All checked in

I’ve gotten my packet of materials. And my lanyard.

The lanyard is key, you know. My identity worn around my neck that announces both my identity, comfortable first name interaction, and a sign that I have a right to be included among the movers, shakers, and pastors.

The day is set up with a main session, starting in about an hour, then there are different “labs” each emphasizing a particular goal. Pioneers, Entrepreneurs, Innovators, Activists, and Explorers. Three sessions make up the day. A person can commit to a particular role or they can mix and match.

Having looked at the materials I’m thinking I might start out the day as a Pioneer, listening to Dave Gibbons and then Dan Kimball. I’ll end the day as a Explorer (and no, I don’t know the difference between these categories–maybe they’ll parse the terminology for us). Alan and Deb Hirsch are leading that last session, and as Alan Hirsch is the only person that I know at this conference (including attendees), I figure I’ll sit in and here his latest. I have really valued his work, which really pushes the theology deeper and stronger.

As for my own feeling here, so far…

I feel a strong bit of the outsider. I was in ministry for a while, played the game, did the stuff. I’ve spent a lot of time with those who are still pushing and shaping and exploring. I’ve been burned, I’ve been enlightened, I’ve felt more alive than ever, I’ve felt more crushed than life should allow–all while in church and ministry. I’m a theology student now. I’m not committed to a local community as of yet, and I’m not walking the world of ministry life. I know these people around me, I can talk and share and find genuine camaraderie. But I’m not one of them.

I’m also at a curious place of thought. I’m exceedingly critical of emerging, missional, and ‘innovative’ church stuff. I’ve been among the cutting edge, and I’ve seen how it slices and dices souls at times. I’m not bright-eyed. I’m not marveling at celebrity or new approaches.

But neither am I cynical. I see the people walking by now as people genuinely seeking God in this world, for this world. That’s something. I respect those who are here, for what they do, even as I don’t know the specifics of what they do.

I’m also learned. In life and ministry I’ve been to the shadow lands and I’ve been to the mountain tops. I’ve read a lot, listened a lot, and written a lot. I know emerging and missional thought, coming to my ministry life within its ranks and since then studying the wider writings actions. I can place that within a theological framework-whether that is Moltmann, or Liberation, or anabaptist. I know how to listen for cues and know how to spot obfuscations.

I’m educated in this world. But, that brings with it a bit of a handicap. I’ve lost my earnestness. I love authentic earnestness, that excitement to do, and to become, and to put into practice. It’s an innocence. That might bring problems of its own, to be sure, but there is an excitement about possibilities. I’m still excited about possibilities but I’m cautious and analytical. I arrive here, I realize, as much a detective as I am a participant. I’m here to listen and analyze, not as much here to listen expecting anything grand or new or transformational.

The books for sale in the lobby, after all, reflect the gathered learning of the various speakers. I’ve read or skimmed these books and know their roots and sources.

That attitude, of course, can bring with it a supposed arrogance, a wrongly placed arrogance that includes a sense of superiority even as I don’t have a church, or a ministry, or anything. An arrogance of learning, not of doing (which can have its own arrogance).

But I don’t want that. I am here precisely because all these other people are here. I want to learn, to put into context what I hear and what I discover.

I came alone, and no doubt that adds to the feeling of outsider isolation. Conferences are a whole different reality when there is a group of friends.

I know. I’m thinking too much. I should meet people instead of typing on my blog.

But, we all have our role and place.

Weather wise, for those interested, it’s cold and overcast. I smell the beach air but I don’t see the beach sun.

I like that. Though, sun makes me happy. Maybe it’s the weather that gets me all overly reflective.

Back in a bit, if I find something more to say and freedom/signal to say it.

This entry was posted in emerging church, liveblogging, origins project. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to All checked in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *