If I was Jon Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like, this would be my entry of the day, but since I’m not Jon, you get this thinly veiled rip-off instead (very thin, since I’m telling you what I’m doing).
I was super excited to finally get to speak with some of my favorite pastors, in particular Francis Chan. I was briefly caught off guard by the entrance fee they were charging to join the conversation, but then I realized they probably needed to do that to make sure too many people didn’t join the conversation. Likewise, the fee to enter the conversation was similar to the cost of one of those impersonal church leadership conferences. So, I gladly paid the fee to get to converse with Francis Chan.
Months later, the day came to converse with the Chan. I found a seat, and waited for him to take the stage. Within minutes he stepped out on stage, and it began!
To be honest, it was a bit of a one-sided conversation. Every time I would respond to something he said, the other 1,000 people participating in the conversation would give me a funny look. Come to think of it, all of us were heavily discouraged from speaking whenever he was talking, and he probably went for a good 45 minutes straight. When he finally finished talking, we were encouraged to take a 10 minute bathroom break before the “conversation” continued. After the break, a new person stepped up on stage and started talking from up front. Once again, I got funny looks when I responded with anything other than laughter at his jokes.
While not perfect conversations, what I really like about these “conversation” events is that they’re far more relational than church conferences. For part of my honeymoon, my wife and I attended the Passion Conference, which Francis Chan happened to be speaking at. It was a great event, but my one big complaint is that I didn’t get an opportunity to talk to any of the speakers. They just stepped out onto a large stage, spoke for 45 minutes straight, and then we’d have 10 minute break before the next speaker came up. Obviously, at a conference, it’s highly frowned upon to interrupt the speaker mid-message.