Perception of Intolerance

During our panel discussion at the Arts Conference, after we heard from Pastor Dan Kimball, we attempted to wrestle with some of the questions raised in his book, They Like Jesus But Not The Church. Time did not come close to allowing us to explore in any depth so many issues and questions that were raised. In light of that, we thought we could continue the dialog online, and attempt to dig deeper into one issue at a time. I’d like to start the conversation exploring the overall perception held by many outside the church that communities of Christian faith are essentially intolerant. Three of the big 6 impressions shared by Dan’s contacts outside the church all fit under this umbrella, including the perception that the church is homophobic and a boys club not embracing women leaders.

As church leaders, whatever our theological and Scriptural positions may be on issues like homosexuality and women in leadership, and whatever our political leanings may be, the question is whether those who don’t necessarily share the same point of view are not only welcome, but also encouraged to dialog about their perspectives. Essentially, would we describe our weekly gatherings as places where people are invited into an interactive experience and conversation, or are we only presenting truth as we see it and offering solutions or answers? I am not suggesting we have to compromise on what we see as Biblical truth…I am only asking whether we make room for people to engage, explore their questions, challenge our thinking, and feel genuinely heard.

Some church leaders might contend that the only way to change the perception that we are intolerant is to throw out our standards, our beliefs, our definitions of sin, etc. Do you think that is the only choice we have? Or can we invent ways to offer an experience that feels like more of a dialog than a monolog while still teaching Biblical truth lovingly as we see it? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this. What have you done at your church to make room for this kind of exploration? Do you believe the reputation of churches as intolerant is deserved? Is there any hope for altering that reputation? Please send us your thoughts and maybe we can all help one another consider some constructive alternatives…
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Backstage with Donald Miller

Part One

Part Two

Looking back, I think Session 4 was spectacular. I think we all appreciated Helena & Jay sharing their story & the journey they have been on for the last few years. It was a gift to then worship & pray together.

It was also great for me personally to put a face & a voice with the words I have read in Donald Miller's books. I appreciated what he had to say. If you & I am sure you were like me & would have liked more time to talk with him.

We asked him to come down to the video suite & answer a few of the questions people asked in the comments.

Hear what Donald had to say and then let us know what you think? What issues are you wrestling with as you try to make the art of the gospel real in your church.
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Backstage with Erwin & Dave from Scribble

Part One

Part Two

Looking back at the Arts Conference, there is much to celebrate. It was a great week and this last session seemed like the best way to conclude our journey together. It was exhilarating. As usual, I didn’t want our time to end.

We invited Erwin & David to spend a few more minutes with us … you don’t want to miss what they had to say.

We'd love to hear your thoughts? What are your hopes for your arts community this year? Mosaic and the Urban Poets are who they are because of their deep passion and sense of mission. How do you fan the flames of spiritual passion on your team? What works? What doesn't?
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Return to Real Life!

Friday after the conference and our team’s celebration over lunch, I headed home…where I vacuumed, watered my flowers, did some laundry, and sat out on my deck. Yes, what mundane tasks after such a glorious experience! But it felt so good to return to normal everyday life, and reflect on the astounding ways God worked throughout the conference.

I’m sure I’ll be smiling for a very long time at the memories… Friday morning was so very powerful and exceeded my prayers and anything I even imagined. How grateful I am to Jay and Helena for their vulnerable ministry to all of us… to Donald Miller for stretching us and giving such an inspiring talk to all the right brained artists… to the Scribble team and Erwin for delighting us and reminding us of our extraordinary potential as creative people…

I really was sad to see it come to an end, because I love being among fellow artists and pastors, exploring together our callings and our challenges. Every personal encounter I had was so rich…

But now it’s time for what John Ortberg calls the ministry of the mundane… back to being a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, and all that real stuff. So I wish every Dad a very happy Father’s Day… and I look forward to continuing the conversation through the arts community all year long.

I’m abundantly grateful to our magnificent God for all that He has done…and I definitely am celebrating what’s right with the world!

With love in Jesus,

What is on your mind as your life and schedule return to normal? What is resonating with your heart and soul? What are you taking with you from the conference into this new day and what do you feel like you still need?

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Backstage with Dan, Sally, & Shauna

There has been some great discussion around Session 3 on some of the blog posts during and since the conference. Thanks to all of you who are asking questions. Thanks to everyone for the authenticity in your words. Thanks for the graciousness in your responses. I hope that we can continue to work this out together.

We recorded each of the panelists immediately after the session taking the conversation further and reacting to your comments & quetions. Here are video clips from Dan Kimball with Sally Morgenthaler and from Shauna Niequist. We'll follow up in the days ahead with a second clip from Shauna & others from Efrem Smith, David Loveless, and Brian McLaren.

