The Everything Must Change Tour (Part 2)

In Part 1, I tried to summarize some of this past weekend’s Everything Must Change Tour with Brian McLaren, which took place in Dallas on Friday and Saturday. In Part 2 I’m going to give more of my own personal reaction to the conference.

The Overall Message

Regarding the message of the conference, I’m completely onboard. I’ve read Everything Must Change twice now and I’ve really bought into McLaren’s line of thinking. (If you haven’t read the book or heard about the book, basically, McLaren is proposing that Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God should deeply impact the way we as Christian’s think about and act on the world’s biggest problems. You can read a great summary of the book at Mark’s blog.) However, having read the book twice before the conference actually made the conference less exciting for me. I must say I was slightly disappointed that much of McLaren’s talks were summaries of portions of the book. I probably should have expected this but I really would have loved for the conference to have focused on how to respond to the message in the book. With that being said, I did really enjoy the sessions and I thought they were excellent. They just didn’t impact me as much as I would have liked because I was already quite familiar with much of the material. This isn’t really a complaint – just a little bit of a personal disappointment.

The Format and Tone

McLaren and his fellow Deep Shift cohorts definitely worked hard to create an event that went well beyond mere intellectual discussion. There was considerable music, liturgy, art, personal interaction, and times for reflection built into the conference. This was great. Personally, I didn’t connect with the music very much, but that is probably primarily due to my own issues. I could tell that the music leaders and McLaren were wanting to move past typical worship music. While I appreciated this, I still didn’t quite connect. However, I did really connect with a lot of the liturgical aspects of the event and the artistic portions. These aspects of the event really added to the overall impact of the message. I appreciate the thoughtfulness and time that obviously went into planning the integration of these various elements.

The Communal Element

Because much of the information presented during the event was very familiar to me, I was especially glad that I was able to connect with various individuals at the event and meet a number of new people. This probably was the highlight of the weekend for me. To all who I met and connected with this weekend, I hope we can stay in touch and be resources for one another.

One note regarding the audience present at the event. I was really surprised that the audience was much older on average than I would have expected. Perhaps this was because there were a number of people present from the host church…? I don’t know, but it did make for an interesting community of people present for the conference. In addition, my impression was that many of the people present were there to explore McLaren and his ideas, rather than already having bought into his message. I don’t mean this in a positive or negative way, I just thought it was interesting.

Overall Impression

In conclusion, I’m really glad we were able to go to the conference. However, even though I know Brian did not intend this, I did come away overwhelmed and even slightly dejected. The material in the first two sessions is really overwhelming and disturbing. I would have liked more help with how to respond to the message. This isn’t so much a criticism as it is a desire for more. I feel like we needed more time to work through helping each other think about how to integrate the message into our lives in productive ways. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate McLaren’s call to believe the message (and disbelieve the suicidal system) as the first step. I guess I’m just wanting help in moving beyond just believing into real action.

All of this is actually something I was thinking about even before going to the conference. The week before the event I reread Everything Must Change and was really struck by the need for practical help. I do not mean this in the “five steps to change the world” sense that Brian was really trying to avoid. Rather, I think it would be very beneficial for a book to be written (or something like that) that would give some very practical examples of ways people are living the change in their own lives. It wouldn’t have to be big things. In fact, I prefer small things. Small things that average normal people like you and me can begin to integrate into our lives. I think this would be helpful to many people. There were actually a number of people I talked to at the event who expressed being overwhelmed and/or even depressed after hearing the first couple messages. This was certainly not McLaren’s intention but I think it is evidence of a deadened imagination among many Christians in today’s world – this is certainly the case for me. I think many of us have been going along in the suicidal system of this world for so long, and with such a lack of attention and concern for the world, that we have little creative imagination for seeing what change might look like in our own lives, and in the world. This is what I am thinking about more than anything after this weekend. I’m even wondering if there is something I can do about it, something I can work on to help with this situation – not just for my benefit but for the benefit of others as well. In fact, I think this fits perfectly with Brian’s desire to inspire a hopeful revolution. I want to be a part of this. The time is now. In fact, perhaps some of these thoughts I just expressed describe how I should move forward from here.

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3 Responses

  1. I’ll throw this out there for your consideration. On the Faith & Culture website there are TONS of articles, some of which focus on people who are currently living their faith to impact their culture. These articles do not focus on fighting the suicidal system that McLaren speaks about, but they do focus on people who are creatively and actively working in their community to spread the Good News of Jesus (which I think would be mostly in line with McLaren’s message). That’s been one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most in reading some of these–the myriad ways people have found to get out there and DO. I’ve been inspired and thought you might be too. Here’s a link: http://www.christianvisionproject.com/ You may have to search through a few before you find what you’re looking for, but I read this one recently and thought it was great. Not necessarily for us here in Waco, but maybe. http://www.christianvisionproject.com/2006/11/redeeming_a_needy_neighborhood.html

  2. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Adam. And I’m with you on wanting to move beyond the first step. I don’t want to have to wait for his next book.

  3. Great summary Adam. And you’ll be glad to hear that my wife is currently working on a book with IVP tentativel titled “Everyday Justice” which will be about how to live the change in the small, ordinary aspects of everyday life. Keep an eye out sometime in ’09. :)

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