This last weekend was great on many different levels! It was one of those weekends that I have been excited about for a few months, but I had also been pretty stressed about as well. I did not do a really good job in planning for the weekend of October 14-16, as I had three different conferences and retreats overlapping with one another. But with the weekend behind me, and Monday upon me, I am looking back with great fondness with what took place.

Let me begin by saying thank you to Matthew Anderson who pretty much organized the whole weekend. He did a wonderful job of making sure things ran smoothly, and I appreciated his interest and personal attention to those around him. He could have easily been overwhelmed with everything this last weekend that he might not have wanted to take much time with people, but I appreciated the fact that when you were with him, you knew that he was interested in getting to know you, and in what you had to say. A great quality for anyone to have, especially for bloggers who spend a lot of time in impersonal modes of communication through technology. And I too related to Matt as well, in that we are both newlyweds and were also looking forward to getting back home to our wives after the weekend. Thanks Matt for all you did. Please visit his blog, as I know you will be hearing more from him in the future.

The conference also provided just a great opportunity for me to put some names to some faces, and to interact with those that I admire online. I very much enjoyed having some coffee Saturday morning, and interacting with Smart Christian who I continually go to for a diversity of thoughts and insights on his blog. It was fun to meet DJ Chuang who I think has some of the most amazing content, and who continually is on the cutting edge technologically. I also enjoyed conversation with Josh from In The Agora, who also did a wonderful presentation on Christian blogging and politics. Thanks Josh. You inspired me to think through some things that I don’t typically blog about.

Last, I just want to thank Hugh Hewitt for taking the time to encourage me in many ways. Not only in blogging, but in pursuing some of my other interests. Everyone pretty much wants to talk to Hugh, or to get some advice, or to pass something off to him, like a book, or script, etc., but when you are with him, you feel as if you are the most important person at that moment, and that he is not being distracted by everything else. Thanks for the encouragement Hugh.

This weekend was very affirming in many ways, and for me it was insightful to see what is coming to fruition. There is a purpose behind blogging, and it is nice to be together in community with those people who are seriously thinking through the impact and direction that blogging is going to head in the 21st Century.

It was also nice for the media to notice what is going on as well:



After leaving GodBlogCon on Saturday afternoon, after presenting in my workshop, I headed straight to Big Bear, to be with my college students at our Fall retreat. I absolutely love working with college students, and espcially the ones that I am blessed to have in our ministry The Quest. One of the great things about working with college students is that the love to be empowered, and they love to take charge and serve. And because of that, I was able to send up our servant team and Bible study leaders, along with two interns, and they put on an amazing retreat. I showed up on Saturday afternoon, and I preached on Saturday night, and Sunday morning.

Our theme for the weekend was How to Live Missionally in Your Communities, and we used John 15 as our text. I won’t get into much detail here, but my intern Lyndsey Waters preached on John 15:1-11 on Saturday morning, looking at what it means to abide in Christ. I preached on John 15:12-17 on Saturday night, and what it means to not only in abide in Christ, but then to move outward, and to love one another. And then we finished up on Sunday morning, where I preached on John 15:18-27, and what it means to testify to those around us, the works of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

I think the students really enjoyed their small group times after each talk, but one thing I believe was most transforming for all of us this weekend. After finishing up our text on Saturday night, I closed by talking about what it means to serve one another and to lay down our lives for one another, taking a look at how Jesus visually demonstrated it through the washing of the disciples feet in Chapter 13. As I was finishing up my talk, my intern began to bring chairs up front, followed by water buckets and towels. You should have seen the sheer confusion and anxiety in the faces of our group as this was taking place. But their reaction I believe, simply mirrored the reactions that the disciples had when Jesus begun to do the same thing. Washing feet catches one off guard.

Lyndsey and I asked that our servant team and Bible study leaders come forward first so that we could wash their feet, and in turn they could begin to wash the feet of everyone else in the group. This was not a mandatory demonstration, but it was simply amazing to watch the students serve one another, and then to be served. It seems that we have a harder time sometimes along others to serve us, rather than we do serving each other. This was one of the many comments from our students during our reflection time on Sunday morning, and great insight I believe into what the disciples were struggling with, such as Peter, when Jesus began to wash their feet.

I will not go into more detail, then to simply way, that I believe that act of service to one another, is a huge breakthrough in the barriers that we often erect in our faith. We know a lot about God, but we often don’t know God. And when we begin to serve others, I believe those barriers begin to come down, and we begin to gain a more intimate knowledge of God, rather than simply knowing about Him.

Thank you students for allowing all of us to be a part of a truly transforming weekend. One in which cannot be planned by us, but is simply an outward demonstration of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

So all in all, it was a great weekend. I was encouraged by those in two very different and distinct communities. One community which I mostly know via the web and technology. And another community that I know very intimately, as we have walked through life together in the college ministry. God allows us the privilege and grace to be a part of many different communities and I am excited to see the many ways in which different communities use and express the gifts that God has given them.

Now I’m ready to take this blogging thing up another notch…….

Rhett Smith