Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts on "Faith for Thought"

It's three weeks since the Faith for Thought 2013 conference, Seeds of Hope, and the rush of the day has subsided a little bit.  So I need to set down some thoughts about the event, trying to measure it against what we had hoped for, and to see what went well and what could be improved for any future iteration.

  1. All the response we had was positive, and I think everyone who took part had a wonderful day.  The three main speakers - Lisa Sharon Harper, Richard Alley, and Ben Lowe - brought different insights into the central questions of faith, justice and creation care.  In between, the small-group breakout sessions gave people the opportunity to reflect, process, and engage more deeply.  At least one participant described the experience as "life changing".
  2. I love the overall feel of the day, with its mixture of large and small groups, informal interaction, Byron Borger's wonderful book table, and the  way the whole event is framed by worship.
  3. The number of participants was enough to give the day critical mass - and, in surveys, some said they liked the intimacy of the occasion - but it was many fewer than we had hoped, based on the experience of previous Faith for Thought events.  Related to this (at least in my mind) is the high proportion of survey respondents saying that already existing environmental concerns were among their main reasons for taking part in FFT.  In other words, we were reaching teh committed, but we were not as successful as we'd hoped in sharing the message that creation care belongs on the agenda of every thoughtful Christian believer.
Perhaps it is inevitable that a one-day conference comes across as an event for the already committed, especially in a world where overscheduled students often seem to measure out their available time in microsecond increments.  If so, we might need to think about shorter events which will motivate those who don't think of themselves as "green" to think a bit more deeply about the call to care for God's creation.

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