Friday, February 13, 2009

Blogging From the NPC: Day 2, Post 2

The afternoon included a trip to the ocean for a run with the Runner's Club. It was fantastic. The view was beautiful, and the company was great. We ran out into the wind at an 8:30/mile pace, but when we turned around, we jacked it up to 7:30s. It was awesome. I don't usually get to to a harder workout with anyone else. Come to think of it, I don't usually get to run with anyone else at all!

I got back in time for the second half of USA-Mexico's soccer game... in Columbus, Ohio. Yes, I had to watch the game on TV. But I was extremely happy (and completely unsurprised) at the 2-0 result. I had predicted it, but that's nothing because we always seem to beat them 2-0 when we play on US soil.

In the evening, Tommy Walker led worship, and he was on fire. I seriously almost shot my voice singing "Hallelujah" to God at the top of my lungs. Something I really enjoy about being here is something I enjoy about worship at Millersport UMC; I can sing at the top of my voice, raise my hands, clap, and worship in whatever posture seems right. But Tommy Walker is a fantastic worship leader. He's got a ton of charisma, but it never seemed like it was about him at all.

Then we were treated to Rob Bell interviewing Shane Hipps, a genius who has a lot to say about the media we use to share the Gospel. His view, from an extremely high-powered advertiser's standpoint, is that the medium is the message. He got me intrigued enough to buy his book. I am interested in what he has to say about it. The one reason I don't know if I can go all out with him on this is because the message isn't merely words, our message is a Living Word...

The keynote speaker for this evening was Will Willimon. I was excited to see him and hear him speak, because I have seen him before, and he delivered a challenging, biblical message. Not to mention that he's a UMC bishop who usually has something insightful to say (and is thus a reminder to others that the UMC isn't so bad). To say that this evening's presentation was disappointing would be an extreme understatement. Not only did he disappoint, but he made me angry. Not the "This guy has different views than I do" kind of angry, but the "don't talk about my mama" kind of angry.

You see, his entire presentation was pretty much stand-up comedy blasting "the laity." And the way he said "laity" made it sound like laity was something you might find stuck to the bottom of your shoe following a nice stroll through a dog park. He just blasted away at them, going so far as to say, "Church isn't where the faithful disciples gather; it's where Jesus is crucified between thieves." He related story after story about horrible lay people. He ended up with a picture of Jesus and the thief on the cross... being the first "lay person" in heaven, and guess what: when we get to heaven, we'll have to put up with those same horrible lay people.

And then he walked off the stage.

I was so mad, because the lay people he was blasting are people who pray for me (and my family) daily. They are people who are passionate about Jesus. They are people who have welcomed me and my family to a new town and have embraced us as their friends. They are people who Jesus died for. They are the Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ, and he loves the laity. Sure, they are sinners, and certainly there are bad churches and bad situations and some of the "sheep" certainly have teeth, but in the morning session, we just got finished forgiving these very people!

At the end of the session, Ken Medema brought his unique brand of improv music. The guy is a freaking genius. He synthesizes the entire content of the session (including comedians, artists, special music, interviews, worship, and the main message) into one song, and his use of dynamics, different sounds, different styles of music is moving and soul touching.

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