I spent the weekend chaperoning for my church’s youth group. It was a conference I attended for seven years as a youth. I remember having a good time, but coming home and thinking, “That satisfied me for a year.” I think it’s a great conference, but it’s not the way I worship, and most the speakers aren’t giving a message I particularly need. And the format is geared to get teenagers hyped up, but that’s not my worship style. Just as I’m sure the Gloria Patri makes some kids uncomfortable and bored, repeating the same line over and over (and over and over) of some contemporary Christian song with arms held up makes me uncomfortable and bored. But I think it’s beneficial to change it up once in a while. It makes me pay attention and keeps my mind open.
So I went with an open mind only to find that the speaker was the same man who spoke seven years ago. I can’t remember all the speakers, but I remembered this one because I disliked him so much. And not only was it the same man, but it was the exact same sermon. Apparently, that’s his “thing.” And I tried to listen with fresh ears and not judge, but I still came out disliking him. I couldn’t pin down why: his starting each session by calling his wife a "righteous fox, cha-ching," his humor about his ADHD which is so over-the-top it made me feel like he was super insecure about it, the way he divided believers up so that only Road to Damascus believers count, or the arrogance of “I’ve done this and it was awesome” and “You should do this like me." that made it more about him than any message. The combination had me totally turned off by the Saturday night chair throwing and altar call.
Yet, most people seemed to have a genuine response to it. I wasn’t sure how many were really having a religious experience or just following what their friends were doing. If it was real, I was definitely missing something in the air. I just don’t respond to mass conversions, especially mass conversions of people who obviously already have some church rooting if they are attending a conference. My faith is independent, and my awakenings and reaffirmations are 1. individual and 2. continuous. If it really did affect that many as a legitimate change, then it’s wonderful, but I can’t see it. So I keep seeking…
[Picture is of artist who painted Jesus in the time span of about four songs during one of the sessions. It was much more inspiring than the messages from the speaker.]