At 10 AM we were in our first seminar and we were in for a long ride.
Below I will give an overview of the schedule we went through today.
- Conversation Seminar with Dave Fleming- This seminar emphasized the need for a more conversational form of leadership and community as opposed to a corporate/top-down model. Very valuable insights. Dialogue was a key word. Bob and I practice this type of thing a lot when we discuss theology/emerging stuff on Wednesdays and it's in his sermons on Sundays.
- Next was an intro to the convention format which includes small, medium, large and extra large activities: forums, seminars, learning communities, general sessions.
- Next we met with our Learning Community for the first time. The LC is a group of about 200 people linked by a common-colored nametag (ours are sage, I was informed- who knows what sage looks like). During our LC we were presented and led in a conversation by Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch and Alan Roxburgh of the Gospel and Our Culture Network. The topic of conversation was Church. (the subsequent topics will be Truth, Scripture, and Humanity). Anyways, this was a helpful dialogue about the meaning of being and doing church in this new postmodern paradigm. It was designed to be a conversation rather than a presentation. This made the whole thing a lot more helpful.
- The seminar that came next was probably the most important seminar I've ever attended. Pluralism Revisited. The title reveals a lot. The fact that the presenters was Brian McLaren will make some more conservative folks foam at the mouth. (hehehe) Well, Brian did an awesome job of bringing the whole room through a history of ethics/epistemology and leading us to a place beyond absolutism, pluralism or relativism. The problem is, no one knows what lies beyond these. Brian brought us to N.T. Wright's idea of an "epistemology of love." Following Brian's great presentation was an opportunity for questions and answers. The first question was from a black woman. Her question was something to the effect of "What are we emerging to if we build something just like what we're emerging from?" The room (mostly full of affluent white males) was shocked. The next fifteen of conversation of what it means to be an inclusive community was invaluable. No one could have better brought this topic up in a crowd of white emergents. There were also a couple of pastors who wanted to challenge some of Brian's conclusions (or perhaps defend theirs). Brian responded well, with large doses of humility. It was encouraging to see the not-self-declared prophet of the emerging church respond directly to some of his harshest criticisms about the nature of moral absolutes and the exclusiveness of Christ as Savior. Both of which Brian affirmed while challenging the use of such extreme language.
- Instead of speakers in general sessions, we have a blesser named Phyllis Tickle. Ms. Tickle is an eloquent speaker with a sharp wit. She told a story and reminded us of some 'old treasures'.
- From there we went to a Taize service at the Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal Church a few blocks from the convention center. Instead of corporate times of over-the-top worship in the convention center we were given three worship options at three different downtown churches. The church where we worshipped was gorgeous. And the music of Taize is wonderful for ending a really long and tiring day.
Thinking through this whole day, I'm really glad to have been here. The seminar with Brian McLaren was better than I can explain. And I have been blessed a lot today.
A blessing on any readers.