I’ve loved the first couple of sermons I’ve listened to from this year’s Passion conference. Then I came across these two articles:
My thoughts are, well…firstly I hear Fischer’s heart in writing, and I don’t think he’s trying to tear down, and I applaud him for it. He acknowledges that Giglio and crew are aware of these issues and the problems with such a large, impactful and influential conference, and desire to minimise them. Critique, of ourselves and others is necessary, even while a spirit dominated by criticism is not.
I agree and disagree with his arguments, as I think he does himself, in that they’re not condemning or damning, not are they entirely applicable for every person. I think I’ve come to a stage of maturity and distance that I realise that there’s a high associated with such camps and conferences, and a subsequent ‘coming down’ that happens fast when you’re faced with being back in your ‘real world.’ Knowing that going in, realistically planning or intending to apply what you learn and what He does in you while you’re away when you cone back down to earth is a critical skill I the Christian life. It happens to me from my devotional time to the daily grind – it’s easy to lose or forget that you’re trying to be holy or work on this or that when you just got pooped on. That’s why we need God to change our insides, and we need some self control, not just excitement.
Like Francis pleads for frequently, we need to read the Bible and spend time in prayer with God *ourselves* rather than rely on him or other speakers/conferences/books/church programs to mediate and be that relationship for us. And therein lies the irony – we can knock big-name celebrities like Francis Chan and John Piper, but, they’re spot on with a lot of what they say a lot of the time. Chan has deliberately left the limelight (somewhat) and left his pastorate so he could focus on relational discipleship rather than managerial/organisational pastoring, and from what I’ve seen attempts to live out what he preaches. Let’s not put them on a pedestal, let’s test their speech and action against the Word we read for ourselves, but let’s pay attention and learn from them too. We should return to reliably good teaching where we find it. If Paul the apostle was here, he’d probably be agreeing, and urge us to pay him the same qualified and cautious attention (let’s face it, not all of his letters or words are in our Bible, he was a man, not Jesus 2.0).
However, the issues Fischer raises and important and relevant. Consumerism and semi-idolatry of people and events are not good and have to be guarded against.
That said – I’d love, God-willing, to go and maybe take a group from the DFW area next year. We could get to know and encourage eachother on the ride down, camp or stay somewhere together, and continue encouraging and urging eachother on when we get back. That for me was always the most beneficial (aside from anything He did) element of camps and conferences – the relationships and the community that could continue after the event and keep you grounded and reminded of your altered life post-event (ie the same function and people as the church body post-conversion).