The single-most common quip we heard last weekend at Break Forth’s conference was this: “Why in the world would I want to go to Edmonton in January?” Confession time: when we were invited to speak at Break Forth, that was the exact expression that came out of my mouth. Now let me tell you why folks go to Edmonton in January, in spite of the high-chance that the temperature will be way below zero Fahrenheit: Break Forth! Here’s Edmonton:
Who wants to speak up for and about Break Forth Canada?
It’s hard to know even where to begin.
Kris and I arrived Thursday evening, had a nice Italian dinner (no risotto!), and then later that night I spent a couple of hours with Erwin McManus and Eric Bryant, both at Mosaic in LA, and both involved in our new Origins Project. (Incidentally, we are amazed at the number of folks who have signed up and are continuing to sign up for The Origins Project.) We had a great time, and I was pleased to meet both and get to spend some time talking about our passions and visions. We heard Erwin preach Friday night — quite an amazing speaker. He developed the idea of God giving us imagination and developing the courage to do what God has given us the imagination to do.
I taught nine different sessions — four on Blue Parakeet, two on Embracing Grace, one on Praying with the Church, and two on Jesus Creed. It was wonderful to teach and interact with the good folks of (mostly) Western Canada. And I loved getting to do Jesus Creed stuff on Sunday morning — I turned it more into sermonic stuff. (Nice accent, heh?)
Which reminds me: one of those who were in our class — I’ll keep her name private — gave us a gift certificate to Second Cup cafe and we had some splendid coffee and bought some beans to grind and brew here in the USA. Yes, we had some Tim Horton’s. Second Cup is better. Wanna raise your stick, heh?
Kris found her way to a number of sessions, but she loved listening to Paul Young, author of The Shack, tell his own (rather battered and bruised) story as well as the against-all-odds story of how this novel became a bestseller. I believe fiction has to be treated for what it is — the imaginative attempt to put together themes and characters into a plot so that something redemptive can fall into our laps — and anyone who has listened to Paul’s story will stand back and say, “This story can be redemptive.” Paul tries to tell his kids about the God he didn’t come to know when he was reared on the mission field.
We loved the worship — I was especially taken with Brenton Brown, and I know I’m biased toward his origins in South Africa. We loved Paul Baloche, too. Others were there, including Mercy Me and Michael W. Smith. Mercy Me’s concert was too late for us, and Michael W. Smith was on Sunday night — and we were on our way back to Chicago at that time.
The event was perhaps the most inter-generational Christian event we’ve seen. Seniors to kids, events about topics for teenagers and parents and pastors and everyone else. This was not a “theme” event but an all-out Christian gathering to encourage one another to live as Christians in this world. One might call it a genuine 21st Century alternative to the 20th Century’s Bible conferences.
The organization and the hospitality were outrageously good. I have to say a big thanks to Christine and Shirley. Wow, fantastic folks. We had folks looking after us, telling us where to go next and how to get over to the Shaw Center and how to get to my classrooms and where to find the luncheon room for the speakers and guests. Extraordinary from start to finish.
Did I mention it was warmer in Edmonton than in Chicago!
Someone in the USA needs to have a Break Forth.