Last week I attended Christianity 21, an excellent and fun conference organized by the incomparable JoPa Group. It is a conference ostensibly offered for those of the (E)(e)merg(ing/ence/ent) persuasion. Whatever that means anymore.
Based on my experience at this gathering, it means something along the lines of, “smart, compassionate, diverse people who want their Christian faith to matter in tangible ways in the world, now and into the future.”
On the mainstage, 21 speakers were given 21 minutes each to offer their Big Idea for Christianity in the 21st Century. It was a hard 21 minutes too – they were truly on the clock and when time was up an ‘Applause’ screen appeared and they were done. It was even more effective than the orchestra at the Oscars.
In the near future I hope to offer deeper insights from my time at C21. But for now I thought it might be kinda fun to try a little match game. See if you can put the presenter together with her/his Big Idea. Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with any of the presenters. I didn’t know them all going in – and I heard similar thoughts from, well, from everyone I talked with at the event. Just have some fun with it!
DISCLAIMER: In my estimation, not every presenter declared a distinct “my big idea is X“. For those, I’ve done my best to represent what I heard as their big idea. For that matter, I’m sure I haven’t perfectly captured even those big ideas that were overtly declared. Any errors are mine. I ask for grace in these matters.
1. Jonathan Merritt
2. Paul Raushenbush
3. Noel Castellanos
4. Nadia Bolz-Weber
5. Kent Dobson
6. Sarah Lefton
7. Mike Foster
8. Romal Tune
9. Charles Lee
10. Phyllis Tickle
11. Sarah Bessey
12. Enuma Okoro
13. Bruce Reyes-Chow
14. Sarah Pulliam-Bailey
15. Jose Morales
16. Ani Zonneveld
17. Jamie Wright
18. Joshua Dubois
19. Sarah Cunningham
20. Tony Jones
21. Doug Pagitt
Z. A personal gospel
Y. We don’t need a new way to think about how God is, but an encounter with the God who is.
X. Christianity is so wide-spread that no country can claim to be the center of the faith.
W. People want to be loved and belong somewhere.
V. Faith embodied as a movement of innovation. Don’t argue with your words but instead with your execution.
U. Be good allies.
T. Take sacred texts and have people make things (art, apps, movies, etc.) out of them.
S. Reclaim and embrace apocalypse.
R. Remove the words “missions”, “missional”, and “missionary” from our vocabulary.
Q. I don’t know what the future of Christianity is, but I know I’m not going back.
P. Let’s recover a theology of fun; let’s “gameify” faith.
O. Spiritual connectedness: each of us can decide where we can be ‘No Man’s Land’, i.e. the middle person grabbing one hand of a person to the left of us and one hand of a person to the right of us.
N. The margins are at the center of God’s ultimate concern.
M. Do greater things than Jesus; Recognize where we’re acting like God wants sacrifice not mercy; Be friends, even with evil people; Figure out a new understanding of created order.
K. Relearning faith (in this case Islam) as a progressive movement.
J. Let’s be gangs of the Gospel.
I. Stop being professional Christians and start being disciples of Christ.
H. Seeing our lives as prophetic outposts for the way of faith
G. Embrace the hyphen.
F. Reflect on what you are doing and respond to questions.
ANSWER KEY (not squished together because I hate that; too hard for my old eyes to read. And because this is the internet not a newspaper; space isn’t an issue.)
How did you do? How many did you match correctly?
Finally, our C21 benediction from conference musician, Heatherlyn:
Maybe it might be, hopefully it’s true.