upon arriving in rome, we were told that the main auditorium would not be available for us to use. instead, we were to use a smaller room down below the main room. this was not what was previously arranged, but we humbly said ok we can do that.
upon seeing the lighting rig that was being brought in the pastor told us that he was going to invite his board/elders to the first night and if we did anything "inappropriate" we would not be able to continue our conference at his facility. we heard the word "disco-tech" peppered throughout the conversation (in italian). we said ok we will not go overboard.
we were told that we could not play any music that would prompt people to want to dance before the service and after. we said ok we will not play that music.
we were told that our original plan to set up on tuesday night was not possible because they had a service in our meeting room (which they failed to inform us) and that we could not set up until the day of the conference, which gave us very little time. thankfully we were experienced in flexibility and moments of little to no time for set-up. we said ok we can do that.
the night of the conference opening, the church had a service in their main auditorium and they started at 7:30pm. we were told we could not start until they were done and we had to be finished by 10pm. we knew this was next to impossible but our response did not echo our frustration and instead we honored his request.
much of what we were brought in to the conference to do was now almost completely diminished. we felt handcuffed in doing anything with a "spirit of excellence." but we knew that we wanted and needed to respect the pastor and his authority.
with the tension of the elders and the board all there the opening night what better way to show our frustration then to publicly from the microphone request all the students to show their support for the pastor by thanking him with applause for allowing us to be there and use his 50 million euro facility. we brought them up before the service started and honored him in front of everyone in attendance. the worship began, the praise resounded, the prayers were loud, and the hearts of 150 young men and women gave a beautiful illustration of the next generations hunger for the living god. so what were we going to hear the next morning from the pastor...
a humbling apology for his attitude towards the whole project. he genuinely felt terrible and apologized not once, not twice, but many times over the course of the next few days. he even told his staff to stop bothering him with every little thing they thought inappropriate and gave us full permission to do "whatever we wanted" throughout the remainder of the conference. in fact, after the first night he and his elders were taking pictures and asking for the contact information for the lighting company that rented us the gear. i had asked the guys who brought the equipment if they had ever rented this stuff to a church and they said "no." consequently, now, there is a connection with them that i know will re-shape a perspective of how church can be done on both fronts. it blows my mind what humility can accomplish. completely opposite to what the flesh says should be done about meeting opposition. i am still on this wonderful high of god's amazing good news which is all about humility.
philippians 2:3-5 says this...
do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also the interests of others. have this attitude in yourselves which was also in christ jesus...