Why I Want To Go To Verge 2012
When I started The Journey in June I knew that I was going to be starting a church that was different. I knew that I did not want to plant a "service;" I really wanted to plant a "movement." Now, I confess that I stole that idea from Alan Hirsch who spoke those very words at another Conference that I attended in the Spring of 2011 that I will not specifically mention in this post because I am trying to promote THE VERGE CONFERENCE 2012 so that I can win a free trip to Austin and an opportunity to learn more about how to lead my new church in the direction that I believe God wants us to go.
In all seriousness, I felt very strongly that The Journey was to be a people movement in our city, taking the Gospel to the people and striving for creative ways of being the church in a variety of locations and in a variety of creative ways.
I am indebted to The Verge Network and to many of the leaders within the network for their books, videos, blogs etc. which have inspired me, stretched me, challenged me and empowered me to move forward in to the unchartered waters of incarnational, risky mission.
I have had the dates for Verge 2012 on my calendar since it was initially announced and have been excited about the opportunity to attend. Unfortunately as a new church plant pastor, the funding is simply not available for me to afford the cost of registration and lodging.
As I have shared many times on this blog, I am convinced that the church must create new and innovative ways of presenting the gospel in this post-Christendom world in which we live. We have to look at the statistics and understand that simply talking about the "death" of the church is not going to do anything about the eventual demise; we have to take action and figure out what the church has to do to become all that God intends her to be for this broken world. I believe that the Verge Network is the most influential voice for the missional movement on the planet (and I'm not just blowing smoke here ... but whatever works ...) I think for me, an opportunity to sit under the teaching of the leaders that the network has lined up to speak at this year's conference would be invaluable.
The honest truth is that trying to plant a church that goes against the grain of traditional church planting models is difficult to say the least. There is very little support and encouragement, and there is a great deal of pull to simply jump on the status quo boat and simply do things that way they've always been done. I need to be reenergized, reinspired and reminded that the picture of the church that God has laid upon my heart is right and true. I think that having the opportunity to attend this conference would do the trick.
The last thing I want to mention here (and I don't like playing the denominational card ... but whatever works ...) is that I am a pastor in the United Methodist Church. As many people are aware, the mainline denominations are dying a much quicker death than most. I want desperately to be a catalyst for change within our denomination. I want to be able to show our denominational leaders that there is a chance the UMC can be the kind of movement that John Wesley envisioned. We are at a crucial stage in the life of our denomination and only by God's grace will we go forward with power to impact and influence our communities with the grace and love of Christ. I believe that the key for the UMC is helping pastors and churches to better understand our need to reenvision oursleves not as an "organization" but as an "organism" an organic movement of Christ followers unleashed into our communities to be the church. I beleive in our denomination. I believe that we have the "stuff" to truly Change the World. But we have to change. And I want to be a part of helping our denomination see what that change can look like.
And if I don't get to go to Verge 2012 that may never happen.
An entire denomination hangs in the balance.
I don't want you to carry the weight of that burden for the rest of your life.
I leave it in your hands ...