Monday, October 26, 2009

Forum 2009: Behind the Scenes

Allow a few quick thoughts from the planning committee.

  • Every year you host a conference -- or, in our case, an Un-Conference -- it is supposed to be superior experience, but somewhat different from the previous years. The character of the attendees and different speakers can keep it fresh, but ultimately it's the way God chooses to move that creates the surprise.
  • We call this the Un-Conference because we shy away from the traditional big name preaching and singing/music, not because it's bad, but because there are more ways to minister at an event than through just preaching and singing.
  • Maybe you're not surprised that this can be a very hard sell in the Apostolic movement, even among supposedly forward-thinking 20somethings.
  • So this year we took some Un-Conference risks.
  • Apostolics Like Smart People! We decided to highlight the decidedly un-sexy topic of textbook creation in one session because UGST professor Jeffrey Brickle has some unprecedented opportunites (for an Apostolic) to contribute a chapter to an academic textbook entitled The Fourth Gospel and First-Century Media Culture, as well as write a textbook related to his area of expertise (Orality) for the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as contribute sound files to a future edition of the PC Study Bible. This session, which also featured Profesor David Norris, was the best attended session at that time period.
  • We also decided to follow a raucous session on "When is Music Secular?" - full of laughter, a metal music clip, and disagreeing panelists - with Communion. We even had accompanying music (a first for us) as everyone came forward to take the body and blood of Christ. Of course the Lord moved -- with men breaking into tears, and women proclaiming numerous needs being met.
  • This made for a nice bookend to Bro. Jason Sciscoe's opening general session on "Callings vs. Gifts" that turned into a move of God with most everyone worshiping or breaking down at their seats. Soon he began praying with them as they stood or kneeled. At least one attendee said her fear fled when he gave her a word from God on her future.
  • He's a grand God who ministers as we allow Him. This year's edition of the Forum made me wonder if we give Him enough different ways to reach all of us. Or if even the Un-Conference only channels God to move through certain, pre-determined formats.
  • Maybe our imaginations are too small, hidebound to our preconceptions on what a conference is supposed to be. Sometimes we have to take a risk.

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