It is tempting to move from this discussion & not deal with the truths we have been confronted with ... let's not do that ... let's keep encouraging, pushing, and inspiring one another to reach out beyond ourselves & the walls of our church.

My heart grew heavy as Dan discussed what people think about all of us and the church. When I have received criticism about the church or a service I have been a part of, people have told me to not take it personally but I think the key to growing is for us to take Dan's findings & our 'negative' experiences personally.

We need to ruthlessly examine how we are living - what we say, what we don't say, what nonverbal signals we are sending, how we spend our time & how we don't spend our time. It breaks my heart to think that I, in any way, keep people from seeing Jesus as He truly is.

We asked the panel to share anything they wanted to add to the Session 3 discussion or to address 3 specific issues that were sent by conference attenders by email or in the blog comemnts.

First, how do we reach out to homosexuals in our community? How can we let them know that they are welcome in our church? Second, what can we do so that 18 - 30 year olds want to come? How do we need to change so that they want to stay? And lastly, how do I change my church?

Listen to what they have to say & tell me what you think about what they said? What do you think was most helpful and what do you think still needs to be explored

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The Conference is Over, but the Community Lives On!

It's Saturday morning and I had my first good sleep in about two weeks, so I'm feeling great! Not just about the sleep, but mostly about the experience of the last two and a half days! When we started this journey together on Wednesday, I had only imagined what it was going to be like to be in one room, all worshiping, learning and growing together. It was better than I ever dreamed!

I watched the video highlights from each session this morning and smiled through every one. My friend Dave, did a great job capturing the moments and editting them together. I'm marvelling at our good God's blessing on every aspect. I sat through the confernce reflecting on the planning meetings and Nancy's leadership during the development and brainstorming, the ideas that came from our producer Sherri and the members of the planning team and I am in awe of how God used each and everyone. Just another reminder of what Erwin said to all of us...that God has created us to write may look like scribble at first, but the artistry and poetry is His gift to us.

I'm humbled by the commitment and dedication of the "Online Team" that came together to do what had not been done before at a Willow conference. This whole event was a HUGE team effort...Ops, Marketing, IS, Customer Service and the hundreds of volunteers...I'm so grateful for each one and would love you to meet them all.

One of my favorite things has been reading all the comments. Thank you so much for your openness and honesty. We're taking seriously all that you say and we'll learn and grow from it. Thanks for sharing, so personally, some of your challenges, that authenticy helps all who read to identify our own challenges. It was even fun to see that some of you went beyond what happened online and met up with each other. This is a great start to a community that will keep going beyond this event. We appreciate you!

Now that you're home and have had some time to process, what impacted you the most at this year's Arts Conference? What do you want to make sure we keep doing or stop doing? What are some of your favorite memories that are lingering on?

Let's keep the conversation going!
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Your Response to Session 5?

What is your response to the unforgetable experience that was Scribble with Erwin "Raphael" McManus?...
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Your Response to Session 4?

What Jay and Helena shared with us this morning was so rich, deep and personal….it completely inspires me they way they have grappled with faith in the toughest of circumstances… and to have the courage to share some of that journey with us.

Having worked alongside them the past few years, I continue to be deeply impacted their honesty and real-ness in whether on stage or off stage. I feel completely inadequate to even comment on their extraordinary expression this morning.

And then, Donald….that was one of the most challenging (in the best of ways!) and mind-stretching (brain-stretching??!!) talk that I’ve heard in some time.

While much of my day (maybe like yours) gets consumed with the work of “executing” my art….figuring out what works and why it works….evaluating and systematizing and structuring and doing….To step back and think about the mystery of art was so life giving and reminded me why I’m an artist at heart.

Donald completely challenged me on so many levels: to embrace the mystery on my own personal journey, to allow enough time in my life to experience art to its fullest, to release some of my quests to “understand it all,” to have all my questions answered.

How ‘bout you? What impact did Donald or Jay and Helena have on you? What are taking with you from this time?

Here are some links we thought might be helpful:

The Geometry of Love book

Rembrandt Self-Portraits

The Brain: Amygdala

The Age of Enlightenment

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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Live Comment here on Erwin "Raphael" McManus & Scribble!

So... what do you think? Could you "so go there"?

What is stirring as you hear Erwin's words? What is stirring in you as you see this piece? It's our last session folks, so comment it up!

Much love,
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Additional Resources on Homosexuality

Last night I got home from Willow about 10:30 pm. I was really late getting home. Anyone have some Reconcilosec? (Film Festival inside joke) But my wife wasn't worried because she was deeply engaged in a documentary on PBS about a gay men's chorus. It followed their life experiences as a group and individually.

Julie's heart was broken by one moment in the film. Almost every man recounted how his church abandoned him. One man told the story of how as an 18 year-old he was unexpectedly brought before the congregation, accused of being a homosexual with evidence from a secret council, and then excommunicated before all.

