Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Over the last few weeks, Methodists have gathered for what we call Annual Conference. Our churches are organized geographically by Conferences, so every year we (laypersons and clergy) convene with the bishop and our episcopal leadership for worship, ordination, polity matters, and the like. Good things happen at Annual Conference.

But today I'm thinking of the early Methodists and how conference was first a verb, then a noun. Christian Conferencing, as they called it, was a means of grace - a channel we could count on for experiencing God and growing in the faith.
Conference now brings to mind an event where we gather to purchase goods (information, etc) from professionals (leadership gurus, pastors) in order to better do our work. And, who wakes up in the morning excited about spending the day in a conference room?

What might it look like to recover conferencing as a verb, as a way of life? Actually, it probably doesn't need recovering at all, as I suspect it is alive and well - tucked away in unlikely places all over the world. Bankers and lumber yard workers, mothers and roofers, CPA's and persons with mental disabilities no doubt gather quietly to listen for the sometimes-not-so-quiet voice of the Holy Spirit in the lives of one another.

When and how will Christian leaders recover conferencing as a stable and predictable means of grace? When and how will doctrine live and breathe in our dialogue and doxology? When and how will we depend on holy conversation like we depend on prayer?

Surely the prototype of all Christian Conferencing is here. And this gives me hope as we strive to gather "all in one place" - pleasantly haunted by the memory of fire laden tongues.