Tuesday, February 13, 2007

God for People Who Hate Church - May Conference

Here's a quick little note on a conference we are going to be doing here in Salem May 4-6.

You got it right the name of the conference is:

God for People Who Hate Church

No joke! We are crazy enough to really do a conference with that title. Not only are we crazy enough to do that, but check out the line up!

Jay Bakker - Mr. One Punk Under God
Jim Henderson from Off-the-map.org
Listen to Jim
Tony Jones from Emergent Village

We will hold a few interesting sessions such as a dialogue with atheists, and another with some of our Pagan friends to learn what it is we do which offends the people we think we should be reaching.

We will hold an open dialogue about rethinking church, and hopefully find some unique ideas which excite our hearts.

There will be some late night movies on Friday and Saturday: Perhaps we'll check out Jesus Camp, or Frisbee: Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher

Maybe this is too radical for you. Maybe this is just what you are looking for. Anyway - You'll see more info later, and it will pop up on our church blog soon too.

Wanna join us for the conference?

Registration materials are coming out any day now, but for now e-mail us, and we will get the information to you by snail, or by ch-ee-tah-mail Pastor Phil Wyman at The Gathering


Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me?! That sounds like an awesome conference--and this from a guy who doesn't get excited about conferences!

SDC's_Angel said...

Sarah's been talking about Jay Bakker for months now. She's been very interested in meeting him.

Count me in. I'll have to attend when I'm not working. Pastor, this sounds like a great time for spiritual feeding.

And Happy Valentine's Day to you and your house!

Anonymous said...

Cool stuff. :)



Pastor Phil said...

Hey John,

This is "redefine conference time" for me. Fewer talking heads, bunches of involvement, and things you'd never think of on your own. ;-)

Pastor Phil said...

Happy V Day to you Karen Angel,

Well Sarah shouldd get her chance - how cool.

Pastor Phil said...


The only thing missing is you. ;-)

SDC's_Angel said...

Yes, quite cool. She is funny. Rejects and puts down Christianity, but does attend youth group entirely of her own choosing on Wed. nights with some friends. She has been saying she wants to go to FL to meet Pastor Bakker (she had no idea of his name or who he is, but described him perfectly), so it's nice she may get the opportunity.

I mentioned it to her this morning. She seems interested in that 17 year-old girl way. Hehehehe!

Pastor Phil said...

Jay is actually in New York City now. So he's even closer.

33muses said...

This sounds like like it will not only be a fascinating learning experience but also fun! Wish I could make it...

Good luck with it..

Lily said...

Dagnabit - sometimes it's inconvenient to live on the west coast.

Sounds like an awesome lineup !

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Lisa and Lily,

This should be darn fun! Wish you were closer as well.

Sonja Andrews said...

Hey Phil ... that's my b-day weekend. Can I come? Better yet ... can I help?

Colin A. Lamm said...

Frankly, I just don't get it. Sure it may be innovative . . . radical . . . exciting . . . well-intentioned . . . sincere. Perhaps this says more about me than you but is this about God, or just about the pain from past hurts taking on a life of their own?

Please forgive me if I have 'crossed the line' by asking this.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Ian (Colin),

Crossing the line is cool with me. I figure we don't do enough of it as Christians.

Okay let me think through this.."it may be innovative...radical...exciting...well-intentioned...sincere" - and you still have a problem with it?

My assumption is that well-intentioned, and sincere will also avoid being just a retrieval, or a self-vindication of hurts. I suppose I should ask a question in return: Why is it that when someone uses the negative experiences of the their past, and uses them as a means to minister to those who have experienced the same struggles (a la 2 Cor. 1) that people rise up to challenge it as being unresolved past hurts? Is the Lutheran Church, Methodism, Presbyterianism, or the Emergent Conversation simply unresolved past hurts? It may well take generations for us to see the fruit of the difference between true redemptive revolution, and simple pained rebellion. Those who disagree with the methods, or styles, or theologies will generally see it as rebellion. Those who agree will generally see it as revolution. Those who are wise wait and listen, and look, and watch truth unveil itself.

For myself, our church, and people outside our church who we minister to in our city: I identify with it, our church identifies with it, and people who hear the name of the conference love it.

I personally am a bit nervous about using the name, but I have decided to quit beating around the bush, and start shooting straight. I believe that today Jesus would rebuke the church as we know it, and reach out to the disenfranchised, just as He did in His day. I have seen directly into the machinations of a part of American corporate Christianity, and found it to be self serving, corrupt, and dishonest at certain points. Not all points, but on some extremely critical points. I don't mind becoming a voice of reformation in some tiny way.

This seminar is about redefining Church in it's current cultural expression. That's really all it's about, and the name will reach those who identify with it. George Barna tells us those numbers who might like this name is increasing - so hey, it's time to find out if it's true. We live in a great place to test the theory.

Helen said...

I think I see what Colin/Ian is saying. "People who hate church" is attention-getting, but if someone agrees, "Yes, I hate church", that might indicate they are too much 'stuck' in past hurts.

"People who don't like church" or "people who find church boring/irrelevant" might be what you mean, but it's not as attention-getting as "people who hate church".

I've moved on from my past hurts. I don't hate church; I'd just rather go shopping Sunday morning.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Helen,

Of course, one of the target audiences is people who are in the church and want to reach out to those who don't like church at all.

It is those people outside the church who love the title. So, we'll see how it works. Quite experimental it is, and we know that. But people who are over the issue are not our target audience, unless they want to become part of the solution to those who still have serious problems with church.