I don't know how to love gay people the way Jesus would and does. As a pastor and leader, I don't know exactly how the Church should engage people who are gay and their families. In the blog comments Wednesday, someone mentioned a lesbian couple in their church that was fully accepted until they had a child and it came time for Baby Dedication before the church. What do you do?

There are no easy answers.

We wanted to provide you with some additional resources to help you as you prayerfully seek answers for you and your own ministry context.

Nothing we could offer would be able to do all of the work for us,, but our hope is that these materials would be helpful to you as you seek scripture and the Spirit for guidance.

“Is God … Homophobic?”

MP3 of a recent Message from Gene Appel, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek

Peppermint Filled Piñatas
Book by Eric Bryant

Podcast of a recent message from Erwin McManus, Lead Pastor and Cultural Architect of Mosaic
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Live Comment here on Session 4!

Okay friends, this promises to be a very personal session. We hope that the Spirit moves in each of us - searching our hearts and letting us know that none of us are alone. He is with us always!

So, what are your thoughts? How are you reacting and interacting with all of the experiences, the worship, & the message?...
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Good Morning Everyone!

Hard to believe it’s Friday already…our last day together! It sure has gone by fast! The good news is, now that we have the Arts Movement blog, our conversation can keep right on going. This is a space where we can continue to dialogue about all of the blessings and challenges that come with our unique calling.

So, keep coming back…especially to see the videos that will continue to be posted and to participate in great discussions.

How did your night go….with so many people filling thier creative tanks at Blue Man, Wicked, & the Film Festival I’m curious to know what was your greatest inspiriation last night? Was your night all that you expected? What did it inspire you to want to bring back to your church?

Also, as we head into our last day together, what’s on your mind? What things impacted you the most during the conference? What did God do in you over the last 2 ½ days?

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A Prayer for Friday

Thinking about our first session with Dewitt and moving on from this conference to our lives and ministries, I pray that we continue to be people who seek God’s truth as passionately as we do the next idea. I pray that our pursuit of serving God grows out of lives that resemble Christ more and more each day. And last, I pray we always put our hope in God, not our abilities, not our gifts and not the latest trends. Let us frame the hope of God so we create an image of the Savior.

Father, lead us by your truth and teach us, for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 25:5

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Goodnight from Nancy on Day 2...

I finished up my day teaching a Point Leader Track at the Renaissance Center – and I’m excited for all the different activities tonight. The Art in the City folks are in for a great experience, as well as those who will come to the Film Festival. Others I ran into are heading out for a long team dinner, or even going into the city on their own to walk around and simply enjoy Chicago. One leader told me they’re heading into the city AFTER the film festival at 9:00 – she said when they come to Chicago they never go to bed before 2:00! Well, knock yourself out…I’ll think of you as I head to sleep around 10!

I always enjoy being in a room with a small group of arts leaders, tackling tough issues, interacting, helping one another think through the hard stuff of ministry – and today was no exception. I am very impressed by the quality of leadership and the devotion to learning and growing I see among the group at the conference this year. It’s truly inspiring.

I look forward to our final day and what God might have in store in both sessions tomorrow, with great anticipation and prayerfulness. It’s been such a privilege to play a part in this adventure, and I’ll definitely be sad to see everyone heading home. On the other hand…my house and children could use a little of my attention…

So to the early birds or the night owls - what are you going to bed thinking about tonight? What's on your heart and mind as you reflect on all that you heard and experienced today?
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The Film Festival Rocks!

Film Festival Favorites at the end of this post...

Wow. I just stopped by the auditorium to check out the Film Festival because I was tired of working from my office and I'd rather work from the booth, but this is out of control. There are so many of you here and the energy is sooooo good. What a great time!

Soooo.. I see some laptops out there - are you live? How are YOU liking or not liking this? What's on your mind? What are your thoughts about the Film Festival?

(UPDATE: Friends, it's 8:49 and I gotta jet or else I won't get to see that 7 month old before he goes to bed - wish I could stay till the end - kudos to these churches and the many others big and small being brave, creative, and passionate for Christ!

7:55 pm - I got some goosebumps up in here... "Val's Christmas"

7:59 pm - Kids, shoes, bikes, Uganda - Genius! ... the gospel on film, one church makes a difference... "Africa"

8:02 pm - 14 oz baby - tears (we have a 7 month old) - prayer & community - "where would I have gone?"... "My story"

8:07 pm - Hilarious... "Host Team"

8:11 pm - I was at this service and will never forget the image of the "I AM WITH YOU" and the catscan - I needed to know that the night of that service!... "Randy's Story"

8:13 pm - beautiful video - color fade in just right - "Beauty"

8:16 pm - spoken word meets edge - awesome - love that you can't see her face - like Lori said, powerful! - "Note"

8:21 pm - here come those darn goose bumps again - thank you Jesus for rewrapping me... "Presents"

