What’s a little conspiracy among friends? A Relevance LEAD wrap-up

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.

20120224-012617.jpgThe 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?20120224-012441.jpg

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.

About expatminister

Aren't we what we repeatedly love? My wife, being GeekDad to the 4 superkids, United Methodist pastoring, Texas, science fiction and other nerdy pursuits, words (speaking, listening, writing, reading), Britain, music, camping, tech, baseball, practicing theology. Jesus. Coffee.


  1. You ask the right question, Josh– What would General Conference look like if we were talking about our “conspiracies of discipling people” or “being disciples on the mission of Jesus” in the world– already in progress?

    Well, a good bit more like early Methodist conferences than now, to be sure. Though I have to say, I actually think much, much better. Those earliest conferences, after all, were really fairly dominated by John Wesley asking and then answering his own questions.

    What you’re talking about is actual, real life holy conferencing– and no doubt powerful testimony to what God is actually doing in our midst rather than endless arguing and politicking over how we want to try to exercise our “voice” to control our own pet areas of our commonlife and structures in the denomination.

    I keep proposing to the General Conference Commission folk I know this radical, but simple, idea. Stop doing legislation every four years. Do legislation just every eight. Between legislative sessions, do 10 days or real conferencing on just two or three major things we really need to learn or give witness to about how we’re discipling people in the way of Jesus in our various global contexts. No legislation at all allowed those times– just holy conferencing.

    And maybe, after we’ve lived those questions and testimonies together for another four years, maybe then we might have something actually useful to legislate about.

    And even more– maybe instead of thinking about the rhythm as “Holy Conferencing interrupting or delaying legislation” it might be “legislation interrupting Holy Conferencing.”

    Peace to one and all…

    Taylor Burton-Edwards

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