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Miller Time at SHIFT Conference February 28, 2007

Posted by peterong in Rants, Reflections, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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The Don (I affectionately call him that) brings his much touted brilliance in this touch of humour and authentic approach to evangelism. He speaks of narratives and each of our yearning to be part of a story…and what is our story? I think that our youth ministries are not part of this big story of God’s call for redemption and justice…to free the chains of oppression…a spiritual activity that is beyond the maintenance of our youth models…He gave glimpses of being part of a larger story such as when Pastor Rick at Imageo Dei challenged his congregations to not go into debt but make gifts…to challenge our notions of what story we are part of…

I have seen so many of our youth ministry resources feed into this unhealthy and shallow narrative of comfortable surburban Christianity (A great discourse on this is Dave Goetz’s Death by Suburbs). Yet Miller hints as something more…something that goes beyond the mere pretense of worship, but a life that is infused into a narrative that involves conflict, sacrifice and ultimately points to a redeemer…

The Don is brilliant in taking pause for us…especially for those of us who have either been too consumed by the “methods” and the “formulas” or even worse the “sales pitch” of evangelism…that when it comes time for us to speak of God…we stutter through…and seem mute because perhaps our story is one of deep comfort and huddling in fellowships where we congratulate each other on being a Christian but not engage in a larger narrative of redemption.

What if we were able to create ministries can show the redemptive power of the gospel…to those who are poor around the world…what if we did 30 Hour Famines every month…what if we instead of buying Christian T-Shirts used it to give thirsty people drink…

That is why we are sometimes wondering why our kids are bored…their highlight in fellowship is…the free pizza, they will tolerate the friday night pep talks, or just catching up with their childhood friends…they are bored because we have presented an incomplete gospel…one that is insular and focused on being safe versus relevant…

I did wonder what the Don considers to be “good” community…He touched on it…but didn’t expand on it…any thoughts?

Blogging on Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference February 26, 2007

Posted by peterong in Events, Rants, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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Thanks to Jeremy Del Rio, I have been asked to blog on the speaker sessions for Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference. Other bloggers from around the country will post their thoughts and reflections on their typepad blog.
As I look at the lineup it appears to be loaded with some mix of the old and new…but as I suspected, no Asian American representation to speak of…Not a single Asian as main speakers, breakout sessions, and/or public leadership.

 Makes me wonder who is the audience for the conference and what why the lack of representation in such a mainstream venue? Is it that we don’t have any major leaders in this field or rather no-one provocative enough to grant a slot for speaking some truth. But perhaps they just didn’t value this representation of a distinctive Asian American voice could bring to a mainstream conference such as this. 

 Regardless, it is exciting to see old faces like Jeremy Del Rio, Phil Jackson, Adam Durso and Efrem Smith up on the stage. I will be watching most of the sessions via a live feed and will share my thoughts on the main speaker sessions.

I am particularly excited to see what Donald Miller has to say…as you know, his works have made an enormous impact in my own life and I have heard some of him here via the Veritas Forum resource site…I wonder what he will bring to a youth audience. My main buddy Jeremy Del Rio will do a talk on “Activism: From Fellowship Hall to Full-Contact Faith.”

I look forward to this opportunity and to jumpstart some discussion on the blog…