8:26 pm - I always love cardboard signs - dig the song - "Passionate Pursuit"

8:29 pm - Magic Scrabble Dice - the effects rock - "Meant to Live"

8:31 pm - As an "Office" addict... GENIUS!... "Cubicle"

8:33 pm - You had me at the "why women stay single" title - did my wife contribute to the brainstorming for this video?... "Be Self Aware "

8:36 pm - I feel like Debbie Downer but my friend works to free enslaved foreign nationals in Washington D.C.... okay it's just funny... "Indentura"

8:39 pm - Anything Mac always has my vote "Christian - Christ-Follower"

8:40 pm - "Star Wars - who I don't know is my sister yet" also Genius - LOL!!! - love the tackle - "leprosy & plague"... "Reconciosec"
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Checked out the Hope Canvases?

In just two days, you have made amazing progress on the Hope Canvases! They all look just beautiful while each having their own unique expression. What color and encouragement they will bring to the ministry partners who will receive them. There are still some white spaces, so check them out and add your piece to the painting.

For those of you who have already left your mark, tell us what you painted and why? How did you choose the canvas you were going to paint on?
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Comment here on Technical Experience & Breakouts...

Share your thoughts, your questions, and your reactions....
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Comment here on General Breakouts...

Share your thoughts, your questions, and your reactions....
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Comment here on the Point Leader Track...

Share your thoughts, your questions, and your reactions....
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Comment here on Ministry Showcases...

Share your thoughts, your questions, and your reactions....
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Comment here on Featured Breakouts...

Share your thoughts, your questions, and your reactions....
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How was Cups of Coffee for you?

Just wanted to check in and see how Cups of Coffee went for you. This was an innovation that we are excited about.

We'd love to hear from you. What was your experience? Was it what you hoped or could it use some improvement? What did you learn?...
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What are you excited about today?

Hope you all had a good sleep! Or, maybe spent hours in conversations late into the night…

I could not be more excited about today and all that it holds for you. In conversations with others, in breakouts that will engage and equip, and in moments where you check in with what God is speaking to you - this day is full of possibility.

As I was reflecting back on our first day together, I was humbled once again at what a good God we have. He used the speakers, the art, the worship to challenge and inspire me, even in the midst of some difficulties. I spent the whole night singing This is My Father’s World…that was a goosebump moment for me yesterday!

There were so many great breakout classes to choose from and some super teachers. Hope you enjoy your day and that you are grounded in "what's right with your world".

So, what are you most excited about today? What are you looking forward to the most?
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Prayer for Thursday Morning...

My youngest son Max is a treasure. He is eleven. He is cute, funny, kind, loving, charming and challenged. Max is on the Autism Spectrum. There are many things he does well and there are some things that are more difficult. He learned to read when he was 4, loves it, and has excelled in that subject. However, in 4th grade Max faced a challenge when asked to infer what a writer’s intent or purpose was. He struggles with questions asking him to guess what a character might be thinking or feeling. He needs and prefers things to be spelled out – he wants to see them in black and white. He has a difficult time reading between the lines.

There are some days I have a difficult time reading between the lines. I walk through my day seeing only what is in front of me, only what is in black and white. I move throughout my day trying to accomplish what I think is most important. I become frustrated by interruptions and paths that take me off my course. I miss God’s voice saying ‘slow down, look over here … I have something good for you to hear … to see … to taste.’ I miss God’s voice saying, ‘I want you to be my hands and feet. I want you to speak words of love.’

My prayer for today is that we read between the lines. I am confident that the teachers are well prepared but God has more in store for you than what the speakers will say. Look for the good things God has put before you. There is more for you to see than the videos, power point presentations & the hand-outs you’ll receive.
Look for ways to be his hands, his feet and his voice. God may have led you to a particular session not just for you could learn but so He could work through you. Ask for eyes to see those who need a kind word, a smile, a touch.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21

Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.
Psalm 107:15

How about you? What are you praying for today?
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Reflecting on Day 1

It’s almost 10:00 pm, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, reflecting on the magnificent day God gave us to start the Arts Conference. Though weary and very ready for bed, I’m also so deeply grateful for the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit all day long. As I told the conference attenders, my day started with a gift as I took a walk by a local lake and locked eyes with a young deer – truly an enchanted beginning! I have felt the treasure of God’s whispers all day long, throughout every session and conversation.

DeWitt Jones once again delighted us with his passion and joy and perspective. Reminded me to do what I do “for the love of it!” If that’s not the case, we need to dig deep and figure out why. I also loved his image of breathing out and giving back…How grateful I am for what he contributed to the start of our conference, to helping us celebrate what is right with the world.

