times, and we need the passion of the younger generation–their zeal, their buoyant faith, their willingness to take risks, their fearlessness, their desire to try new things, and their confidence that they can change the world.
This week we had lots of young people plus we had plenty of older saints, including several multi-generational families. All in all, I think Gull Lake has chosen a wise course and the results are obvious.
Special thanks also to Tom and Carol Klobucher who own a home near the conference center. They welcomed me for lunch on Sunday and then again for dessert on Sunday night. It was also a treat to see their daughter Lisa, her husband Mark, and their children Kate, Jenna and Seth.
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