So we've tried to get a little more...what's the word I'm looking for?...professional?...forward-thinking?...in letting people know about the Blue Ocean Summit this year, so you may have heard from us in one form or another in the last few days. But, on the off-chance that you haven't, let me be the first to tell you that you should make a pretty good effort to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts this August 1-3.
Let me back up and give you some of the rationale of this gathering. Maybe five years ago it struck me and a few of you that there was no place that we were aware of to talk about the things about God and the world around us that we were most interested in talking about. Yes, many of us were in the sort of world where we could go to really impressive, well-run conferences about God and churches, which was great in its own way, but wasn't this thing that most interested us. Should we notice that we lived in fascinating, usually pretty secular cities that we loved? Was there anything we should be noticing about that? Did our connection with God have anything to contribute to this conversation? Was--strange as it might sound--any chance we could, say, collaborate with our city in a way that would bring more of God into it? Basically it just didn't seem fun to us--all of whom were churchgoers--to think that our task was entirely to build context-free "great churches" in hopes that we'd be discovered someday by our city, like a starlet at a cafe.
So, with only that amorphous idea, about a dozen of us journeyed to Cambridge to talk more about this. The next year we invited a very few more people and had "talks" and "workshops" and that definitely moved us forward a bit. The following year we invited zero new people and canned a bunch of the talks and most of the workshops and instead put our heads together once again about what we were learning. Last year we tried to strike a nice middle ground and had lots more people show up.
And this year we're going as far as we've ever gone to try to partner with some impressive people in many different fields on the intuition that the time has come for the faith we've been talking about to be pretty darn helpful in some pretty darn unexpected pockets of our larger world.
So Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann will lay out some of the most-compelling perspectives I've yet heard about how a type of faith very close to the one we find ourselves talking about might well be uniquely suited to this historical moment. (I managed to mess up--on the technical side--two different attempts at a podcast with Tanya last week. She's abandoned us and gone to Turkey. But I'll try again late next week when she gets back, and you can learn more.)