In session 2, I loved partnering with Jon Klinepeter, the arts leader who helped me with the quotes in my teaching. He is a good friend and a terrific young leader at the Church of Wrigleyville in the city of Chicago (Wrigley field neighborhood where my beloved Cubs play…) I thank God for giving me boldness to deliver the message I believe he gave me to give. I gave it all I had and celebrate not having any regrets. I’ll long remember the 5,000 voices singing Enchanted and then launching into This is My Father’s World – it was truly glorious!

The biggest risk of the day was the panel discussion and drama in session 3. I came away mostly wishing I was a more gifted moderator, and wishing we could have dug deeper into some of the issues we raised. But I’m thankful for what we were able to hear from Efrem, Sally, Shauna, Brian, David, and Dan. The concerns raised by Dan Kimball are a wake-up call to the church. I can only hope we contributed in some way to the ongoing conversation that MUST take place if the church is ever going to effectively reach our current culture and reach our redemptive potential. I’m thankful we can honestly wrestle with these difficult issues, and truly hope that church teams are still mulling over what we explored together as they dialogue over meals, in the van/cars, etc.

This evening I shared dinner with the Arts Movement Champions, and we were blessed with some Q and A time with DeWitt. This conference wouldn’t be what it has become without the efforts of these champions. I can’t say enough about their passion and discernment as together we seek to serve churches in the arts and worship arenas.

So now it’s time to go to sleep and look forward to whatever God has for us tomorrow…I sign off knowing I am a blessed daughter of God, and imagining what the unwritten day of tomorrow might hold…

How about you? What was your experience of Day 1? What is on your mind and heart?
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Your response to Session 3?

So, how'd you do with that last session? While it was uncomfortable at times, I think it's really healthy that we went after some very complex issues and didn't wrap it neatly with "three steps to a brighter future" at the end! Instead, we were really wrestling with these issues as we enter into a post-Christian era.

In brainstorming this session several months ago, we grappled for several hours on whether the drama scene would work without the context of an entire service dedicated to exploring homosexuality. During the Willow service when the scene was first used, Gene did a masterful job of expressing a clear Biblical worldview on the issue; if you are struggling with how the Church should respond to this issue, I'd encourage you to download Gene's message as another avenue to explore the topic.
Ultimately, we landed on using the scene in the conference because of its raw honesty, the profound way that it moved us and the picture it painted of two people struggling with this took homosexuality out of the realm of statistics, labels and stereotypes and into the messiness of everyday life and relationships.

The rest of the session continued in that same vein: moving away from platitudes and easy answers and into wrestling with truth. For example, I resonated with the whole "Christian subculture bubble" that Dan talked about...the church plant we were a part of in Orlando really grappled with that: how do you clearly define the line between cultural traditions and biblical truth? I know in my background, there wasn't always a clear distinction between stylistic choices and a sound theology of worship.

I loved Efrem's emphasis on knowing who we are naturally as well as supernaturally, leading into the turn at the end of the session to discuss being the Church outside the David put it, not just being attractional but also missional in nature. And Brian solidified that thought for me with his comment: every week, people in the church should get fired up to love the world more.

What was your take-away from the various speakers? Hopefully, it led to lots of animated discussions around the dinner table. What stands out?
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Your Response to Session 2?

Smokin’ music at the top of Session 2! Whether that’s the style of music loaded on your iPod or not, it’s inspiring to see people using their gifts with wild abandon and loving it.

What's great about the next few days is that you'll experience a whole range of musical styles, like the worship at the end of the session. (Tip: don't miss Friday morning for some significant soul moments with Jay and Helena.)

The kind of stuff Nance was going after this morning is what fires me up: wrestling with the reality of hope and despair. Like Bono said, duality and tension are marks of great art….all part of wrestling truth to the ground and being honest with yourself and before God.

I’m sitting in the balcony with Doug, the guy from Axis...the one who was impacted by the phrase, "cynicism lacks courage." The amazing part of Doug’s story is that I think of Doug as one of the most hopeful people I know….still grounded in reality and grappling with the contradiction of the newspaper and the Bible, but full of life and encouragement for everyone he meets.

What about you….can you “breathe it in” this morning? Where is your heart?

God reigns, let the earth be glad.

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Session 3 - Live comment here...

This is a powerful session. Take a minute and share your thoughts.

In the drama, in Dan's message, in the panel - there is so much to process - what's on your mind?

The panel will be taking questions at - ask them anything!...
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Right with the world / Wrong with the website...

So, as you can see, our Online Experience looks pretty different right now.

We decided to go with a much simpler site for now, so that you don't lose any time in offering your comments and joining the conversation. Behind the scenes , we are working like crazy to get back up to where we want to be with our site and our wireless connections.

Thanks for your patience. We'll do all we can to bring you every bit of the great content we've got for you.

