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Just returned from a quick trek out to Long Beach for The Idea Session at WFX hosted by Charles Lee and The Idea Camp.  I can’t say enough about the collaborative, creative ethos Charles and The Idea Camp foster — so much hope & inspiration to go and demonstrate God’s love to a broken world.

Tonight, we heard from Tony Kim of Newsong, Eric Bryant of Mosaic, and Mel McGowan of Visoneering about, “The Ethos of Creativity.”  Great insights all around from everyone and, in Idea Camp style, plenty of interaction from everyone who was there.  You can read my first attempt at a true live blog about The Idea Session here at Scribble Live.

A few of my favorite quotes:

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The Freeze Project San Diego video is now online!

Today, there are over 27 million people trapped in slavery and human trafficking — more than at any other time in human history.  The US State Department estimates between 600,000-800,000 women, children, and men are trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80% are women and girls and up to 50% are minors.

And yet, so many people are unaware of this global nightmare.  Through The Freeze Project, we are raising awareness for those trapped in this terrible injustice.  Join the movement and raise your voice for freedom!

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Special thanks to Shirley Hwang for spearheading The Freeze Project San Diego movement and to Joe Baek for filming and editing the video.

Robert Gelinas, lead pastor and resident jazz theologian of Colorado Community Church, uses wonderful & evocative imagery from the world of jazz (think John Coltrane and Miles Davis, not Kenny G) in Finding the Groove to help us dream of the Kingdom of God in fresh ways.  Even for non-jazz fans, Groove’s stories & quotes (e.g., Coltrane’s search for the sound of God) are engaging and helpful in composing a vibrant, jazz-shaped faith.

In Groove, Robert builds on the jazz keynotes of syncopation, improvisation, and call & response to inform and give life to our theology, ecclesiology, hermeneutics, mission, and praxis — no small task!  In many ways, Groove is a book for the church — Robert’s thoughts about ensemble community in chapter five are prophetic and powerful — but it is more than a “how-to” workbook.  Groove‘s helped me reconsider the role of tension and suffering in life and community; instead of trying to minimize those things, learning to see them, instead, as means to creativity and engaging life as it really is.

One particular passage stands out for its resonance in pastoral leadership (p.155):

In a jazz ensemble, the drummer is the timekeeper. He sits obscurely in the back, ever keeping the beat, driving the tempo, and signaling time changes. His job is to keep time in a way that sets the others free. He listens and responds to the moments and in the process keeps time for all.  He has the worst seat in the house. Think about it; as he sits in the back all he sees are the backsides of his fellow musicians.  It’s not a great place to see, but it’s a great place to serve

The essence of jazz is listening.

Even if you’ve never listened to Kind of Blue or have no idea who Billie Holiday is, I definitely recommend Finding the Groove.  Sometimes, it is precisely the act of crossing into unfamiliar territory that stirs creativity and imagination.

Part four of my ongoing series of reflections on The Idea Camp (catch up on part one, part two, part three):

I loved seeing a wide range of speakers and facilitators presenting from the main stage.  It’s not just diversity for its own sake (which can so quickly devole into tokenism).  As David Gibbons shared with us at the Camp, creativity and life come from the margins, from intersections you might not otherwise cross. When we hear the same people making the same rounds from the same book tour on the same circuit…. well, you get the idea. That’s why I appreciated William Paul Young, author of The Shack, urging the National Pastors Convention to highlight women’s voices from the main stage there (this past year, the main stage was not the most diverse bunch).

The diversity at The Idea Camp was more than just cosmetic: we heard from pastors, non-profit innovators, business leaders, men, women, young, old, people from a variety of racial & ethnic backgrounds, the tech-savvy, the well-known and the not-as-well-known.  Kudos to Charles Lee for his vision of bringing together a remarkable group of people to lead & share.

For me, as an Asian American, every conference I attend is a cross-cultural experience.  Occasionally my wife and I talk about how difficult it is to find our place in life & ministry – not quite here or there most of the time.  It was encouraging to be reminded that diversity is an important part of creativity and listening for God’s voice.

Part three of an ongoing series of reflections about my Idea Camp experience (feel free to check out part one and part two)…

After I came home from The Idea Camp, my wife commented on how completely my inner geek had been unleashed.  “I had no idea,” she said to me, shaking her head.  It’s true — I spent a good deal of the weekend bathed in the warm glow of a small army of MacBooks running TweetDeck.

I definitely experienced firsthand what Charles Lee wrote, “Social networking is more than a nice tool, it’s cultural architecture.”  For me, tech facilitated friendship.  In some cases, I was able to connect with friends who I had only known through the blogosphere; in others, I met people face to face and have since been connected online.  In both cases, the transition from online to offline friendship was pretty seamless.  Gives me some hope for facilitating online/offline friendship and community in our church.

In terms of participation, tech opened doors for people to be involved in many different ways.  As DJ Chuang observes, The Idea Camp was a great venue for connecting the online and offline worlds, “We had as many people online as in-person at the event, Q&A was interaction with both onliners and offliners, relationships initiated online came together in person, etc.”

On a personal level, it was so encouraging to gather with like-minded friends who are asking similar questions and seeking to build God’s kingdom in their local communities. Working in church ministry has an isolating effect, and sometimes it’s good to get together with people who are thinking in the same direction just to know that you’re not crazy. I heard that same refrain recently from Mike Bishop, author of What is Church?, in describing the close friendship he has built with a group of people around the country that started with the question, We’re not crazy, are we?