The picture to the left is the only picture I have managed to take over the last couple of days. It is from today’s “A2” sessions, modeled on the popular TED talks, where thinkers of all types get together to share great ideas in concise, 15-minute presentations.
Adam Durso, pictured on the left, is a pastor from Brooklyn who spoke from Galatians on the need for straight talk and accountability among church leadership and the dispelling of the myth that senior pastors are untouchable. “The Apostle Paul wrote that when Peter was being a hypocrite, even though he was the one Jesus said was the rock upon whom he would build his church, ‘I confronted him to his face.’ This tells me one thing about Paul: he was from Brooklyn.” I thought that was funny.
Ben Trolese from Portland, Oregon (by way of Nicaragua) presented on how MFI churches can impact the Latino communities around them, which essentially boiled down to loving and serving them and being open to accommodating cultural change within our local churches. “When you get to heaven, expecting to hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ don’t be surprised if instead you hear the Father saying ‘Bienvenidos, Papito! La fiesta esta adentro! ‘”
The day was bookended by speakers from large churches in the South. Larry Stockstill (Bethany World Prayer Center, Baton Rouge, La.) preached on world missions, while Steven Furtick (Elevation Church, Charlotte, N.C.) spoke from 2 Timothy on crises of confidence and how ministers can overcome them. Both messages were reasonably good, but simple. They left me wondering how necessary Christian conferences really are. Is the Gospel really all that complicated? Do we need conferences to unpack things in a way that has never been done? What do conferences create but a certain atmosphere, and the opportunity for fellowship between people who ordinarily would not interact? In the long run, are they worth the cost of time and money? I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, but I am asking them all the same.