We love your comments and are excited for how this messy but encouraging online community is developing!
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Backstage with Nancy Beach

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Backstage with Dewitt Jones

Truth be told … I have an abundance of words. God is good... so good. It was a great session.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed: those who help others are helped. Proverbs 11:25

When I reflect on the last session ... the verse above seems to capture one of the treasures I gleaned. First, I was blessed by the dynamic & heartfelt worship led by the David Crowder Band. Second, I was moved & filled by the words and images from Dewitt Jones. He inspired me and remind me of the abundant beauty of God's world... "Shout to God all the earth!" Psalm 66

He reminded me of Ephesians 1:11, "It's in Christ we find out who we are & what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ & got our hopes up, He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything & everyone."

He challenged me in the way I Corinthians 15:58 does, "Don't hold back! Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort." My work is the life God called me to live and I want to live it with passion.Well, I’m not sure I have the words to express everything I am feeling after the first session.

We were fortunate enough that Dewitt gave us a few more minutes … check out what he had to say.

What are you grateful for after the last few hours? What do you think about the extra things that Dewitt had to say?
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Session 1 Highlights

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Backstage with Dewitt Jones

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Your Response to Session 1?

Although I'm on staff here at Willow, I'm getting to experience today as an attender....and it's awesome--two great artists in Session 1! Crowder's lyrics cut right to my heart, while his complete genuineness totally disarms me and opens me up to worship.

I got to hear Dewitt Jones when he was here the last time, and his talk today still "filled my cup"! I'm looking at my stack of emails this morning in a whole new light. I'm part of an amazing team of artists that, probably a lot like you, struggle to keep up with the various demands and projects that come our, it was good to be reminded to live in the moment.

So what’s your reaction? How did Dewitt’s session affect you? Are there things you are wrestling with or still processing?

Here are some links from Session 1 we thought may be helpful to you.

John Muir info

John Muir Exhibit

Sierra Club Info

National Geographic

Two Tramps in Mud Time by Robert Frost
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Session 2 - We are L to the I-V-E!

Session 2 is already OUT OF CONTROL!!! Comment here and let everyone know what you think. We want everyone to get involved - we value your DI-VERSE opinions & views :)

(did you see my adorable son Jackson in the pre-session loop - is he cute or what! - he is definitely what's right in my world!)

We apologize for the spotty wireless in the auditorium - we are working on improving it....
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Session 1: Live Comment Here!

Welcome Everybody!

Crowder is hilarious and we are worshipping it up - Hoe Down! So - let us know what you are thinking.

Live comment here as the session goes on. What are you loving? What questions do you have? Is something making you think?

This is a community for you - say something!...
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Welcome to the Conference!

Welcome! It’s been months in the planning and we are so thrilled you are finally here! In the next 2 ½ days, I’ve been praying that we’ll be challenged by some great teaching, inspired by creativity and touched by God in ways we never expected.

Sunday night I sat in rehearsal and with tears in my eyes, imagined what it would be like with the auditorium full of artists worshiping together! Every week, you are the one preparing the services for everyone else. This week, is your opportunity to sit back and be the ones in the seat. So relax and receive!

A big part of what’s happening will be here online. So, join in the conversation. Ask your hard questions….express your joy and your frustration. We want this to be a safe place to connect as artists and leaders. You can comment on every Main session and see all that’s going on around the campus. Meet other teams and see what they are getting out of it. Go behind the scenes and hear more from each of the speakers. Tell your team or family that couldn’t be with you to follow along too.

Check out the videos on each session page and hear what Nancy is looking forward to in each session. As for me, I’m most excited about getting to know you. What are you most looking forward to this week?
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A Prayer for Wednesday

I know where you are coming from and I have an idea where you are going back to. This is Pam Howell and for over 18 years I have been a part of a church’s creative art’s team. I still am. Just yesterday I was in a meeting for the Father’s day service. I know what it is like to try and get a week’s worth of work smushed into a few days and then immerse yourself into a conference. I know what it is like to try and let go of ‘the service’ for just a few days, so that there is enough room for me to experience all that God has in store.

So, each morning for myself and for you I want to offer a prayer; a time where we come before God, expectant and ready.
Regardless of whether you are in your hotel room or sitting in the seats in the auditorium, I hope you can take a deep breath, giving everything you are holding on to back to God and hear this prayer …

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself & God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you for every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2: 16 -17

What words of hope, what good can you bring to the people God places in your path today?

My hope is that this site be not about what is happening on the platform but what is happening in us and through us as we walk through these next few days. Let us know how God is working.

God’s peace to you.
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Scribbles: Session Five

Here is a video I recorded about the session with Erwin McManus and the team from Mosaic. The video speaks for itself, but as I look forward to this session, I’m increasingly thrilled that Erwin will be speaking to our gathering because Erwin lives out the kind of vision we are holding up throughout the conference.

