Conferences of Christian entrepreneurs are full of energy. That was the first thing I learned as I sat in a chapel full of flags, music, and eager seminary students as part of the recent Asbury Project conference in Wilmore, KY. The conference, a collaborative effort between Asbury Seminary and Asbury University to explore how social entrepreneurship can advance the Kingdom, also intersected with the Seminary’s Kingdom Conference celebrating God’s work around the world–hence the choir loft brimfull of flags:
The service featured high-energy music, prayer and Scripture in multiple languages, and compelling preaching from Johnson Asare of Markaz Al Bishara (from the conference program: “Through Markaz Al Bishara, Johnson engages in church planting and personal evangelism, as well as many social services such as water nutrition and literacy programs. He uses business platforms such as a hotel, credit unions, grain buying agencies and micro-finance opportunities for missions. All these interventions are carried on with the Gospel flavor, attracting many to Christ, including Muslims.”) He preached on Psalm 23, reminding us that “When you walk on death it will not bite you” and “Surely goodness and mercy will hunt you down.”
The lunch talk-back session with Asare featured lively conversation about business as mission, evangelizing Muslims, and being a Christian in the public square. (At one point he noted, “We need to be very careful when we bring donations from outside to solve problems inside. People are always waiting for Westerners to send them a check. The money is there; it’s right there in Ghana.”)
In the afternoon, student entrepreneurs from both schools went through coaching to prepare them to present business plans to the whole group the next day in competition with each other (there were cash prizes involved! The business plans were awesome; you’ll hear about them in my next post).Meanwhile your humble scribe hung out in the library (where there was an exhibit of obsolete technology for Theological Library Month), then went to a preview of three episodes of Acton Institute’s For The Life of The World curriculum. FLOW more than lived up to all the advance publicity and critical acclaim that has been reported on over at Oikonomia. It was funny, touching, thought-provoking, and visually stunning. (I have to believe that Evan Koons loved delivering the line, “Amy Sherman, gotta go. There’s a title sequence in my front yard.”)
The enthusiasm was catching; I left for the evening almost ready to develop a social project of my own. I also left with a T-shirt from Asbury University reading: “Debt is bad, saving is good, giving is fun, stuff is meaningless.” And I certainly left with more thoughts about how, from a town as small as Wilmore to around the world, we all find ourselves in a web of relationships and exchange. At every moment (as one of Evan Koons’ friends remarks to him in FLOW) we are never alone. What we do, and how justly, generously, and responsibly we do it, affects us all.
If you weren’t following my tweets during the conference, you can still check out all the quotes and pictures on Twitter. More tomorrow (including how even yuppies can have great, biodegradable gardens!)