The Art of Events

Putting together the roster of speakers for an event is an art, not a science. I’ve been working with Sarah Cunningham to put together Christianity21, coming to Phoenix in January. Of course, we strive to invite speakers who have something to say and are good at saying it. But one of the things that we most desire is that the 21 leaders who grace the main stage will represent the widest swath of the church. I’m very proud of the list we’ve put together for this year. It’s surely not perfect, for I’m sure we’ve missed some constituencies. Nevertheless, I think when you look at the names in the graphic below, you’ll see various diversities represented — theological, racial, gender, demographic, geographic, denominational.

If you’ve been hoping for a leadership conference that is truly committed to reconciliation among various factions of American Christianity, I hope you’ll join us.

Click on the image to learn more.

Bye-Bye Millennials

Here, in living color, we see the church’s failure to engage an entire generation:

The graphic comes from the Public Religion Research Institute. You’ll notice that it also undermines the evangelical claim that they’re doing better with younger generations than progressive Christians. You’ll see that’s not true. In fact, the evangelical drop is more precipitous than the mainline drop — they’ve also got further to fall.

And, the survey shows, as Whites lose majority in the US, they (we?) tend to long for the good ol’ days:

[Read more...]

One of the Most Sacred Encounters I’ve Ever Had

The Reverend Joy Bennett serving me communion on August 30, 2012.

It happened on August 30, 2012, and it has been recorded beautifully by Joy Bennett at A Deeper Story:

She felt the weight of this settle on her shoulders, responding quietly to each. Then he read, “Will you accept the discipline of this Church and give due respect to those in authority?

She paused. All her previous experiences with authority figures in churches rushed to her mind. The church is fallible because it’s made up of fallible people, including herself. “I’m not sure about that one.”

He smiled, said “Me either,” and moved on to the next one.

At the conclusion of the vows, Tony asked everyone to reach out to Meg as they prayed over her. Then, he handed her the bread, Carla opened the wine, and he asked “Would you share a passage of Scripture with us tonight, before you serve communion?”

She paused a few moments, thinking. She was unprepared for this moment. But then, she thought of one. “We shared this with our children each night at bedtime, and engraved it on my eldest daughter’s headstone. It’s simple and it’s all I can think of right now…”

Read the rest a A Deeper Story.

God Has Died…And He Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Engaging great content at Christianity21. (Courtney Perry)

I’m at Christianity21 this week, a gathering produced by Doug Pagitt, Sarah Cunningham, and Your Favorite Blogger. We’re one day in, and it’s been awesome. One of the great things about this event is that there’s no theme, and there are 21 gifted speakers, so we never really know what magic will happen in the chemistry between the talks.

They don’t all agree, but they do tend to dovetail with one another. Yesterday, Jonathan Merritt led off the opening session with a challenge to follow God’s call and listen to the unlikely ways that God speaks. Paul Raushenbush went next with a call for conservatives and liberals to rediscover the social gospel. Noel Castellanos told us five things we can do to engage with people and the gospel. And Nadia Bolz-Weber told us ten things she’s learned about being a pastor and church planter.

In the next session, Kent Dobson gave an amazing reflection on the absence of God, Sarah Lefton challenged us to engage Christians in biblical literacy in the way that she has challenged Jews, Mike Foster reminded us how everyone needs to be loved, and Romal Tune told us that the church needs to compete with gangs for the youth of LA.

In between, we had a couple dozen 7-minute talks by attendees from around the country. Today more talks. And tomorrow, even more, including my call to recover apocalyptic language for the church. Check back here for updates.


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