Erwin is truly an artist/dreamer/teacher/writer/creator along with many more hyphens including husband/father/pastor, etc. I believe he is uniquely called by God to speak into our culture and to stretch those of us building churches and creating art to new ways of thinking about and looking at our world. Erwin’s writing and teaching have impacted me profoundly, and I prayed this morning that God will use him and his team in a mighty way on Friday morning. Personally, I can’t wait!

Has Erwin inspired you? Whose words make a huge difference in your life?

Get to know Erwin better, by reading the questions below.

Music: Who are you listening to these days?
Snow Patrol, The Fray, Fall Out Boy, The Killers, Until June and of course it goes without saying that my favorite band is The Glare of Rockets, the band my son Aaron and daughter Mariah have with two friends Matt and CJ.

Books: What are you reading?
Actually I am writing a book so when I am writing I’m not reading as much, but I’ve had Meditations by Marcus Aurelius with me while I’ve been traveling.

Movies, TV or DVD’s: What are you watching? Or What do you recommend?
What I watch and what I recommend are two different things.
The last really good film I saw was The Departed, but it’s filled with profanity so don’t get mad at me if you go see it.
I have been watching the whole season of Prison Break while traveling through Africa and I love it. Prison Break and House are probably my two favorite shows right now.

People: Who would you like to have a cup of coffee with?
I would love to have coffee with Bono, Steven Spielberg and maybe George Clooney just for sheer fun. Also, anyone with a lot of resources who is excited about investing in a dream.

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who are just starting out?
Get out.

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who have been involved in ministry a long time?
See answer above. The problem is that when we get in to ministry we seem to get out of humanity. I would much rather have young artists and leaders go in to humanity than go into ministry. And by the way, what does going in to ministry mean? I guess some people go in to medicine because they love the research and some because they want to be healers; which is probably why I like House…his overwhelming undeniable compassion for the world. And Prison Break is the metaphor for getting out of ministry....
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On Truth & Meaning: Session Four

Growing up my pastor always signed his letters to the congregation “expectantly”. I LOVED that. It was hopeful and thoughtful and made you want to pay attention.

When I saw Nancy’s video about why she was looking forward to Don Miller’s session, I felt her sense of holy expectation. It makes me want to pay attention and pray along with her for what God will do. I love the moments at a conference like this when the music is hot and the enthusiasm of the people is off the charts. But, more than that, I love it when we take a breath and invite God into the depths of who and where we are.

So I’ll be the guy worshiping like it’s his job when Crowder takes the stage, but I’ll also be the guy listening with all my heart and soul on Friday morning.


By the way, check out Don Miller’s responses below to some questions we asked.

Have you read Don’s books or heard him speak? What has he already meant to you?

Questions with Donald Miller

Music: Who are you listening to these days?

Books: What are you reading?
Making Waves by Llosa

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who are just starting out?
I think artists and leaders both, who are working in an evangelical culture, would do well to establish community outside of Christian community. This will round out their perspective so they have something to offer evangelical culture. This is not so difficult. A part-time job at a bookstore, starting a book club, cooking club or joining a neighborhood association are all ways to connect with people outside the church.

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who have been involved in ministry a long time?
I could only offer the same answer as the previous question, that is … to broaden our perspectives by broadening the kinds of stimulation we receive as artists....
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They Love Jesus but not the Church: Session Three

I can honestly say that I’m truly looking forward to every session in this year’s conference. Session three is going to be a lot of fun! Dan Kimball has a great perspective on why many in this generation love Jesus, but not the church. A panel of phenomenal leaders will bring their unique perspectives to the issues Dan raises. Watch Nancy’s video and see who’s on the panel and why they are there. More than that, we want to hear what you are thinking. Shauna Niequist will be in the panel and will represent you. So give us your questions and comments on the blog when the session starts and Shauna will have the fun challenge or working them into the conversation with the panel. ☺

Is there anything you already know you would love to hear this great panel talk about?

Check out Dan Kimball’s responses to some questions we asked him last week.

Dan’s Responses.

Music: Who are you listening to these days?
Matisyahu - "No Place To Be"
Johnny Cash - "Ultimate Gospel"
The Smiths - "The Very Best of The Smiths"

Books: What are you reading
Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel
The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Protestant Worship and Church Architecture: Theological and Historical Considerations by James F. White
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron (reading it to our daughters at their bedtime)

Movies, TV or DVD's: What are you watching? Or What do you recommend?
I have hardly watched any movies lately or television shows. So I can't think of anything off hand. I do think that the movie "Saved" is a good one to watch for all Christian leaders to see if there is any truth to what they portray in that movie. I just saw it on television last week, so it is on my mind.

People: Who would you like to have a cup of coffee with?
Bob Dylan, to ask him about the time period when he put out three very strong albums about his Christian faith and what he believes now
Madonna - and ask her about her spiritual beliefs
Criss Angel - and have him tell me how he does that levitation trick

Words from You: What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who are just starting out in ministry?
Sounds cliche, but walk with God and the art and leadership will come from that.

