Lots of folks blogged, tweeted, facebooked, instagrammed, and flickred (pinned, anyone?) their way through Relevance LEAD and Relevance X last weekend, so I won’t rehash every detail. I was fortunate to be on the inside a little; helping to coordinate the social media presence — PR on the cheap — and generally pitching in to do whatever needed doing. I’ve known Rob Rynders through twitter for the last few years (we hadn’t met IRL until Thursday, though), and it was a delight to get to know him better as well as his partners in crime: Glen Simpson, Brian Kemp-Schlemmer, Anthony Tang, DJ del Rosario (and look forward to meeting Emily Earnshaw). What is happening in the Desert Southwest Conference is nothing short of amazing. It’s hands-down the best young adult event I’ve seen sponsored by an annual conference or regional judicatory…and I’ve seen a few.
The LEAD portion of the event was brand new in 2012. But they brought together some fabulous people. It doesn’t hurt that I already knew a few–some I went to seminary with & therefore knew they were already rock stars (Kate Meacham, Cathy Boothe, & Narcie Jeter!) but also folks from online connections like Brandon Lazarus, April Casperson, and Matt Franks. Through Refresh & UNCO, I knew that what really makes a conference is the people attending, & LEAD didn’t disappoint. I was rocked not only by the presentations but also by the sidebar conversations I found happening all over the place. You couldn’t grab lunch or take a break without wandering into an excellent conversation about theology, contextual challenges, or science fiction.
Okay, nerd break over. I’m a big fan of the people, obviously, but the format was also genius. The TED model of serial short, succinct, big-idea talks has proven quite successful in the entertechsign world, and worked at LEAD. But it’s also quite reproducible in a variety of different contexts. Annual Conferences, Jurisdictions, metropolitan areas, extension ministry networks, and more could put on their own versions of LEAD. What would it look like to invite young adults in your networks together to share the ideas that are already in place in their lives, that they are already innovating and collaborating on? What would General Conference look like built around some of these ideas?
Well, I don’t entertain grand ideas of restructuring the general church…it’s the impact that these conversations might be having that are the most exciting. I’m more interested in the little faithful subversive movements that are happening in my backyard, and those that are being cultivated and fertilized by my friends. LEAD gave us the opportunity to hear from each other, to cross-pollinate and to pioneer new forms of church that don’t exist quite yet. Whether or not the church follows Dan Dick’s advice or not, we’ll be conspiring right here–doing the things that make a real difference. Making disciples. Transforming the world.