It was such a blessing to have Scot McKnight on campus this last week to speak at the conference. You can find his thoughts about the conference in this blog post that was originally posted on Scot’s blog. We would also encourage you to read his blog that has many excellent and thought provoking posts.
When we got home Saturday evening from our trip to Wichita for the Aprentis Institute/Renovare event at Friends University, Kris sat back and observed that she thought this was her favorite event that we’d ever been to. Why? Because of Dallas Willard. I have to agree.
At the airport I told Dallas that he reminds me of Johnny Wooden, and yes he knew Coach Wooden and thought it was a compliment to be likened to Wooden. Perhaps we can say what Wooden was to basketball Willard is to the spiritual formation movement.
A few highlights: the opening session was by Dallas where he sketched his normal vision of the formation of character so that we followers of Jesus might develop what he called an “easy holiness.” I loved the expression because of its jolting connection but also because he was seeking to show that over time, under the power of God’s grace, we can develop a kind of holiness where it is not so much a battle or a war but a way of life. This “easy holiness” is Christlikeness, and Dallas’ address included serious discussion of his VIM idea: we need to have a vision, we need to have intention, and we need to use the means of spiritual disciplines.
I always pay attention to the order of a line-up at events, and know that anyone who is slated for a 9pm session better have some energy and skill in communication. Jim Smith’s got both: he explained a “reliable pattern for transformation” in what might be called the “Smith Triangle.” Surrounding the power of the Holy Spirit to transform — I haven’t been to any conference where I heard so much about the Holy Spirit and that was a highlight for me — are three points in a triangle: Adopting the Narratives of Jesus, Engaging in Soul Training Exercises, and Participating in Community. Jim is known for developing his very significant idea: that we have to learn to avoid toxic narratives rooted in false views of God and learn to dwell in the Jesus-shaped narrative of the Bible. Jim’s time went fast… and doing that at that hour is an accomplishment.
My talk was Saturday at 9AM, and I’m always grateful for an early morning slot because folks are awake! I sketched the transformation of Peter, and one of my images was the contrast between the rather unassuming “not much” place of Capernaum as compared to the colossal St Peter’s in Rome. Peter himself was transformed that much, and his character was reshaped in three directions: a life shaped by the cross, a life that embodied the gospel for all people, and a life that saw the essence of formation in becoming a person who loves God and loves others.
Mindy Caliguire, our friend at Willow, did the second slot Saturday morning, and her talk revolved around a central focus on the ordinary life for ordinary people. Mindy’s approach is cyclical: she returns to her central theme from a variety of directions. The big idea is that pastoral soul care is in need of serious, serious attention — her numbers were staggering. I wanted to get her numbers after the session but there were too many folks asking questions. Pastors, she was arguing, need to spend time with God because they, too, need ordinary days with God the way ordinary folks do. She used two chairs to show that God brings it all to us and we are called to be open and available to the work of God in our life — a life of faith that is oriented toward God.
I could mention many people, and just can’t, but Kris and I got to meet and spend time with Jim and Lorraine Hiskey, a friend of one my good friends, and that was a special time for both of us. And a very special thanks to Scott and Vicky, our hosts, for making sure we got where we needed to be when we were supposed to be there.
- Scot McKnight -