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who have been involved in ministry a long time?
Same exact thing. Sounds cliché, but walk with God and the art and leadership will come from that....
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The Audacity of Hope: Session Two

I couldn’t think of a better person to bring the message in Session 2.

Nancy has always been about brining hope to people through the arts. I first met Nancy over 20 years ago. Her creativity and her character have helped shaped who I am. She helped me uncover my gifts and gave me opportunities to express who God has created me to be. It is my hope that everyone has a Nancy in their lives.

Check out Nancy’s video where she previews what she’ll be talking about. Also, check out her responses to some questions we asked her last week.

Nancy mentions who she would have coffee with if she could. How about you? Who would you grab a cup of coffee with if you just had the chance?

Books: What are you reading?
Chasing Francis, by Ian Morgan Cron
Integrity, by Dr. Henry Cloud
Same Kind of Different As Me, Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Movies, TV or DVD’s: What are you watching? Or What do you recommend?
Movies: Blood Diamond, Amazing Grace, Waitress
TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Heroes, House

People: Who would you like to have a cup of coffee with?
My husband!, Steven Spielberg, Carly Fiorina, Dr. Billy Graham, Frederick Buechner, Meryl Streep, Aaron Sorkin, Christine Ebersol. My close friends who have moved away – John Ortberg, Doug Veenstra, Sue Miller, and Nancy OrtbergOk, I’ll stop now, but the list is endless!

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who are just starting out?
Pay as much attention to your soul and your character as to the work you do…and remember that it’s a very long race and you want to Finish Well!

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who have been involved in ministry a long time?
Let’s not grow weary in doing good! Keep asking yourself if you’re still having fun and a joyful spirit. If not, pay attention before you do something stupid and disqualify yourself. It just might be time for a little break, for lots of solitude and reflection, and for re-inventing yourself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That’s scary, but when you get to the other side of it, the transition can be glorious…...
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Why Hallelujah?

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Session 5

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Excited About Session 4

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What’s Right with the World: Session One

When I pause to see an image… really take time to see it - I can hear music or I can hear words. It is strange I know but it has always been that way for me. It was so exciting for me to grow up and have the opportunity to marry a picture with words or music. I am indebted to artists like Dewitt for capturing so much in a single image. I am looking forward to Dewitt’s session & hearing what God has placed in a picture for me.

Get to know Dewitt better by reading his answers to our questions below.

If you go to Dewitt’s site,, click meeting planners, photographic print sales, & then images, you will see a series of beautiful images. Is there one that captures you? One that you causes you to hear music or words?

Music: Who are you listening to these days?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Hawaiian music these days (could it be because I live in that lovely state?). Especially the albums of Keali`I Reichel and Israel Kamakawiwo`ole. These two singers understand the deep spirituality of Hawaiian music. And that spirit permeates their songs.

Books: What are you reading?
Though it’s been out for a while I finally got around to reading “The World is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman. A mind-bending book about how technology is flattening our world (drawing us closer and closer together), it raises some wonderful ethical and moral questions about how we live on this planet.

Movies, TV or DVD’s: What are you watching? Or What do you recommend?
Not much of a moviegoer. Rather sit on my porch and watch the stars.

People: Who would you like to have a cup of coffee with?
Jimmy Carter, Barak Obama, Tiger Woods, -- would love to see how they think.

What is one thing you would say to artists and leaders who are just starting out or have been involved in ministry a long time?
I’d say the same to both, “Fall in love with what ever you are doing, each and every day. There’s no quicker way to access your creativity; no quicker way to fill yourself with gratitude and to see the world as extraordinary....
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Excited about Session 3

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Excited about Session 2

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Excited about Session 1

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Welcome to the Online Experience!!!

Welcome!  It’s been months in the planning and  we are so thrilled you are finally here!  In the next 2 ½ days, I’ve been praying that we’ll be challenged by some great teaching, inspired by creativity and touched by God in ways we never expected. 

Sunday night I sat in rehearsal and with tears in my eyes, imagined what it would be like with the auditorium full of artists worshiping together!    Every week,  you are the one preparing the services for everyone else.  This week, is your opportunity to sit back and be the ones in the seat.  So relax and  receive! 

A big part of what’s happening will be here online.  So,  join in the conversation.  Ask your hard questions….express your joy and your frustration.  We want this to be a safe place to connect as artists and leaders.  You can comment on every Main session and see all that’s going on around the campus.  Meet other teams and see what they are getting out of it.  Go behind the scenes and hear more from each of the speakers.  Tell your team or family that couldn’t be with you to follow along too.

Check out the videos on each session page and hear what Nancy is looking forward to in each session.  As for me, I’m most excited about getting to know you.  

What are you most looking forward to this week?  Click on “comments” and share your thoughts.

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