Len & Co off in Kelowna are hosting Peregrinations: An Emerging Church Forum from November 4-6, 2005. Looks like a great time; I love the format and the rumblings I hear about this upcoming event. I would also very much welcome an opportunity to sit down with emerging church folk particularly in Canada and discuss the for formation of Emergent Canada, which we have started discussing already.
I’ve been asked a few times now if I’m planning to attend, and I would dearly love to… problem is, I simply don’t have the $ to cover the travel. Time off is not an issue, the registration fee is nominal, I’ve got free accommodations if I can get there, and I think I can muster the cash for incidentals, but transport is the problem. Wendy McAlpine (Robbymac‘s better half) was the most recent person to whom I had to give the explanation. My first objection was that my wife is working that weekend, so I need to be around for the kids. “Grandparents!” she said. Not content with finances being my second “excuse” for not attending, she suggested I get people to donate Air Miles so I could make the trip. Apparently these travel points can be transferred… So just to make Wendy happy and on the off-chance it could make me happy by actually working email me if you have extra points you’d like to donate to the cause. These would need to be Air Miles brand points (where I would need 1950 points) or Aeroplan points (where it looks like I need 25,000 points, but it’s a bit hard to tell). These are the only travel reward plans for which I have memberships, but the Air Canada one (Aeroplan) lets you purchase the missing points, so cash would also work nicely. Checking the cost of simply purchasing flights via West Jet and Air Canada just now, it looks like the airfare would cost $300-500Cdn (between ~$250-425USD), with seat sales presently available on both airlines for $300Cdn ($250USD) round-trip, plus whatever taxes they pile up on top of that. Not too bad actually, it’s cheaper than the gas to drive it… unfortunately I still don’t have the extra cash for it.
Next up, I’m wondering about all those Emergent gatherings where people come from all over to attend, and wondering how everyone else accomplishes this, with higher airfaires, hotel costs and car rentals added in, and sometimes they do this more than once a year. Wow.
Lastly, this whole thing is causing me to think about the viability of a worldwide emerging church forum which would have perhaps six or eight centres worldwide where people could congregate, or else could participate online from home or from their city with five or six friends gathered. All of the plenary sessions would be broadcast live and/or time-delayed (as well as on demand from archives) over the Internet, with different speakers for these sessions speaking from whichever conference centre is closest to them geographically, and interaction would then take place online around the globe in real time and via message-board forums. Because wider participation could be facilitated, only a nominal fee would be collected to offset bandwidth costs; those attending one of the conference centres would pay an additional fee to help offset the cost of facility rental and so forth. In one way it makes me wonder how that’s much different than what we do via blogdom every day, but I think it is different enough. With this idea, we’d have a scheduled agenda and topics for presentation and discussion, and there would be a focused time period (about four days?) in which it would take place. It would have also public gatherings which interface directly with the online conversation. This is one area where we in the emerging church could try to work out solutions to facilitate worldwide gatherings or conferences that don’t require travel on a scale with which most North Americans seem at ease.
I’d love to go to Kelowna too, as the flight is the only real expense for me too (though time is tricky).
As to your last comments, re: worldwide conference, I think it is an interesting idea that deserves its own post, IMHO.
I wish I could ship you guys out.. if I win a lottery in the next few days you can come in style.
As for a worldwide conference.. I fear that the large production would partake of too many things I dislike.. marketing, branding, book sales, and big names. YOu know.. I love guys like McLaren.. but if this thing is leader driven it will become like the modern church. We need local ownership and broad participation.. and not just from those of us who talk too much.
Len – I agree. Emergent would be best used as a network for connecting local groups instead of a top-down organization structure. But we’ve beat that horse enough…
Br. Maynard, wish I could help out. If you like we can host a theology pub the same night so we can be with them in Spirit and in spirits. Get it? Spirits! I’m going back to bed.
Thanks guys. I haven’t quite given up, just watching the mail for an unexpected windfall.
Len, you’re right about the global thing needing to be kind of a nameless, faceless thing… this is the charm of your forum, it’s not geared toward hearing from the “expert.” This is the same thing I’d want to try and capture in a more global fashion…. just thinking out loud here. But I am good at talking too much.
Any possibility of podcasting the proceedings so that others can be apprised of the conversation, and add their two cents worth as the weekend progresses?
Hey Brotha! Interesting thoughts. On the “how do people do it?” thing, good question. I think part of the answer is that many of the people attending these conferences are still in the realm of professional ministry, are on staff at churches and have budgets. You notice most of these conferences take place during the week as well, further catering to a pro-ministry clientele.
I’m with Len on the international or even national conference level thing: too much going on there that really isn’t necessary and taps right back into what many of us are trying to get away from. Even before I read your comment Len, I had the term “boycot the bigshots” in mind – ha! I was a part of a “national” (I guess) conference called Mayhem a while back. Some friends and I organized it, got McLaren to come, etc. After it was over we all vowed never to do it again. There were good things about it, but ultimately if we “bought into” that national conference thing, it would be going against the grain of our relational, loco-regional philosophy.
With that in mind, I’d be in favor of encouraging things like what Len is doing in his local region, you do one where you are and where people can easily get there. Jordon does one in Saskatoon, etc. Smaller, regional, more managable and relational get-togethers are where it’s at. I really believe that. And as much as people might want to hear or shake hands with them, the big shots are really not necessary for one of these kinds of things to be “successful.” As many good things as they say in their books – anyway, I think you know what I mean – not trying to bust on anybody.
Having conversations, sharing pain and encouraging one another, and making connections that will last and act as conduits for God’s Spirit to move – these things are what we’re after it seems. I don’t think we need a large thing for that to happen. It may even rub against the grain of it from my perspective. Just putting in my 5 cents. Peace to all in this house.
Good observations on “professional” ministry (are there professional christians?) and about the national stage. I think the name “Mayhem” maybe says it all! I’ve run regional conferences before and yes, there’s good from it but I never liked the focus on the big name that gets brought in. I do really like Len’s format, which is one reason I would so much like to be there… no big-name focus, just stories from the trenches.
In suggesting something global (or simply national) I would want to look for a way of taking a regional gathering like you suggest and plugging them together in a kind of idea exchange. This could be done in an online exchange of notes from the regional gatherings, for example. Inasmuch as I am most tuned to my own region, I still want to know what’s going on in Vancouver, Portland, Toronto, Chicago, Minneapolis, Saskatoon, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and so forth. Hearing stories from around the globe keeps me up to speed and provides good viewpoints, perspectives, and ideas, it keeps me challenged, encouraged, and simply reminds me I’m not nuts (a reminder I require from time to time, regardless whether it’s true or not). These reasons make national and international connections valuable. The mere building of a platform is a waste of time not what I intended with the idea at all.
In some ways this brings me to a secondary reason I’d like to be in Kelowna… I’d like a face-to-face with a wider group about the whole Eh,mergent Canada
fiascoformation from a month ago. Len, are the LambrickEmergent Canada boys attending? We had proposed dialogue, I’d like to follow through.