Taking cues from other conference directors and creators, I am going into the business of creating and managing events. It should work well for me. I have put together multiple events during my life and used to be a concert promoter. In fact, I am partnering with a friend in Tampa Bay to put on next week’s Sustainable Faith conference in St. Pete featuring Shane Claiborne, Doug Pagitt and Danielle Shroyer. It should be a great event.
As I try to create my own brand of conferences I have decided to move towards absolute perfection. Too many of these conferences are trying for absolute diversity but failing miserably. Last year, friends put on such a conference in which all the speakers were women. This year, the main conference happening in a few weeks is diverse, but still over populated by men with beards (I called it the Beards of Theology event). I just received an email concerning an event in Atlanta this fall that attempts diversity. The main speakers are an African American woman, a Native American man and a white guy. This is good, but don’t women hold a higher percentage in the USA? Not, 100% like that conference I mentioned, but something like 51%-49% (I am not actually looking it up).
So, here are 2 conference ideas. The first is for progressive, emerging, Social Justice Christians. It takes a lot of work and will get me very little money since they demand everything be free or discounted (each wants an insider deal and is a poor Democrat). To make up for it, I will put on the perfect Reformed Evangelical Christian conference. I can charge a lot of money (the advantage of high salaries, big church budgets and Republicanism) with very little work.
CATYLATE or CATYL8
Location: still looking at UCC churches and seminaries in mid-major cities
11 female/ 10 male
4 African American
4 Latino (representing Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American ethnicities)
3 Asian (representing Korean and Chinese, along w/ another)
1 multi-ethnic (hopefully Jewish or Arab in there- preferable both)
1 Native American
5 will be Gay or Lesbian
10 former Evangelicals (at least 2 former Baptists, 2 former Charismatics, 3 former fundies from Liberty or a Bible college)
4 other faith traditions
Presently, as I try to determine speakers, I realize that I need some people to play multiple parts with the coupe de grace being someone representative of 3 groupings. This is harder than trying to make the seedings for the NCAA tournament.
Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about doubt and never-ending crescendos… and his girlfriend.
Each talk will be 18 minutes because TED is 20 and we want to be even better than TED. Topics include How to Be Liked by Everyone that is not a Closed Minded Fundamentalist,
What churches can learn from the spirituality and community building in dolphin communities, in a pluralistic age, why Christianity is not really superior to other religions, but kinda is, Post-Colonialism is not just a catchphrase, it actually means something,Social Media: a Force for Good or a force for Great, Open Source Theology Using a Closed Source Technology, Life After Jesus and Why Everything we Ever Learned in Church is Wrong and the TV show LOST is Right, along with a discussion of Why Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell and anyone too successful aren’t really in our camp.
Since I will undoubtedly lose money on this, unless I can get everyone to come for free and get some suckers to sponsor it,J I still need to make some bank. For that, here is the perfect Conservative, Reformed Conference.
Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours
Location: Nashville with telecasts in Louisville, Dallas, Seattle, LA and Orlando
Speakers are 10 White Men, 5 of which wear suits and 5 of which cuss and wear Ed Hardy shirts.
Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about sovereignty and reworkings of really old hymns of proper theological content all with never ending crescendos … and his pregnant wife.
Each sermon will be 45-50 minutes long, unless more time is desired. Topics will include The Primacy of Sovereignty in Theology, The Primacy of the Word Primacy in Preaching, The Primacy of Men in Relationships, The Primacy of Church Discipline, The Primacy of the Pastor’s will being done as an indication of His role as God’s Appointed, The Primacy of the Heresy of Emerging Christianity, A Discussion of the Heresy of Brian McLaren by the 10 speaker in which no one is allowed to dissent from the norm, Why Our Bible is better than yours, Why the Atonement is Not a Rose, but is a Tulip and Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything.
At Conference #2 these words will be banned from use unless used disparagingly or in a mocking tone: contextual, justice, equality, emerge (and variations), process, doubt, pluralism, LOST (the TV show), conversation/ dialogue/ discussion and Brian McLaren.
At conference #2, these words must be used by all speakers. If unused contract is rendered null and void: Primacy (at least 4X per talk), sovereign, penal substitution, discipline, Gospel (as defined by us/ and as a hammer), orthodox, lost (people), sin, preaching, elder.
At conference #1 all these word usages will be reversed.