After doing a little digging, I discovered it was a Christian women's conference. My little red Vanderbilt flags start going up, because clearly this can't be that great. It appeals to the masses. It uses several speakers and concerts and *gasp* ALTAR CALLS! Oh this can't be good at all! I finally stop skimming and actually start reading. And I come across the statement of faith for this group. And there isn't really anything that jumps out at me that I just cannot agree with or endorse. And so I start to consider the idea of going. It seems like the kind of thing the women of my church could really get on board with and it might be really helpful in my ministry to them.
And then, the thought that I have been trying so desperately to force back pops into my head - I think I would enjoy this!
Oh no! What have I done? I can't enjoy this! I might be able to tolerate it or learn from it, but enjoy it? I'm educated! I'm a theologian! I'm supposed to know better! How dare I say I might enjoy something like this!
About 5 years ago, I probably would have been all over this. I wouldn't have thought twice. I would have marked it on my calendar, saved my money, and made it happen. But the more my life has been taken over by theology, the less it seems to have been influenced by faith. On the one hand, I feel like I am a better person for knowing what I do. But deep down, the biggest reason I value my academic education about contextual and historical understandings of theology is to refute bullies. I don't like mean people. I don't care why you're being mean, I don't see any reason for it and I don't like it. I especially don't like it if you are attempting to use someone's weakness to beat up on them.
But this group, this conference, does not seem to be preying on weakness. Instead, it appears to be more focused around empowerment. Sure, it's more about inspiration than education. But is that really such a bad thing? If it weren't for the inspiration, the encouragement, and the affirmation in my life I never would have had any desire for the education. I think about the things I object to at events like this - they're intense and emotional and have a lot of psychological influence that comes from these enormous groups. None of those are the ideal situation for making life-changing decisions.
Except, that's exactly when these types of decisions are made. I think about my years at Camp Sumatanga. I think about all the tears I shed and all the prayers I prayed. And I think about all the decisions that I made. Many of them were life-changing. And I think about the decisions I am going to have to make about my life, my faith, and my ministry as the years go on. And they will be life-changing too. And I have no doubt that the process of making those decisions will be difficult, emotional, and involve the input of a number of people. So what makes them so different?
Serving in a small, local church that is much more laid back in its worship has brought me down from my Ivory Tower. Interacting with these amazing people on a daily basis has taught me a lot along the way. And I think it's finally time for me to dismount my academic high horse and get back to what it is I'm supposed to be doing.
Making Disciples and Loving my Neighbor.
Yup, I can do that! I might even have a little fun in the process. Who knows? Maybe there is even an extraordinary woman inside of me!