Blogging from the NPC: Day 1
We made it in plenty of time to get some food and go to the first main session. Efram Smith spoke from Ezekiel 37 (the Valley of the Dry Bones). It was hard to stay focused because I was pretty tired, but his point was that Jesus is alive(!) and that means He breathes His breath into us and makes us alive, too. One of the best comments he made was about our current political situation:
An economic bailout is simply the government putting tendons, flesh, and skin on the dry bones, but only the LORD God can breathe breath into us.
Following the session, I went to Don Everts' session on Understanding the Postmodern Skeptic's Path to Faith. It was fantastic. I really appreciated Don's relational teaching style, which was full of stories. He focused on five thresholds through which a skeptic must pass in order to come to life-saving faith in Jesus Christ.
They first have to trust a Christian, then become curious about Jesus, then be willing to change, then move from meandering to truly seeking, then finally make the decision to be a Christ-follower.
It was very freeing from a pattern that (perhaps unconsciously) stressed "sealing the deal" and led to a lot of misunderstandings about evangelism (especially how to do it in a post-Christian culture). It was a good reminder that evangelism takes a long time, if you want to do it, you've got to be in it for the long haul, and our best technique is to live out a true, vibrant, living faith in front of our skeptical friends. It was a very well done seminar.
After the seminar, we were pretty well beat, so we skipped out on Shane Claiborne's session and had a leisurely dinner. Our server was very cool and was kind of surprised that we just wanted to sit and enjoy our dinner. He doesn't see that very much. We made sure he knew we were pastors here for the NPC, and then we stiffed him on his tip and gave him a tract instead.
No, we tipped like we should, and we also told his manager what a good job he'd done. Then it was back to the hotel for some debriefing and finally beautiful sleep!