2Inspire Conference – Did you make it?

Well I missed our movement’s (well, actually Whitford Church’s) conference called 2Inspire as I was at Shark Bay. In fact I have never attended it, just bits of it… but that is another story.
But from “reports” from some “sources” (ok it’s about 3rd hand info!) suggest this years speaker was not as keen about churches experimenting with mission and church planting ideas as last years one was.

Remember Sy Rogers? He spoke last year. He stood up the front and applauded the missional experimentation of Frost and Al Hirsch and their book, “The Shape of Things To Come”.
This year the guy who spoke apparently made some cynical joke about ’emergent church leaders not knowing the difference between light and dark’. I guess you could say, give it up Scott don’t be so sensitive, – well, the joke itself is funny. But, I’m not sure it helps. I wonder if the mainline church gets a bit put off by people in emerging church in days gone by having cynical digs at them? What? This has happened? And what’s that I hear you say? They have been offended by comments and critique made by emergent authors and speakers? Well then, they should know better than to start firing back with the same ammunition. It has been said that as this speaker made his comments about Hirsch and co, that some senior leaders (no doubt sitting down in the front row reserved seats) shouted out their “amens” of agreement. (or rather disent!) – Certainly not MW of Whitford, as he shared with me just last week of his wholehearted support for the work of Al Hirsch, Forge and experimental mission. In fact COCWA fully endorse and support their work…not sure, I guess I needed to be there, maybe the whole thing needs to taken with a grain of salt…maybe, I am just confused about it a bit!
(I have just heard that the Speaker did say something along the lines of “I am not anti-emerging church”.)

I would have to say, in my observation, the emergent crew that I have met here in Oz fully admit they started off on the wrong foot. A cynical one that was too quick to criticise anything that did not look like it. These days most of these people are repentant of these harsh words. Prefering to get on with mission.
Now it looks like it’s the time for the main line church to ‘hit back’. Not just here at this conference, I hear it all over the place. Can we critique with out criticising? I am not sure but I want try. Not all emergent practitioners have ‘off’ theology, as I understand that not all pastors of big churches have ‘off’ theology either!
I think we may need to be careful that we don’t become like Mr Bush and his mates who ‘in the name of Jesus’ have sought revenge and evoked hatred and fear in their response to attacks on them. So much for turning the other cheek. Lets not follow this open example of ‘anti-Christ’ behaviour by using the same mode within our own faith.

So am I sorry I missed the conference? Nope! I’m sure many people loved it, good one, I hope it serves to build the Church as it is intended to do. I hope any distructive comments or attitudes did not damage relationships or attitudes people may have. I hope we can all move on (emergent and main line) to love and higher issues.

Post Script – Mike, who I have lots of respect for wrote the following ;

What a great conference!

Brian Winslade gave thought provoking, funny-at-time, and relevant input to the delegates at the Conference.

His Friday night message was particularly challenging – what sort of church community do we seek to become, given the first example in Acts 2.

The Whitford worship team did a great job. The catering, venue and general conference organisation was excellent.

Thanks Guys.

So take your pick.


9 thoughts on “2Inspire Conference – Did you make it?

  1. carn mate, dont be so sensitive. It was a long joke making fun of every denomination/style. It ended with a jibe at the bapo’s not knowing what ‘change’ was. =)

  2. As stated in the post, you could say “dont be so sensitive”,
    and you did just that…creative! But I just found the irony interesting that we can make jokes about all these types of things but I bet if I got up in a general denomonational conference and made a joke about “consumer driven, business managed, seeker sensitive churches that jump from one trend to another purpose driven trend” there would be some people not saying “amen”! But as stated, I do think the joke was funny.

  3. Great writ Vawz, I tend to agree, in particular to the quarms that are experienced between ‘Christian’ organisations, churches, denominations and the like. However harmless some of the jokes are, there is often a sense of seriousness behind them that does damage. That belittles and builds up for self cause.
    What is it that we have bought into in Christian circles? Why is it that the religious ways of man have become so important that we can joke about another man’s view of Christianity,is it simply from being lost too long in a religious blackhole?
    I also pray that we “can all move on . . to love and higher issues”, If we don’t, we give a view to all those who need that love, a very strange and confused vision.

  4. yes we can laugh at our denominational jokes. but underneath i wonder if we are really showing some of the hidden distaste people feel…

    … jokes may be funny, but they usually start from some underlieing feelings. Sometimes I find myself laughing along, but inside feeling some slight discomfort at where the origions of the jokes may come from

  5. Hi guys
    Mike B – the guy who gave the 2-Inspire conference a good rap here.
    I just reiterate my comments. Especially given Brian Winslade’s preaching (Graham Maybury and John Bond also gave excellent sessions). There was much in BW material that was very EC friendly. The illustration of the Church in Bangladesh where the gospel has been hindered from reaching Muslims because the Bible translation and predominant church culture was tied to a Hindu base – but their society had since changed – was, I thought, an excellent challenge to all of us – whatever sort of church we call ourselves. I think we are in danger of theological imperialism – from both sides of the fence. Generally most practitioners find some things that work in particular cultural groups – and that’s what practitioning is all about. Frankly, I don’t care what shape the Church takes if it engages at least a segment of the culture with the life of Jesus (and I mean that in the full-orbed sense of transformation of creation).

    BW did make some provocative comments about EC people but he couched that with phrases like “These guys make some very good points that we need to think through.” I think if you sat down with him you’d find that he’s a guy who’s seriously about Jesus, serious about reaching people, and he’s serious about engaging with culture (or at least a segment of it) in order to do that. His leadership record in churches is of turning stagnant, non-missional churches into growing missional churches (he’s done this a number of times).

    That’s where I was coming from. I found his preaching very well grounded and missionally challenging. He did display a degree of (as he puts it) “testicular fortitude” to preach what he preached on Friday night. Good on ya Brian – that was a great message and spot on.

    I can fully understand the “conference burnout” type reality. But that’s a different issue.

    A few years ago I heard someone speak about (how’s that for a accurate reference) having “hard feet and soft hearts.” I think that’s where we need to go. The speaker challenged us not to have “soft feet and hard hearts.” I think there’s a lot of mileage in that.

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