At the opening worship for Unconference11, one of our leaders asked us what do we bring to this gathering? What do we have to offer?
This is a good question. For over a year I have planned to attend Unco11. It represents an odyssey for me, through developmental challenges for my daughter and all of the changes that represents in my family life, vocational discernment, and what it means to have friends and colleagues during this season of my life. Before my daughter's diagnosis in 2006, I was heavily involved in continuing education and colleague groups. That participation ground to a halt. My family needed more focus. The window for our daughter to thrive was one that required specific attention. So that is what Melanie and I did. It is always our life that we do this for our families, but this was particular. We are at a place where we are confident in our ability to care for our daughter. It is time to reconnect. Unco11 represents that for me.
What do I have to offer? It may sound simple--but I can offer encouragement to others. I also came to be encouraged. It is in that space of encouragement that God is present. One might think that a gathering related to the church is supposed to be encouraging. But it is rare. I have been to numerous gatherings of church folk over the years, and I may have learned things, but the Spirit to implement that learning was lost in a sea of handouts and notes. Lost in the work of control freaks and egomaniacs, of which I was sometimes (and still can be) one. Observing the folks (mostly via Twitter #unco11) and Spirit who birthed the Unconference I saw a place of encouragement and learning that didn't rely on or assume old pedagogy. Plus, the use of technology and social media are used without suspicion.
I am very pleased with my investment in this gathering. I have intentionally encouraged others, and I have been encouraged. I am thankful for the many hours of labor invested so that I may experience Christ's presence.
I am still processing the discussions, and that may come with a later post. If you are looking to find a company of encouragement centered on a discussion of what we can collectively and individually offer to the life of the church, keep your eyes open for the next gathering of Unco!