Conference Review

Not everyone can or wants to go to every conference. This is a summary of a recent conference. I think sharing the info that we learn at conferences is important.

The “Everything Must Change” tour came to Goshen College on May 9-10. This seminar was lead by renowned evangelical leader in the emerging Christian church movement, Brian McLaren. His focus for the event was addressing the following questions: “What are the world’s top global crises?” and “What does the message of Jesus say to those crises?”

Early on in the seminar, McLaren related a story in which he was leading youth worship as a young adult. He asked the youth to help him create a list of the major concerns at their churches. Issues such as whether or not to have guitars as part of worship music were brought up. He then asked the youth to help him create a list of the issues that they considered the most pressing global concerns, and issues like nuclear disarmament and famine came up. A startling difference was apparent between the two lists. Just like he suggested in the narrative of his story, McLaren instigated a call for a breaking down of the secular/sacred divide and for the Church to be deeply involved in the issues on the second list, the global list. Those of us who attended the seminar were treated to and challenged by a multi-dimensional, mixed media approach to exploring how to understand and deal with interconnected global crisis issues of planet, poverty, and peacemaking. The fourth major crisis McLaren introduced was “purpose”. He explained the latter concept in his assertion that “the biggest problem in the world is the way that we think about the biggest problems in the world.”

Attendees were urged to dissolve the binary world of “Us vs. Them” and to put in its place “Us for all of Us” and to find the needed message capable of motivating people to address the first three crises in the original message of Jesus, that has historically too often been marginalized, even among Christians.

McLaren lectured on the revealing nature of reconsidering Jesus in his original political and social context, from which a fresh vision of Jesus emerges, one that shows striking relevance to contemporary crises in our “globalizing, ecologically-stressed, polarizing and war-torn world.” Just as in our current world reality, in his time, Jesus had to deal with the problematic nature of different cultural, religious and political groups resorting to one of four unhealthy but common states of relating to others, those being:
1. Domination
“If only we were in charge”
2. Revolution
“If only they weren’t in charge”
3. Revenge/Victimhood/Scapegoating
“If only they would change”
4. Isolation/Withdrawl
“There’s no hope. Lets retreat to the bubble”
Jesus’ answers to these relational traps characteristic of a “suicidal system” were:
Don’t Dominate — Serve!
Don’t Get Revenge — Reconcile!
Don’t Scapegoat — Embrace!
Don’t Isolate — Draw Near & Heal!

It was impressively clear that the purpose of the Everything Must Change tour was to serve as a “catalyst for long term, sustainable change in the lives of people and organizations, as opposed to being a one-time event”.
This long-term action rests upon the realization that growth is not the solution to every problem and that it can often become harmful.
It rests upon understanding that our ecological footprint is too big, and that we need to make way for sustainable relations with God’s precious Earth.
It rests upon a firm belief that where you live should not determine if you live.
It rests upon the realization of the drastically unequal distribution of wealth and the need for systematic change in how nations relate to security, prosperity, or the lack their of.
It rests upon taking a personal stand against war.
And most importantly, the long-term action calls for us to invite others into mass collaboration and to create and strengthen movements. This means, being involved yourself, and sharing your fear, passion and hope. For everything to change, we must make the way by walking it, just like Jesus.

(thanks to NTC for documenting these reflections)

Comments (3)

  1. IndieFaith

    I get the sense you thought it worthwhile to go. The tour is coming to Toronto in September and I was thinking of encouraging some people from my congregation to go, would you advise it?

  2. SteveK

    As inspiring as some conferences are– and this one sounds wonderful– is it really worth the money and the time. I just read an article by someone working against poverty, who heard a joking comment by one of his collegues, “I can’t actually work against poverty because I’m too busy going to conferences about working against poverty!”

    Isn’t there a time when conferences, instead of calling us to action, actually take us out of the action? Should we be spending our money and time and resources on connecting with others when we should actually just be doing the work? Perhaps if we need to network a conference would be good, but perhaps we should limit our involvement so we can actually “love and do good deeds” instead of just talk about it.

    Steve K

  3. Pingback: Everything Must Change Conference » Young Anabaptist Radicals

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