Like I said in previous posts, the evening sessions for the C3 Kids Conference are combined with the evening sessions for the “big people” C3 Conference. Tonight’s speaker was Ed Young. Before I continue posting, I just want to say that I don’t have any pictures because my cell phone battery died right when I walked into the main auditorium. DOH!
The auditorium was a nice one. If you’ve been to a large church like Fellowship or Willow, they are set up like performing arts auditoriums, which is nice. The cool part was not the stage itself but what framed the stage. I tried to take a picture of it, but that is when I found out the battery in my cell phone had died. Framing the stage were what looked like flourescent tube lights in red placed somewhat randomly but in such a way that they went up one side of the stage, over the top, and then down the other side. I thought to myself, “That’s a cool effect.” A little later while I was sitting there waiting for the session to start, the person sitting next to me introduced himself as someone who attended Fellowship. He pointed out the lights and how cool they were. I said, “Yeah, they look cool.” I was thinking that was something weird for an attendee to point out. Of all the things to point out to a visitor that was cool was the flourescent lights. He then told me they change colour and can scroll in various directions; at times it even looks like the stage is spinning. That is when I was really interested. I thought they were just flourescent tubes! They were really LED tubes that could be programmed to change colour and do neat things. It was a cool effect during the worship time. I only wish I had take a picture of it. (If someone who attended the conference reads this, and you took a picture… tell me in the comments so that I can have you email me a pic.)
The worship was pretty good. It all sounded great. I just appreciate the worship at Redwood so much that it is hard to compare with other places.
When Ed came up to speak, I understood, immediately, why so many people like listening to him. He is a speaker that is fun to listen to and watch. He has been well trained to speak and interact and (for lack of a better term) act on stage. He is very dynamic and interactive. You can tell he puts a lot of time into the presentation of what he is saying as well as what he is actually saying. What he spoke about surrounded the whole idea of Hebrews 12:1 and how there are those who blazed the way cheering us on and we have to get moving. He had different cheers for each of his points. Here are some of his points in very rough form:
- “We’ve got it! Now use it!” He made a point that God created us all innovative and creative. It’s not a matter of asking God to help us be more creative but asking God to remove the barriers that keep us from being as creative as he made us. It was a good point to remember. I think that many of us in ministry see places like Fellowship and think that we aren’t as creative. The thing is that we get so bogged down in thinking we have to copy what is done at these high-profile places and forget that what we have to do is allow God to unleash the creativity in us… the innovativeness in us to creatively present truth to the people in our individual communities and that is going to look different in each place.
- I don’t remember the cheer, but the point was that we need to fight that spiritual battle from a standpoint of victory. He even made the statement that I’ve heard MANY times, “I’ve read the end of the book, and we win!” It was a good thing to say. Unfortunately, I think this is something that many in the church hear over and over again and say, “AMEN!” when we hear it but we don’t act it out… really. We say that we are victorious. We say that we’ve read the end of the story, and we know we win. And, yet, we spend so much time creating movements that fight a “culture war” as if we are losing a battle. Stuff like this tells the people around us that we think we are losing. And if you read and listen to most of evangelical North America, I mean really read and listen to it, it does sound like we are losing. If Christ is truly victorious and we have already won (not we will win), then why are we fighting as if we are losing? We should move forward and act in such a way that shows the people around us that we believe Christ is victorious. What is that like? Well, I believe that means we spend more time reaching out to the hurting around us (not just spiritually hurting but physically as well) and meet their needs, love them, accept them. We need to reach out to those who have been lied to by the enemy and accept them for who they are: human beings created in God’s image… We can do that without affirming lifestyles we don’t agree with. We need to spend more time doing those things and less time fighting. Yes, we are in a spiritual war. But we are going to win not by fighting as if we are losing but by gaining ground as if the battle is over and we’ve already won because it has already been won. The best way I’ve heard it put is that we need to look at the darkness around us not as dusk and things getting darker but as dawn and an opportunity for it to get brighter. We are in the process of bringing about God’s Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven. We need to act that way.
- He talked about sticking to what the church was put here to do and not getting sidetracked.
- He also talked about the different tensions that we have to manage at church… needing both/and of the following and not just choosing one over the other: quality vs. quantity, efficiency vs effectiveness, comfortable vs. uncomfortable, simple vs. complex (in our message), and faith vs. uncertainty. As I listened to this part of Ed’s talk, I was reminded of a book that was referenced in Walking The Parenting Tightrope: Raising Kids Without Losing Your Balance. It was called Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems. I need to add that to my reading list. It is a business book that talks about the necessity of managing seemingly polar opposite values in order to be successful.
- “Push ’em back! Push ’em back! Way back!” This is the one point that I have an issue with. He brought this point up third or fourth, I believe. It was about the need to make sure our real close relationships, the ones that influence us, need to center around other believers. The point was that when there are people in our lives that influence us negatively (away from Christ) we need to step away from those far enough to not be influenced negatively. I get what Ed was trying to say, but I couldn’t help but think that most of the evangelical leaders in the audience were given even more license to surround themselves even tighter with their spiritual bubble. This was the wrong audience for a point like this one. Evangelical Christians have no trouble with sheltering themselves. We’ve got it down to a science. We create our very own subculture with its own language and customs and the rest of the world looks at us and cringes. Evangelicals don’t need to be reminded to “Push ’em back” We do that too well. If anything, we need to “Open arms! Open arms! Way out!” I’m not sure why Ed had this point for this group of people, but I think it did more to undo what he was trying to accomplish than anything else. He essentially gave permission for churches to continue being irrelevant because they are “pushing back… way back.” Like I said… this point was made for the wrong audience.
If it hadn’t been for that one “push ’em back” point, I would have gone away thinking it was a good night. Delivery and presentation were great. I only wish someone in Ed’s creative team would’ve caught that one point and stopped it from going into the talk.