As I look back at the Indiana United Methodist Church Annual Conference, I find myself pondering a number of things. Overall, it was a wonderful gathering. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
– Bob Farr says a lot of great things, loudly! It is my hope that those who were cheering on Farr were really listening and responding to the content rather than his contagious enthusiasm. If churches can consider and put into action some of the things Farr spoke about, good things will come!
– The best things happen around the table with friends and colleagues. On Thursday evening, I was able to gather with friends, both laity and clergy, to talk, connect, and have some fun. We talked about the conference, church, and life in general. It was fun and refreshing. On Friday, a group gathered at Tow Yard Brewing. Again, it was fun and refreshing. That day, I sat across from a colleague I greatly trust and respect. We don’t always agree theologically. However, we both love Jesus and the church and desire to see unity rather than schism. We both desire to be in ministry underneath the same umbrella. And, if more people would get together around the table, we might be able to accomplish far more than simply trying to be “right” on the floor of the conference.
– If we want to be “outwardly focused”, we need to think differently. I thought the lunch time event (“God of This City”) on Friday was fun, but a missed opportunity. If we wanted this to be an opportunity to reach beyond the conference attendee’s, we need to think about the target audience more. Here are my ideas: The food trucks are great…make them free! Would it be expensive? Yes! Would it be a display of radical hospitality and risk-taking mission and service? Absolutely! Instead of having Christian bands that no one has heard of, get the hottest cover band in Indianapolis to come and play songs our target audience will recognize. If we can’t make the food trucks free, challenge conference attendee’s to go find, invite, and pay for the meal of someone not attending conference. Challenge conference attendee’s to blanket the city with invitations the day before. Handout flyers for “free food, drinks, music”, etc.
– Bishop Mike Coyner is extremely gracious. I won’t go into details, but I will say he handled some difficult and awkward situations with grace and compassion.
– Ray Boltz is awesome! His stories and songs are powerful. Listening to him sing and speak about his journey of faith, one cannot doubt his love and passion for Jesus. And, while Ray may be getting older, his voice is amazing!!!
– Carol Boltz may be even more awesome than Ray! Her joy is evident. Her love for Jesus and all people is obvious.
– Twitter engagement was pretty low, but seemed to be an improvement over previous years. Some might say, “well, the older folks won’t use it.” I would say, “They obviously didn’t listen to Bob Farr!” We need young, middle age, and older folks to utilize the tools that are available. Maybe we should encourage every church to have a Twitter account and facebook page that is regularly updated. It would be a great way for our local churches to stay connected to events happening at AC.
– Free WiFi may be expensive to provide, but as an act of radical hospitality, it would have been greatly appreciated. Maybe a reason why Twitter engagement was low had to do with the fact that people were having to use up their data plans to post anything online. While younger generations (who probably are not paying for their own data package) may not be pushing for free WiFi (as was indicated on a Twitter exchange), aging generations (who probably are paying for their own data package) love “free”! Most of our churches provide free WiFi as an act of hospitality…so, maybe the AC should do the same?