Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,

so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2)

Many of you out in the workplace are required to attend seminars, workshops, and classes on a regular basis in order to remain employed or receive promotions and salary increases.  So are those of us who are clergy. I consider mandatory Continuing Education to be a blessing. 

The world is such a huge, fascinating place and people are such complex creatures, and there is so much to see and do and experience, that I'll never know all there is to know or do all there is to do in my lifetime.  I appreciate the opportunity, the encouragement, and the mandate to continue to learn and grow as a person, as a leader, and as a follower of Christ.  After all, it has been said that, to stop learning, to stop growing, to stop changing, is to die, and I'm far from ready to do that yet.

Training events open my eyes to new possibilities.  I hear about the latest technology or thinking on a particular subject.  I hear about what people have tried both successfully and unsuccessfully.  I have the opportunity to check out new resources.  And, most of all, I have the ability to network with people who are in the same situation or have similar interests to my own.  I find that my creativity level rises in general, not just in the area targeted by the event.

As Christians, as members of a church, as leaders in a congregation, as followers of Christ, we are urged to continue growing in our knowledge and love of God and others and in the practice of our faith.  It's hard to do that in a vaccum, by ourselves, and sometimes, in the narrow confines of our church or community.  Sometimes, it helps to get the perspective of other people.  Training events are opportunities for personal and communal growth which can stimulate new ideas, give us energy, and cause us to look at our situation in a slightly different manner.  They can help us to better define our task and see how it fits in the overall scheme of things.  They can assist us to understand why some things work as they do and others don't.

Our church, Conference, and community offer a variety of training events.  I hope that many of you will prayerfully consider taking advantage of these occasions to "renew your minds and discern the will of God -- that which is good and acceptable and perfect."