Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Evangelical Eccentricities: Conferences Part Deux

One of the most hilarious aspects of evangelical culture is its love of conferences. It's well established that adults love conferences. After all, conferences are sort of what adults do when it's not cool for them to go to festivals anymore. But one of the funniest things about evangelicals and conferences is the tendency of young evangelicals to conference. That's what we're exploring today.

This thought came to mind after a friend of mine and I were talking about the fall 2005 conference at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. The church is pastored by a dynamic theologian named John Piper whose passion-fueled preaching has caught the hearts of a generation of young Christians. Bethlehem puts on a fall conference that covered the topic of suffering this past fall. It was this thought of attending that had my friend Will and I rather invigorated about the conference. We excitedly discussed it, and how awesome past conferences had been, until we had worked ourselves into a little conference-based frenzy. I then stopped and asked Will if he realized how strange this conversation would be to a non-evangelical. Here we were, two twentysomethings. We both wear reasonably stylish clothes, listen to "cool" music, go to Starbucks, and do many other things that your average American twentysomething does. With the express exception, of course, that we get VERY excited about the thought of flying for three hours to freezing Minnesota to stay in an overpriced hotel and wake up at a very early hour and go hear a sixtysomething man lecture us for OVER TWO HOURS. Yes, when we pondered it together that fall day, we realized something special: we were strange. Correction: we were very strange.

And yet though we realized our strangeness, discovery did nothing to lessen our enthusiasm. As I write this, I'm looking forward to the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference being staged by a group of evangelical leaders. This conference will be no different than many other evangelical conferences, at least in its structure and general mission. It will involve middle-aged men who bury their noses in, of all things, theology books, and who then preach for very long periods of time to lots of rapt little evangelical conferencers like myself. Now, is that not a party or what? Next time you're bored at work, sit back for a moment, young evangelical, and dream of plenary lectures, breakout sessions, and bad hotel beds. Then, return to work without sadness. Your conference will come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, if you stayed at a Sheraton, you could avoid those bad hotel beds. Then again, maybe I'm biased.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who do you think you're kidding..."reasonably stylish clothes"? Yeah-

12:16 PM  

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