So we have returned home tonight from our trip to Atlanta. The speaker at the general session this morning was Doug Fields. Honestly, I wasn't very excited about the session. I hadn't read his famous book that all youth pastors are supposed to read, and I didn't expect much to connect with. But I was pleasantly surprised by Doug's humility, grace, and openness as he challenged youth workers to consider how envy has influenced and informed their youth ministry and lives. He was entertaining, pretty funny, and seemed to be having a lot of fun when he shared. Like many of the speakers for the main session or worship bands, I was surprised by the way they carried themselves. Although there were some bands that I wasn't so excited with, and I didn't always agree with a lot of the things said, there seemed to be an openness throughout the weekend to see the "other" as a person with a face, a family, a life...and that those persons are doing their best to live life in the way of Jesus. Doug did a great job of challenging youth workers to let go of envy while learning to support others.
The last breakout session that Shey and I went to was Phyllis Tickle's seminar on the Seven Ancient Disiplines that could help nurture and inform our students' spiritual formation. Like every other time I've heard her speak now, she is always up for a great laugh, telling a powerful story, and doesn't take herself too seriously. Through her own humility she opens the door for dialogue amongst various perspectives. She talked a lot about her experiences and theological insights in practicing fixed-hour prayer, or keeping the offices. I've been trying to keep the hours again this semester and I've found it to be a profound experience. Praying with the church all over the world is a beautiful image of unity and community that I believe helps to act as an icon or image that beckons us forward to living out the reality of God's kingdom come and will being done on earth as in heaven. Tickle's prayer manuals are fantastic, and very helpful for what she called the "liturgically challenged." Which myself, growing up Southern Baptist, most certainly am.
I'll post some further thoughts of my overall impression of the convention tomorrow. But as for now, it's time to get some sleep, 5:40 a.m. is coming quick. peace.