The conference takes place largely in two venues, so no one can catch everything. But these are the highlights of my day at the conference:
- Bill Kinnamon shared some of the research from his book UnChristian, sharing eye-opening facts about how Christianity and Christians are viewed by unbelievers, and we discussed how this needs to inform our dialogue with the culture we live in. An important point made is that we are not polling the unsaved to try and form a religion that will attract them; but we need to be aware both of the misconceptions people have, and the true indictments that have been made against the church.
- Then it was my turn; I did a 10-minute mini-concert between speakers. Armed with only a keyboard and a microphone, I brought down the house. People were running in from the lobby to see what was happening. Actually, half the audience left to get coffee. But it was still fun.
- Jim Henderson, co-author of Jim and Casper Go to Church, taught a workshop called “Free Jesus”, about how Jesus never intended to begin another religion called “Christianity”, and what it might be like to extract Him from the religious filters we have created, through which we present Him to the world. Very insightful.
- I caught Sally Morganthaler’s session, “The Subtraction Factor”. She shared a display of nature photos she has taken, looking for Jesus outside the walls of the church (The Wild One particularly related to this). We discussed alternate ways of looking at “church” and “worship” and how they might be expressed. Mind-bending. 🙂
EVENING SESSION–WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING WHILE I’VE BEEN BLOGGING TONIGHT
- “The Outsiders Interview”–a live discussion with several young people including a professing gay Christian about the church’s approach to homosexuality. An opportunity for these people to express honest opinions on the topic.
- Matt Casper (aka “Casper the Friendly Athiest”) stopped in to chat with Jim onstage before their joint session tomorrow.
- Currently, we are in a Q&A with several of the conference speakers to discuss key points of the evening. A memorable moment happened mere moments ago, when Jim Henderson reemphasized a running theme of the day–that the practice of our faith has been belief-based more than love-based or works-based. One reason he entertains discussions called “The Outsider Interviews” is because whenever the main issue becomes belief, there will be insiders and outsiders, and we will always be faced with the dilemma of who is “in” or “out”, based on where they stand on the belief. The challenge is not that we change our beliefs on the issues, but rather our focus and our approach. Something I’m still chewing on…