Thursday, June 29, 2017
THE UNCONFERENCE: UPDATE
The Unconference event in Nashville was just awesome.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to explain exactly how awesome, because there are so many little stories that I can't just tell you one of them to explain it.
So, instead, over the next few days I will try to share a few of those stories here.
In general, there were about 80 people there from all over - Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Virginia, California - and of course from Tennessee.
My co-hosts were Richard Jacobson and Steve Simms. Both are amazing guys.
I knew Richard really well and he continued to bless me as I got to meet him in person after knowing him online for like 5 years. [But I feel like I've known him my whole life].
Steve was a practical stranger to me, but I stayed with him and his wife and they were both solid gold. Just amazing hearts and humble, kind, loving people.
Overall, I had a half dozen conversations with people who pulled me aside to thank me for my books, and who quoted specific blog articles I had written [some of them 9 years ago!] and thanked me for helping them to learn, or grow in their faith. That was really so encouraging to me.
Our goal with this event was to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and take us off the map if He wanted to - and He really did!
On Friday evening, Steve Simms shared an unbelievable story: A few years ago he had run across a book - quite by accident - of "Street Names in Nashville and Their Origins". Curious, he picked it up and searched for the origin of "Berry Street" [where his church meets, and also where our Unconference was being hosted].
To his surprise, he learned that the street had been named for Berry McFerrin, a Methodist minister from the 1800's.
But that's not all. He then looked and found a biography of this man and there found this testimony about a time in his life when Mr. Berry McFerrin had attended youth meetings and was inspired by their similarities to those in Acts:
“The meetings were greatly blessed. We read the Scriptures, we sang, we prayed, we spoke often one to another, and the Lord listened and heard. Here I heard much of Christian experience, and learned to understand the wants of others. Here I learned to give words of exhortation and comfort, and here I learned to appreciate the trials and temptations connected with the life of a Christian. Fifty years have passed and the precious seasons that I enjoyed then are still fresh in my memory. I regard class meetings as among the greatest providential means of grace ever instituted in the church. They did much to keep me in the path, and gave me many encouragements through hearing the experience of older and wiser Christians than myself. Class meeting is about the best theological school ever organized. It was a sad day when it declined in the church; and I hope and pray the time may come when it will be revived in the church.”
But, the book reveals, Mr. McFerrin never lived to rediscover that experience again. However, his prayer was answered nearly 200 years later when the Berry Street Worship Center was built...across the street from where he once lived and prayed that prayer!
So, after hearing this story, Steve led us all outside and across the street to the park where his house had once stood. There, we all held hands and stood in a circle to thank the Lord for answering this prayer.
As we stood there praying, a young girl of about 16 saw a vision of a massive fire hose coming out of the sky and flooding the ground with water which gushed in all directions. She shared about how it was so strong it felt as if it would have knocked her down if she hadn't been holding hands with others in our prayer circle.
That next morning I was supposed to be sharing in the first session about my book "Jesus Untangled" and the need to untangle faith and politics.
But the night before, around 3am, the Lord woke me up and told me there were 3 things holding back the flood for many people at the Unconference. [More on this later]
I had the whole thing laid out for me. So, I got out of bed, got on my knees and thanked the Lord for this new direction. Then I wrote it all down. After that, I couldn't sleep, so I checked my messages and posted a few things on Facebook.
Almost immediately, I received a text from Richard Jacobson asking me why I was awake at 3am. I told him what had happened with the dream and he said the Lord had awakened him and given him a new message to share in his session, too!
That next morning I took us off the map and shared what the Lord had given me to say.
I spoke for about 20 minutes and then I invited people to come up and confirm if this was for them.
Soon, many of the people started to come up and confess that at least one of those 3 things were holding them back and keeping them from experiencing more of the Lord in their personal life and in their church life.
That's only what the Lord did before lunch on Saturday.
It was an amazing weekend.
We're already planning to do it again next year.
More to come...