I'm sure I will have more to say in coming weeks (I am here thru the weekend), but a few impressions:
Focus: The governing theme of the conference is The Prophet Habakkuk 2:2,
And the Lord said to me, "Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others."
The leaders are consistent on the idea that our goal is to share God's good news, not be best sellers, or celebrities, or rich.
Affirmation: I'm finding that my past editorials, devotionals and even this blog are nothing to sneeze at given the glut of written stuff out and about. I've actually done some fruitful work. In addition, some of the editors really like one of my ideas and that is a big incentive to keep working it. Good feedback.
Real live diversity: Wonderful mix of ages, men & women, races and Christian traditions present. I've met teens attempting to write fantasy or sci-fi with Christian content, a twenty-something sports writer (covered the Yankees - Jeter good guy, A-Rod not so much) with a novel ready to go, a woman who's spent the last 45 years living and ministering in El Salvador, etc. etc.
God-moments: lots of great connections to build one another up. I met one woman who grew up in a military family and has a passion for the war's impact on soldiers, spouses and kids. I was able to link her to my USC alumni news about the new MSW specialty in military family care. Met other bloggers and we shared ideas on ways to reach readers.
Great speakers. Will probably tease out more of this from my notes later - Rusty Wright did a great workshop on using the internet for evangelism. James Perkins and Tony Campolo were the two biggest names on a superb team teaching "Justice, Compassion and Advocacy Writing." Karen Whiteing really helped me tighten up my main idea for a book, and has been nudging me with affirmation to stick with the idea.
The social justice track has been quite good. They are really trying to bridge the sad gap between Christians who talk about good deeds and those who talk about decision for Christ...
Lisa Harper (a fellow USC Trojan - Fight On!) said, "What are our evangelical roots? How have we strayed far from them and what things are bringing us back?"
James Perkins said, "Let your heart be broken by the pain that breaks God's heart, then search Scripture for it and the principles to redeem it through obedience."
Tony Campolo, a self described "politically left guy," is somewhat on the outs with conservative evangelicals and now speaks to the old mainline churches, where he says "I don't have to tell you about social justice - you just don't know how to get people to make a decision for Jesus Christ."
Rick Marschall ended his workshop on "Writing to Transform Culture" with the reminder that Bach always took his first blank composition page and wrote "Jesus help me" at the top, and after the last line of music was penned always wrote, "Glory to God alone."
There was a somewhat funny, very challenging glimpse of our time and place, presented by World Vision's Geraldine Ryerson Cruz: Last year, the American Bible Society asked people to identify the source of
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Most respondents said: President Obama. Others said Bono. Angelina Jolie and the Dalai Lama got props. Only 13% knew it was from the Bible (specifically, it is Proverbs 31:8-9).
I'll end with a great moment from this morning's worship (yes, pan-evangelical = lots of songs and a prayer). The worship leader said, "I love all of our contemporary music, but let's not lose the great hymns of the church. I think everybody knows this one..." Up on the screen came the words to "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!", and the chapel walls were vibrating as everybody sang it out.