Sorry to be so late in reporting how our gathering was at Annual Conference. The week following conference, I was busy preparing for and attending my D. Min. classes at Bethel Seminary.

I was surprised and amazed by how many attended our gathering this year! Knowing that some who attended in previous years were not coming to San Diego made me wonder if anyone would show-up. Twenty-three people showed-up for all or part of the gathering! This is the highest attendance since the group started with Brian McLaren’s participation (2005).

No only was this year’s gathering different by having the highest attendance, but the topic of conversation was very different. In the past, this has been more of a time of support and sharing what’s happening in our ministry. This year, about 2/3’s of the group was older than 50. Some came because they feel like their traditional-styled ministry is not working, they don’t know much about emergent-style ministy, and so they came to find out. One literally asked, “What is emergent?”.

Some attempted to answer this question in different ways such as:
* the local community works best at defining it.
* it is measured both subjectively and objectively.
* it is a combination of both artistry and technology.

In addition to those who didn’t know much about the topic, there were some from a Sustaining Pastoral Excellence group who had studied the topic and gone to Europe to explore different churches. There were also a couple pastors present who are trying to move their congregation in this direction. So, much of the conversation was going back and forth between those who are new and curious about the topic and those who have seriously explored this style of ministry.

My wife commented afterwards that she felt like she had been in one of my seminary classes at Bethany. This was a good description of the level of conversation.

If I mis-interpreted what happened, please leave a comment below to correct my reflections! Those who didn’t make it West this year — we missed you!

Jeff Glass