I've been there done that, know how they feel, have never left the chruch despite being abused by it, and know how to minister to those who do hate it - in fact they hang out with us often. Pretending that people don't have serious problems with the church is not the way to reach them. So we are going to face it head on.

Helen said...

Phil wrote: "Pretending that people don't have serious problems with the church is not the way to reach them. So we are going to face it head on."

I like that.

I just noticed you labelled this post 'atheists' (amongst other things). I'm curious about why you did that: is it because you expect atheists to be interested in this conference? I'd be surprised if atheists would want to come to a conference called "God for [a certain group of people]".

Pastor Phil said...


I put the label atheists on there because we are having a dialogue with atheists. Jim Hendeson will sit down with a few atheists, and we will learn what it is like to be an atheist who is confronted by Christians.

Helen said...

Oh, ok, thanks for explaining.

I forgot about that part of the conference.

Webb Kline said...

Phil, been busy and this is the first I've seen this. I love it! What a great idea--and one I can definitely relate to.

Regarding the debate about the past hurts thing with Colin, I have to say that when I talk to nonbelievers, or at least non-church-goers, the one common thread they invariably share is the fact that they have had some bad experience with church or religious folk. Every one of them!

If I have one 'secret weapon' that helps me to help others find Jesus, it is that point where I am able to separate Jesus from the plethora of religious garbage that keeps them from seeing Him for who he really is.

When it comes right down to it, do any of us ever enter the Kingdom any other way?

This should be really interesting. If there is any way we can make it up, we'll be there.

Pastor Phil said...


Of course we'd love you up here for the conference.

Separating Jesus from the trash of church history (past and present) is critical to making sense of Christianity to many people who only see the dark human side of it.

Of course, this is not to say that there are not great things in Church History, but there sure is a lot of garbage, and somehow we need to let people know that Jesus is not part of that garbage.

Anonymous said...

I only wish I could come. You simply must blog a post conference debrief.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Is God invited to this conference? Does the Holy Spirit have free reign to do whatever He wants to do in your midst?

The problem with trying to culturally mimic the worlds culture, or a particular strain of subculture (neopagans, witches, etc), is that it shows we resorted to using better man-made methods to reach people, instead of asking and expecting God to show up when we preach the Word.

Worldly society is tired of dead religion; however, the solution is not to make Christianity as a philosophy more acceptable to those with views we can somehow encircle and include in ours. No, the solution is rather to be in touch with God in such a way that God (The Father/Jesus Christ / Holy Spirit) shows up on the scene in a manifest real way.

The thing that should be common among Christians (disciples of Christ would be a better term), is that they have come in touch with the reality of God in their own lives by the witness and power of the Holy Spirit living inside of them. If this witness is lacking, then any so-called Christian/Church is merely positing a philosophy of "christian" thinking and moral precepts.

You mentioned the conference may view the film "Jesus Camp". I understand it is highly politicized in nature. Also, the film poke's fun at the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, like speaking in tongues. This cavilier treatment of a Holy gift from God is not the kind of thing I'd want to implant in the minds of those that "hate the church" who might attend your conference.

It is precisely the Holy Spirit that is missing from modern "church" experience. What "church haters" may be hating isn't a "Church" at all--something that call's itself a church, but is devoid of it's Spirit and power. What "church haters" need to see and hear is an authentic witness of "The Church", or be taught what they have seen in the past wasn't "church" in the first place.

I am reminded however, that Paul didn't pull a miracle out of his hat everytime he preached. While under arrest wouldn't it have been convenient to have a display of power to show off to his accusers? This wasn't always the case, as we know. Nonetheless, the Acts of the Holy Spirit continue in our day, and signs-and-wonders are still witnessed in contexts of faith and faithful men who preach the Word.

Finally, Satan hates the church and actively fights against it. Those who profess no faith in God are inheritently, and by definition, under the influence of Satan. To assume you can argue, as in a debate, man-to-man, on a human level, and persuade anyone to faith, does not recognize the very real unseen spiritual battle at war for these people's souls. No matter how good the intellectual arguments are, it is a spiritual conquest you are undertaking.

Success for this conference should not be about having a more favorable view from those who were formerly antagonistic. Success would be the healing of broken hearted, opening the blind eyes and deaf ears, setting the captives free--the transference of souls from darkness to the Kingdom of God--all accomplished by preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, in faith, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit present.


Pastor Phil said...

You Said:
"Hi. Is God invited to this conference? Does the Holy Spirit have free reign to do whatever He wants to do in your midst?"

Is this a real question Ronald?

You appear to be making assumptions about two things:

1) That we are looking to mimic others simply because we believe that it is the best way to reach people.

2) That whatever you do in your church life is not somehow an adaptation of some previous cultural pattern, and just another human effort.

Having said that perhaps we need to rethink "church" like you are rethinking "Christianity." You think that "disciples of Christ" might be a better term for Christian (personally I don't find that term any better, but it shows you are rethinking things.) Do you think there might be a better term than our English word "church" as well?

Bruce said...

About the upcoming conference, I hope to be there.
Another fine movie to consider is the documentary biography of Rockin'" Rollen Stewart, the man behind "John 3:16" at sporting events in the '80s. The movie is called "The Rainbow Man/John 3:16".

Here's a link:http://www.othercinemadvd.com/movies/rainbowman.mov

The DVD cover image:

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Bruce (which Bruce is this by the way?),

Interesting sounding flick. I'll check it out.