What was I thinking? A few weeks ago I came upon a FB friend's post advertising Unleashed Conference: a conference for church leaders about culture and the rethinking church. I immediately wanted to go.
But why? I'm not a church leader.... I'm hardly a church volunteer!
Yet I'm strangely drawn to church stuff: The history of church, church movements, culture, future of church. It fascinates me. I hardly understand it. In fact, I don't understand it. How can this be? I don't like things I can't understand!
When I found out the price of the conference, the date and time, I knew I had to go. I talked to a few other moms who also were interested in going but couldn't. One bravely decided to join me, even before I told her who was speaking or what it was about. (She's crazy like that)
My only reservation was the fact that it was for church LEADERS. My friend Maxine is most definitely a leader but she's not officially involved in church leadership, and I am most definitely NOT a leader and involved in nothing..... would it be okay for us to attend? Would we find it enjoyable or valuable? Would we even be welcome there?
After a quick question to the organizer I was encouraged to attend. Possibly they just wanted my money but I did not care; I so looked forward to going! The speakers that would be there I had heard about: Ray Johnston, Nancy Ortenberg, and Reggie McNeal. I'd read 2 books by Reggie McNeal and books by Nancy's husband, John Ortenberg and I thought it would be fun to hear them speak.
Overall, I really enjoyed the conference except it was too short! The time flew by so quickly. I think I needed all day or even several days to listen to the speakers; as I'd love to hear more. Nancy Ortenberg said some things that really resonated with me, even though she was addressing leadership. Ray Johnston spoke on Nehemiah; on momentum, vision and passion. And Reggie McNeal was perhaps the most humorous and interesting of the bunch. I had read his book The Present Future several months ago, and while I enjoyed much of it, some caused me to pause and question. It turns out that 2 others from my church were also there, and they were also excited about Reggies' message about church not being a "what" but a "who". Reggie truly surprised me; I did not "get" that he so funny through reading his books. (really; he's quite humorous!)
I'm too tired to address all my thoughts and I will say that I enjoyed and was challenged by all 3 of the speakers. Most surprising for me was the fact that I did not feel out of place. Perhaps it was because I had a friend with me; perhaps I just knew that no one could tell I wasn't a church leader. Or perhaps I simply did not care and was there to learn and glean as much as I could from the speakers. Regardless, it still surprised me the freedom, comfort and enjoyment I felt being there.
I'm still processing my thoughts and if I embarked on stating what I learned there it would take too long. Perhaps another blog post.
The Incidentals: Unleashed was amazingly well run, staffed with friendly people, lots of coffee and donuts. Lunch was burritos by Chipotle, complete with chips and salsa. The best part of the incidentals? DIET COKE!! (not Pepsi) and WiFi that I did not even need to sign in to.
I just might become a Church conference junkie; I love this stuff.