Many Beliefs

20121110-070950.jpgIt’s early, and even earlier back home. I have only had a tiny bit of coffee so far.

That’s your warning.

But there’s something I had to write down while I was thinking about it.

This weekend, I’m at Youth Cartel’s Summit in Atlanta, GA. The format is smart. Following a day of pre-event sessions yesterday (I went to a session with Chris Folmsbee on “Revisioning Your Ministry”), the event officially kicked off last night. Session #1 was called “Here+Now” and featured 6 fifteen minute speakers. Theologian Mark Moore talked about dependence on God and the sovereignty of God; Aaron Arnold talked about shifts in global youth culture; Nikole Lim talked about teenagers we overlook; Rhett Smith talked about anxiety in teenagers; Brock Morgan gave what I could tell was a challenging talk for many about reaching teenagers who don’t need Jesus; and Amanda Drury talked about the importance of giving teenagers a voice and testimony. It was very well done. After Session #1, we could all choose a digging deeper group to attend. I went to Mark Moore’s because his talk was the most challenging for me as a thinker–although I’d have loved to visit all of the digging deeper groups.

Last year, the only conference I attended was Unco, where I was surrounded by 60ish other people of mostly reformed or mainline traditions. This year so far, I’ve been to two continuing ed experiences at Montreat, where I was surrounded by a lot of Presbyterians and some people of other reformed, mainline traditions.

Here at The Summit, there are plenty of reformed/mainline church leaders. But there are also a lot of evangelical church leaders, a lot of non-denominational church leaders, a lot of large church leaders (as well as a lot of small church leaders, too). People think differently about things.

At Montreat, it’s easy to find a group of people who (painting with broad strokes here for the sake of explanation) basically think the same way I do.

Here, in both discussion groups I’ve been in so far, there’s a wide array of beliefs and we’re discussing our differences and presenting different viewpoints–and that’s a very good thing.

Last night’s six speakers ran a wide range of topics. Some things that were said caused me to sit back in my chair and think, “that’s so true!” Some of the things that were said made me scoot to the edge of my seat and listen closer to make sure I heard her/him right because surely she/he’s not suggesting that… And in the big room of Session #1, you could tell that people were having those kinds of moments at different times. What made me move to the edge of my seat was sitting just fine with my brother across the aisle. What I thought “Hey, that’s so true!” about was causing the sister in front of me to squirm in her seat.

That’s awesome!

That’s a vision of God’s Kingdom.

There’s an incredible diversity among Jesus’ people. In the church, we need to be willing to sit with and listen to viewpoints and beliefs coming from different traditions or schools of thought. We cannot be scared of beliefs that look different than the ones that we hold. Our goal cannot be “I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m going to convince you” either. We need to give space for different views and thoughts than our own.

There’s more to say, and the talks came so rapid fire (“like drinking from a fire hose” really) that I wrote a bunch of notes that I will need to look over again and possibly follow up with some reading or visits to speakers blogs and websites.

Session #2’s coming up! I’m so excited about this great gathering of God’s people.