Frothy Monkey and ZOE Conference

Back in Nashville again. I’m posting this from a coffee shop called The Frothy Monkey. Pure Nashville 21st Century with musician artists blazing the web on their Macbooks, perhaps self-Googling to see who’s noticed their music today.

I left a piece of my heart and writing work here in Nashville and make trips three times a year to catch up with writing/editing projects, keep up with a few friends, and, this trip, come to ZOE Conference.

Brian McLaren will be here later today and speak twice Friday and once Saturday. Looking forward to how his talks on “Via Contemplativa and Via Activa” fold into the Growing Deeper sessions with our spiritual directors, Randy Harris, Jackie Halstead, and Gary Holloway. Participants will hear Randy’s and Brian’s keynotes then attend sessions on Sabbath, Silence, and . . . can’t remember the other one right now.

Lauren Winner

winner-lauren.jpgLauren Winner is coming to ZOE this Thursday and Friday.

I interviewed her a few years ago by phone and have enjoyed and been moved by her story and her courageous writing style and content. She is a daughter of a Reform Jewish father and a lapsed Baptist mother. During her freshman year at Columbia University, she converted to Orthodox Judaism. She studied in England, receiving a master’s degree from Cambridge University, and during that time she was baptized into Christ.

If you were thinking of coming to ZOE, haven’t made reservations, but you really want to go, see if you can shift some things around and come. I talked to Eric and the Leadership Conference and Worship Conference registration both total around 1,200 but there’s still space and you can register here.

Go to Wineskins to read an excerpt from her recent book, Real Sex.

ZOE Conference

We start planning the ZOE “Look to the Hills” Leadership and Worship Conferences in the Spring and the first one is in Nashville the first weekend in October each year.

This year the theme is “Closer,” not to be confused with the homonym name for a popular TV show. This is closer as in intimacy and drawing near to God. I’ll let the cat out of the bag here a little bit because I’ll be happy to have input as we put some finishing touches on the sub-themes.

In the last two years I’ve invited my friend and co-worker, Wade Hodges, who Mark Riddle calls one of the greatest thinkers in Tulsa. Yeah, that’s about right, but once you get out of Tulsa, he’s about par with guys like N.T. Wright and McLaren and they could probably outwit him on a given day, if not outpublish him, though not digitally, because like Riddle I’ve used my own superlatives for Wade, one of the best bloggers “we” have, the “we” meaning Christian progressives I guess, and Wade is currently my favorite preacher, and he’s also in good company there, where some of my favorites and friends have been Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly, John York, John Barton, Mark Moore, Deron Smith, not to leave out prominent other friends and family of mine who I’ve worked with but these are guys out there preaching regularly or semi-regularly.

Back to subthemes for ZOE leadership part of the conference . . .

Wade had the idea for breaking the Closer theme into these four subthemes: we draw near to God through Heart, Head, Hands, Home. So we’ll have “discerning communities” led by four people who I’ll announce in a few days. Our keynote speaker who will deal with the main theme that leads to these breakout discerning communities (everyone will go to each of the four subtheme breakouts), is Lauren Winner. If you haven’t read Lauren Winner’s writing, you are missing one of the great, authentic and engaging writers of our day. Her first breakaway book was Girl Meets God and her most recent is Real Sex. I’ll be featuring excerpts from her writing in Wineskins in the parallel universe Wineskins issue also called “Closer.”

I primarily draw near to God through home: right now I experience God with, in, and through my wife and children and how we are drawing near to God and being shaped into Christ’s image together. I have exchanged much of my “personal” time with God for family Scripture reading, storytelling, and prayer.

Where do you most often draw near to God? Through head (study, Bible), heart (emotion, prayer, spirit), home (shared experiences in family), or hands (service experiences)? What stories can you tell about that?