In the last few weeks, several people have asked, “What’s different about The New Conspirators conference?” It is a fair question. One might be tempted to think it will be exactly like all the other emerging church conferences that are happening now. Let us try to explain some elements of our conference that we hope are not only new, but valued by those that come to this gathering on February 28, 29 and March 1 at Bethany Community Church here in Seattle.
Distinctive 1: Hearing From Four Streams Instead of One
In the last five years, there has been an array of conferences and “learning parties” on the emerging church. Since we at MSA believe that God is at work through the innovators and risk-takers of more movements than just the emerging church, we will bring together the leaders of four streams of renewal: Missional, Mosaic, Monastic and, of course, Emerging. To read about the streams, click here.
Distinctive 2: Bringing New Expressions and Established Congregations Together
At many emerging gatherings, a few older people are in attendance, but they often seem to be looking in from the outside, pressing their noses to the window, trying to make sense of the emerging edge. They rarely seem to be brought into the conversation as full participants. We want these more mature Christians to participate by sharing their experience and insights, and also by being open to learn from younger risk-takers.
Distinctive 3: Exploring Questions Important For the Entire Church
Younger leaders in all four streams are not only creating new models from which we can all learn, but they are also raising important questions that the entire church needs to re-examine. We hope to struggle with these two questions at our gathering:
1. What does authentic faith look like?
2. How can we make mission more central to our gathered lives?
Distinctive 4: Taking the Future of God Seriously
One of the major characteristics of young leaders in all four streams is that they tend to spend much more time discussing the kingdom of God and exploring how to fully embody it in their lives and communities. In the life, death and resurrection of Christ, another world has broken into this one! Justice is coming for the poor, the disabled are being healed, creation is being restored and shalom is coming to the nations! Throughout our time together, we hope and pray that you will hear the clear invitation to live into, serve and celebrate the new world that is breaking into this one.
Distinctive 5: Taking the Future of the World Seriously
Most of the conferences I have attended, and most of the leaders with whom I have worked, tend to unconsciously work from the unstated assumption that the future will pretty much be an extension of the present. In a world changing as rapidly as ours, it is absurd to operate as though the future is static–as though we are frozen in a time warp. At the beginning of this gathering, we will provide a brief outline of some of the new ways we can respond to the challenges likely to confront those in both established and experimental churches.
Distinctive 6: Taking Our Imagination Seriously
One of the most compelling characteristics of young leaders in all four streams is the unusual level of imagination, innovation and entrepreneurship that these young leaders demonstrate. In that spirit, we are calling our gathering “a festival of imagination.” Essentially, we want participants to imagine new forms of life, community, worship, advocacy, mission and celebration that 1) more fully give expression to that world that is already here, and 2) more effectively engage the new challenges of our increasingly uncertain future.
Distinctive 7: Taking Connections Seriously
We really want the conference space to be a place of learning, discussing and creating, but we hope it will also be a place of connecting, especially with other participants. To meet this end, we will have an informal hangout space with abundant coffee, wireless internet and places to meet up with new friends. Speakers will be available to chat in the gathering place after the Thursday evening session and throughout the conference.
We hope this will be a worthwhile gathering in which to communicate, create and connect. Consider joining us for “The New Conspirators: What in the World Is God Doing?” and let us know if we succeed in creating a different kind of gathering.