I’m a bit behind getting up a brief report on my time in San Diego at the National Pastor’s Convention. The NPC is a mix of young pastors and older pastors, a mix of concerns for both, and a whole lot of getting to see folks I love to see. And I thought I’d focus on the folks. Everyone I talked to really enjoyed this year’s NPC. Thanks to John Raymond, who has his finger on the pulse of the church as well as anyone I know.
But, first, a brief on my sessions:
I was asked to do a session on spiritual disciplines, and I chose to present the stronger side of my book on fasting (Fasting: The Ancient Practices
). The book presents fasting as “body talk” and so I look at each kind of fasting in the Bible and Church’s traditions through the image of the body talking: so I look at repentance from sin fasting as “body turning,” etc.. But one of my themes is that fasting has been lifted from its biblical themes and distorted. How so? It has become a means or instrument to get something, namely inner spirituality. My contention is that the Bible’s emphasis is not on fasting as an instrument (which becomes manipulative at times) but a response to a sacred moment. So, I focused on this point and pushed the theme hard to generate a conversation, and I was pleased with the responses and conversation. Well, then I did a session on women in ministry from The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
And I was part of a panel with Brian McLaren, Don Golden, Efrem Smith, and Shane Claiborne on Christianity and empire. There was so much overlap with our views that there were no fireworks, and I tried to ask some questions that I thought would generate difference but, alas, we’re mostly on the same page. It was a great time.
One of the most important meetings I had was with the early core group that is organizing and working together on missional evangelism, and so we met one evening for a few hours — and had some very good discussion about what we dream about and hope for our group. (We will soon be making an announcement about this group.)
I had breakfast with my friend Jim Martin, a wonderful pastor and blogger from Waco. We have so much in common I feel at times we must have grown up together. (But it might be our age.) Then I spent time with Dan Kimball to chat about our concerns, and Andrew Marin who is one of the leading edge creators of ministry with gays and lesbians and now the author of a book about to come out (more on that in the future). I met with Jim Belcher, who has also written a third way book that will be published by IVP. Dana Ames, a blog friend, and I shared some coffee and then she played a wonderful piano song about evening .. and I can’t remember the musician or name but I remember it made me think of how much Kris and I enjoy evenings in Italy. I had lunch with Andy LaPeau and Andrew Bronson from IVP and we had a good chat about empire stuff going on in biblical studies today.
Did I mention how nice it is to be in San Diego, under the sun, in the middle of Chicago’s bleak winter?