I have been reading (and commenting) over at Allelon on a post by Andrew M about conferences. Specifically triggered by last weekends Forge festival. I though t I would post some of my thoughts here too.
I said that “I have to confess something…I came away [from the festival/conference] feeling a bit like Andrew M. I know all the cliches about getting out what you put in etc. I was feeling a bit off on the Friday before it all started, but went Friday night and loved it, Mike frost was great [a message worth getting a hold of] , catching up with some old friends was a blast!
I loved the conference being in the heart of Melbourne.
The venue was brilliant.
The electives all looked great (although not explained in much detail on the handbook. In fact this is a personal issue but I hate so many choices, I end up not choosing and going out for coffee somewhere.)
I felt the conference, (any conference for that matter) missed the point of what an organic movement is all about – organic, grass roots(y). As soon as a movement such as Forge begin to gather in a “Forgesong” style gathering (ok cynic is me) I feel we lose something of our unique underground subversive identity. I have nothing to back this up other than a feeling I had the first night I walked into conference #1 in 2006 and saw T-shirts and stick pins for sale.
So why have I continued to return after 3 years?
Same as what Hamo said – I love gathering with people of like mind and hearing stories, coffee shop stories more than up front preachy stories. Over 3 years of attending – this has been almost addictive for me, the stories. The word ‘Tribe’ is used a fair bit about these gatherings. I like that, only that it does not feel like a tribe when we assemble in the big auditorium. It feels like a church meeting, or just like a conference of the type that I used to attend almost religiously up to 8 or 9 times a year in my old mega church life.”
3 thoughts on “Forge Conference Thoughts”
My guess is that in the next couple of years Forge will become more and more appealing to many of the dominant evangelical institutions in our country. Why?
Well, while these systems struggle to remain “cutting edge” and “excellent” Forge will have no problems utilising their plethora of funky, culturally savvy, theologically sharp, grass-roots practitioners (did i mention the masses of ex-pastors???) to grow in leaps and bounds.
They will continue to produce great books, great conferences, great speakers, great mission experiences, great __________ (you fill in the blank), and all of this will no doubt capture the attention of the old girl floundering in her own waste.
Will history repeat itself? Will the the radical fringe dwellers slowly move towards the centre of the system and in doing so lose their once- raw characteristics (prophetic-ness)that made it so potent, dangerous and despised in its earlier days – (ahhh the good ol days :-)??? I guess time will tell.
But hats off to an organisation that is run by so many amazing and committed people – they have been a life-line to many in a sea of institutionalised religious despair, including this little puppy.
Forgesong!!! ha ha ha!!
Scott, I love your questing, questioning, querulous spirit (note the alliteration? I was once schooled in the allure of alliteration!)
Don’t you reckon that ‘movements’ pass through predictable cycles. Is that a bad thing? No. No more than the universal fact that everything alive moves through cycles – conception/seed, birth/emergence, growth/development, procreation/maturity, age/generativity, death/resurrection.
Nothing remains unchanged (including God?), and the pulse of life continues to throb. We celebrate the life; we mourn the death; we hope for the resurrection.
My point? Don’t be disillusioned. Only those living under illusions can be dissillusioned. The story of faith is the story of cycles and rhythms. Forge is no exception. Neither is the christian church itself (a rhythmic story of multiple deaths and resurrections if ever there was one; the current ‘modern western’ protestant incarnation is in its death throes, struggling for resurrection, in my view).
The question? How to discern and sense the rhythms.
The challenge? To want to go on living.