I spent this past weekend at the Inaugural Missio Alliance gathering. Simply put, I loved it. I loved the people, the conversations, the location, the sessions and the town of Alexandria.
But mostly I loved the diversity of the speakers. The topic of the weekend was the “Future Gospel”. If the main stage was any indication, the “Future Gospel” is not white, middle class and male. No, the future gospel is something other than that.
Sure there were some good missional household names on the stage like Scot McKnight, Alan Hirsch, etc. But, I think its safe to say that the most powerful voices of the weekend were non-white and non-male. In fact, I would say that those “household names” were overshadowed by voices that we are not used to being in the spotlight.
Cherith Fee-Nordling literally blew me away. I would say I haven’t ever heard a woman speak with that much authority, power, and presence — but really, I haven’t heard many people speak like that before. I could have left after she spoke and had enough to think about for a year. I was (almost) moved to tears multiple times throughout her talk because she was tapping into some of the most raw parts of being human and effectively bringing them to the light of the gospel.
Of course, it was a good thing I didn’t leave. If I did I would have missed out on Howard John-Wesley’s talk about how the black church is experiencing the reality of a post-christian world in a totally different (but similar) way than the white church. We were then pleasantly surprised that his talk was followed by worship that led by his unbelievable gospel choir.
It was interesting, while the speakers at the conference were amazingly diverse – in race, ethnicity and gender – the attendees were mostly (not all) white and middle class. I don’t know what accounts for that in the attendees. I’m curious to learn more about that.
But, I will say it was significant that the white, middle class church spent a weekend under the teaching of some powerful, spirit filled black, Asian, and even Canadian(!) men and women. I do wish that the conference would have had some Latino voices on the main stage. It seems to me that the Latino/Hispanic church is a large part of the future of the gospel.
I am curious how we will look back on this past weekend. I do not know if it will end up being a significant event in the history of evangelicalism or not. I hope it is. But no matter what, it was a significant event in my own growth as a Christian and as a leader.