Friday, June 29, 2007

My Reflections on the 2007 Buzz Conference

The 2007 Buzz Conference really snuck up on me. Leadership Network had asked me to research and write a paper for them on how churches are using social networking tools for kingdom impact. Mark Batterson agreed that it made sense to distribute the piece at this conference (now avail here) and LN was gracious enough to enable me to attend. Though I ended up participating in one of the Q&A's around the piece (and other topics) on Wednesday, I primarily went to network with other leaders.

I've been to a number of church conferences and technical conferences for my day job, and perhaps I've grown a bit cynical. Longtime emergesque readers are aware of our critique (here and elsewhere) of an evangelicalism that sometimes has seemed to subscribe to the omnicompetence of information transfer as the primary modality of spiritual transformation. We've suggested biblical information is necessary but that something else is also needful. Our conferences (and, without apology, I do consider myself to be an evangelical, though I know in some circles that seems to be increasingly unfashionable) have to me sometimes seemed to be too much of an extension of that.

But Buzz snuck up on me because today I realized that after this conference, I actually feel spiritually refreshed and deeply challenged! Evidence of that is the volume of notes that I took represented below - I don't generally do this. I think there are at least three factors behind my response:

  • As I mentioned before, Mark graciously invited me to his home Wed night for dinner and I was able to spend some relaxed time chatting with the main speakers, their families, and some others. I appreciated the humility, the heart, and the spirit of the folks there.

  • Though there certainly was a ton of information transfer at this conference, there was something more. We didn't just receive info from our speakers but they also gave us their hearts and showed us their passion. This deepened the impact of the truths they shared.

  • Mark has set up prayer teams for the participants of this conference. I believe I personally experienced the positive results of their faithful intercession.

  • Finally, I was just encouraged by the general direction that we are beginning to see in evangelicalism - and evidenced by speakers' comments - away from the attractional model that focuses on church growth and toward the incarnational model that emphasizes the church moving out into the community. (I actually believe it's a both/and situation.) A significant contingent of the folks at NCC's Ebenezer's site are homeless folks and I loved the mixture of demographics that was obvious in the NCCers that volunteered to work at the conference.
I just emailed NCC because I want to hear again today's talk by Craig Groeschel. I resonate with what Mark Batterson blogged today when he wrote:

I honestly think that Craig Groeschel's session today may have been the most powerful conference talk I've ever heard. I'll be digesting it for weeks and months!
NCC is considering not doing Buzz in '08. If you're reading this and found Buzz '07 useful, please join with me in campaigning NCC to by all means do it again next year!

- Metapost to all emergesque Buzz Conference posts

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