Born Again Church Tour 2008 in Denver
Friday, Oct. 17, 10:00 am
I am sitting in Foothills Community Church enjoying the Born Again Church Tour 2008 near Denver, CO. Foothills Community Church gathers regularly in a renovated movie theater complex – it’s quite an interesting space. The seats in the main gathering space have cup holders (I’m assuming they are the former theater seats) – it’s nice to be in a church venue where coffee is welcome almost everywhere. Yes, I have brought my Seattle-ite habit of drinking liquid sunshine even though the sun is shining brightly here. The weather is amazing – it’s supposed to get up to 76 degrees tomorrow.
So far, Jim Henderson has set the stage for why the church needs to be born again and started the morning showing us the following video:
After introducing the motivation behind the Tour, which includes David Kinnaman’s research revealed in his book unChristian (you can read my review here), Jim introduced some of the speakers including Randy Siever of Doable Evangelism, Kathy Escobar of The Refuge here in the Denver area, Todd Hunter of Three is Enough, and David Kinnaman of unChristian fame. After introducing speakers, Jim briefly interviewed the sponsors – Sheila from George Fox Seminary and Rick from Compassion Int’l.
Off The Map, the producers of this event, have an interesting ethos concerning conferences – they value connection over content (though the content is always stellar) and offer variety with two venues featuring two speakers without venue police – giving people permission to choose and switch venues at any time. They also offer plenty of travel time between sessions – so people can linger in conversations about the topics presented.
I’ll be blogging throughout the event, so check back for new and exciting updates about The Born Again Church Tour 2008.
Now I’m sitting listening to Sally Morgenthaler who says she left church so she could find Jesus. You can read a little about Sally at Christianity Today. The only problem with the two venues is that you do have to make a choice, sometimes between two speakers of interest. While Sally was speaking in one venue, Randy Siever was speaking in another. Attendees of both venues seemed engaged in involved in the topic. Each speaker speaks for about 20 minutes, then spends another 20 minutes engaging the attendees in conversation with each other as well as with the group at large. It’s quite a fun format.
Kinnaman is just finishing up a repeat of his talk from this morning on How we Shape and Solve Christianity’s Image Problem, while Todd Hunter talked about his soon to be released book, Christianity Beyond Belief. Fortunately, I’ve heard both talks at previous events – so I took some time to just chill for a while. The workshops are starting soon, with eight choices – I have to work the book table, so I won’t be attending any, but there are many of interest. I may peek my head into Hugh Halter’s Tangible Kingdom talk for a few minutes. I’m planning to read his book soon for school.
Hugh Halter’s Tangible Kingdom workshop was quite intriguing. Hugh’s got some good stories, interesting ideas, and sincere commitment to missional living. I’m looking forward to reading his book. I’m going to go order it right now – can you believe he didn’t bring any with him to sell at his workshop? I peeked my head in some of the other workshops and everyone seemed engaged in the topics and enjoying each other.
Jim Henderson and Todd Hunter are interviewing 4 young people to go beyond the statistics of David Kinnaman’s book unChristian. Some amazing stories and great dialogue. I think Jim, Todd and Craig Spinks (the video guy) are working on a book/video project to get these stories out for others to learn from. The first topic of discussion after introductions: politics…
Saturday, Oct. 18, 9:00 am
Still thinking about last night’s Outsider’s Interview. One of the interviewees was raised in a very conservative Christian home, wanted to make sure she wasn’t a statistic (statistics show a large number of young people leave their faith after they leave home) so she chose a Christian college. After going off to college she began wrestling with issues of sexuality and wondering if she might be gay. When she told her college community, she was rejected even to the point of bullet holes in her windshield, and then her family told her she was no longer welcome. I cried. I’m still crying inside with occasional leaks out my tear ducts. Today, Jim and Casper will be doing a session called, “Is This What Jesus Told You Guys To Do?” I can’t help but wonder if telling our children they are no longer a welcome part of the family was something Jesus told us to do. As a parent of four daughters who are swiftly approaching that age – the one of becoming a statistic – I can’t imagine ever telling them they are no longer a welcome member of our family.
This first session we are doing Lectio Divina together, meditating on the following passage:
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
David Kinnaman offers advice from outsiders for Christians:
- Shut up and listen.
- Don’t label me.
- Don’t be so smart.
- Put yourself in my place.
- Be genuine.
- Be my friend because you want to.
David does a good job of intergrating examples from Jesus life to illustrate how we can follow this advice Christianly. Bottom line: we can’t have an agenda other than love with no strings attached. I like the way David communicates what’s on his heart.
The Born Again Church Tour is almost over – this is the last speaker session, with a wrap up at the end reflecting on the two days. Then, I’ll be busy packing up the book table, making sure everybody who needs a ride to the airport gets there, and then will be connecting with a friend from my George Fox Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership cohort who lives in the area. Tomorrow I’ll be hanging out with Kathy Escobar of The Refuge hoping to get a brief window into her world and her missional community.
I’m having a great time on the road from Portland last week to Denver this week but I miss my family and am looking forward to heading home soon.