I have mixed emotions about times like these. I love the adventure of being a jet setter, but I hate the inconsistency of it. I love the new experiences I get to have, but I hate missing out on my normal, wonderful routine. I love meeting new people, but I hate not seeing my friends for so long. You get the picture.
The good news is this: I had a great time, I got to turn another state green on my travel map, and now I'm back home to catch up on life and try to create a new normal based on all I was exposed to over the last two weekends.
My primary purpose in attending these conferences is to share about the ministry of Living Bread with attendees. But one of the perks is that I get to sit in on some of the sessions and have my own life challenged, too.
Conference numero uno was The Justice Conference in Philly. This conference is all about social justice, and the theme for 2013 (and since it was in Philadelphia) was "Justice and Liberty for All." This is a very trendy topic in our culture right now, so the conference was attended by lots of people from lots of different backgrounds with lots of different stories but with a common goal - advancing justice around the world. A couple quotations from Justice Conference founder Ken Wytsma that resonated with me were:
When you learn about justice, you're studying God. When you're studying God, you learn about justice.
Just because we can't fix the world doesn't mean that we can't change it.
The second conference (the one from which I just returned) was Verge13 in Austin. This one challenged me a little more than Justice because it focused on something that's a little bit closer to my heart: discipleship. The theme was disciple making, and each speaker shared about some facet of this key element of Christ-following. Because that's what Christ-following is: being a disciple of Christ.
I have long been a proponent of discipleship - having intentional relationships with someone older (who can disciple you) and someone younger (who you can disciple) - but this weekend challenged my thinking on the topic as a whole and how I live it out day-by-day and week-by-week. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me this weekend:
The consequences of casual, cultural Christianity are eternally tragic. - David Platt
We are all making disciples. Are we making disciples of Christ? - Jeff Vanderstelt
The key to the health and sustainability of the church is not more evangelism but discipleship. - Alan Hirsch
I'm still processing a lot of the information overload I experienced over the last several days, so I'm sure these will be topics of further discussion, but I just wanted to get an initial reaction down in writing. I'm so thankful to live and work in an environment that is so conducive to being challenged and grown as a result.