Ok. So as of right now, my beautiful wife Stephanie and I are planning on going up to Minnesota this October to this year’s “Desiring God” conference. The theme is called “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.” If you’re interested in taking a road trip this Fall, we might be interested in carpooling with some good people!
But before I give a couple of reasons why I’m going to do my best to make this trip happen, let me explain what isn’t motivating me:
1) Calvinism. In one sense, I don’t really care about that aspect of Piper’s personal beliefs that much. I’m not a 5-point Calvinist, which I’ve been told by some friends who are probably earnestly praying for a TULIP-ian breakthrough in my life means I’m not a Calvinist; I think that the Biblical portrait of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is deeper, richer, and more mysteriously woven than 5 small points can communicate, whether they’re 5 points of Arminius or of Calvin. Maybe I’ll elaborate more on this in a future post, but I haven’t jumped on the YRR bandwagon, though I like a few of their authors and agree with some of their critiques of evangelicalism at large.
2) Conference-centered spirituality. You might think based on the large number of conferences and events we Christians do that there was a chapter in Romans or a paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount dedicated to the topic. But there’s not. It’s good to gather with other Christians, to worship together, and to hear from God’s Word. But isn’t that kind of what we already do every week when our churches gather? I’m looking forward to seeing the missional thinking grab hold of conferences, which still seem stuck in the attractional mentality, ironically even including the “Missional” Conferences. That’s probably deserving of a future post as well! I don’t think that by attending this conference, my holiness meter will ratchet up to 11 or that I’ll suddenly find some new and secret trick concerning God. Sometimes well-meaning Christians advertise conferences that way, but it just ain’t true.
Ok, so if those are the things not motivating me to go, I’ll give some things that I am looking forward to.
1. Books. I’ve seen photos of the exhibit-hall sized book stores at some of these conferences. I look forward to drooling over some books, even if I’m checking the prices on Amazon on my phone before I buy!
2. Seeing John Piper. Despite my earlier caveat above, I really appreciate a lot of things Piper has written over the years. I just recently re-read “Desiring God” which began a process of spiritual shaping for me when I first read it as a 16 year-old. Very helpful for moving me out of the “try hard and fail constantly” spirituality my revivalistic background had instilled in me. I love Piper’s heart for missions especially and his challenge to young people to not waste their lives on the American dream. We need more of that.
3. Watching the Rick Warren/John Piper discussion. Seriously. That might be the 2nd best thing to everyone’s dream of seeing Piper and N.T. Wright having a discussion. (Appreciating various aspects of both those men’s writings, I would love to see that one. I would like to see not so much a debate, like the ETS event that Piper dropped out of for his sabbatical, but a discussion by them on their commonalities and differences.) But there honestly might be protests and boos when Warren shows up on stage. It’ll be like pro-wrestling, and I think it will be interesting to say the least.
4. Islam. One of the sessions is on “Confronting Islam with the Mind of Christ”. Reaching Muslims with the Gospel is something very dear to my heart and I look forward to this talk and the discussions it might inspire.
5. Francis Chan. To me, Chan seems like one of those guys who is serious about obeying Jesus even at great discomfort. His books Crazy Love and The Forgotten God both carry this theme heavily. And he seems like the kind of guy who may totally disrupt the flow of the conference.
6. The Mighty Ducks. Lol. I always wanted to visit Minnesota since I watched the original Mighty Ducks VHS 15,000 times as a kid. I did once on a high school basketball trip, but it was January and we stayed on campus at some dinky Christian college so not really what I was hoping for. An early October trip though sounds pretty good.
I think that’s about it. O, and I need to get out of Missouri and visit a new city that isn’t St. Louis, Omaha, or Branson. If you’re interested in a fun road trip up I-35 from KC, let me know!