Breakforth 2008

Posted: January 29, 2008 in church, faith, life
Tags: , , , , , ,

breakforth.jpgWell I’m sitting here at the conference and it’s been kind of a mixed bag.  It has offered some of the best and some of the most mundane that christianity has to offer.  The best has sent a chill down my spine while the rest has put a chill in my bones.  For those me you who have been living in Plato’s cave, our culture has been going through a major shift over the past couple decades from a modern judeo-christian society to a post modern post-christian one.  Whether you like it or not the days of the cleavers and apple pie have come and gone.

Listening to emerging speakers like Erwin McManus and Chris Seay energized me and refreshed me in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time.  I’ve returned to Swiftyvillerton with a renewed energy and vision for the ministry here and I’m excited to see what God has for us in the future.  I won’t go into the details of these grand schemes yet, but in time I shall reveal the convoluted machinations of my maniacal ministry mind.  These two speakers helped to confirm to me that much of what I’ve been thinking about church, ministry, and our relationship to our culture is at the very least not crazy talk and that at best I may well be on the right path and helping others along the right path too.

 On the other hand though there were other speakers/musicians at the conference this weekend that I found pretty discouraging because, to me at least, the represent much of what’s wrong with the Western church and what keeps it from being fruitful in Western society.  Please do not take this as a dismissal of their work, because I still believe that God can work through anyone and anything, but I do think that speakers like Lee Strobel and Paul Baloche may do as much harm to the church in our culture as they do good.  I have no doubt that Lee Strobel is a wonderful man with the best of intentions and he does have an audience who really enjoys his apologetic works.  In our post-modern society though, people are not interested in being argued into the kingdom of God.  His “four irrefutable proofs of the death, resurrection, and deity of Christ” are nice enough to give Christian audiences comfort in their faith, but they are not going to bring people of the new generation to faith.  People aren’t interested in being proved wrong.  Chances are the minute you break out your four irrefutable facts they will break out their two irremovable earplugs.  People want proof of Christ through the lives of his people, not through the proofs of their logic.  It’s important that our faith is reasonable but reason alone won’t win people for Christ.  Similarly, Paul Baloche is a big name in “worship music” but his performance left a lot to be desired.  Not because it wasn’t musically excellent, but because it was exactly that: a performance.  He did an hour and a quarter set, which included all of about 5-7 songs.  I don’t think I’d ever been a part of a worship service that was focused so blatently on emotionalism.  I’m pretty sure that there were times we repeated a given four to six line chorus for at least five to ten minutes.  It seemed that the actual lyrics and content of what was being a sung took a total backseat – if not a trunk ride – to the pure emotional response to the music in his mind.  It was pretty frustrating.

Anyways, like I said, the conference was a little bit of a mixed bag, but all in all I’m glad I went.  I really enjoyed what I enjoyed and I survived what rubbed me the wrong way.  Either way, I’ll be back next year looking forward to learning what God has for me next.

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Comments
  1. Jonster says:

    Glad you enjoyed the breaking-forth – but next time you come up my way, make sure you let me know ahead of time! I could have darted in and bought you supper…
    Quite a few people from our church went in for the conference – for a brief moment, I too entertained going, but I think that I’ve just had enough of conferences for a while – mostly because of the “mixed bag” issues you spoke of. The stuff the Alliance puts on is usually pretty good though, largely due to the conversation company, so I make a point of attending the general/district assemblies – and Leadership summit on a hit and miss basis too – but for the most part I seem to have resorted to reading for the learning/inspiration I need… much less travel involved.
    Glad you made it home safe though.

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  2. bradmoffatt says:

    Sorry I couldn’t connect while you graced cowtown for a moment. I thought of phoning you at 10pm but you’re a father now and your getting old – so I assumed you’d be snuggled under your blankey. I would have loved to grab a coffee – next time!
    I’m finding that conferences have been put on the back burner of my life lately. I don’t mind the experience but I don’t like the emotionalism you talked about. I have found that many speakers don’t touch my context because they are in a totally different situation and church experience. Speakers in venues like Breakforth tend to be more motivational speakers … which isn’t bad if that’s what I need at the time.
    Regarding Lee Strobel – I fully agree with you. The best reference I’ve heard lately pertaining to “reaching” adults in our post-Christian age is a sermon series Andy Stanley spoke called “simple”. Other than the fact I have a man crush on the guy, I think what he has to say is simple but profound. Check it out at northpoint.org.
    It’s nice to see you back on the blog – I was beginning to think that you’ve been stuck in the lectionary for three weeks now 🙂

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  3. colin says:

    Ha! irremovable earplugs – love it!

    Since I’m one of those post-christian people, I’d clarify a few things. It’s not that we aren’t open to your arguments and logic. The problem is that we see them as rhetorical and circular. These kinds of arguments (usually) depend on the accuracy of the biblical account, or some philosophical wormhole that doesn’t really mean much of anything. We are willing to entertain arguments, but they need to be grounded on verifiable, reproducible and observable evidence. Not religious techno-babble.

    But you are right. Your life as an example is a strong argument. It isn’t an argument for your particular tenants of faith or religious conviction. Rather it is an argument for your faith community and your life values. Both of which are valuable offerings.

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