As previously noted, I am a high school teacher. As a high school teacher, I am part of a large bureaucratic structure called the “educational system.” Previous to being a teacher, I was a youth worker and thus a part of a large bureaucratic structure called the “church.” In both places, I’ve had the chance to be a part of gatherings, retreats, and conferences. And in both places, the environment of these conferences is largely the same: good food and luxurious accommodations; charismatic speakers; discussion on innovation and change; fog machines, lights, and loud music.
We are always promised something life-changing. We leave believing in that promise. But somewhere along the way, we lose our energy and our passion. The life-changing innovation is not working and the world is largely the same. Eventually, we end up questioning whether it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors. We become, at worst, cynical and discouraged.
Contrast this with a few disciples and seekers on a hillside. There are no luxurious accommodations. There are no lights. There are no fog machines or big-screens.
The venue is free. Here, you will only find soft human voices and shared bread.
I’m always trying to figure out how to change the world (it’s on my to-do list). And what I’m realizing is that I’m not seeing a lot of “world-changing” happening in hotel ballrooms or in stuffy conference halls. I think things change when people sit together and talk softly. No agenda. No lanyards. No gimmicks. Just open space, shared bread, and authentic words.
Show me a conference like this. I’ll be the first to sign up.