Friday, July 25, 2014

An Episcopal Priest and World Domination

WDS 2014 getting ready to roll!
This is the third (and last) major conference I decided to attend during my sabbatical. Actually, it is the first that I decided to attend--right after the one I attended last year. Just like last year, however, one of my recurring questions was: "How am I going to explain to my congregation why I spent sabbatical money attending a conference entitled the World Domination Summit? This is not a church conference. It isn't even a conference about the Christian faith, though it arguably is a conference about faith.

When I am asked why I am attending this conference, I generally say the same thing--I attend because it is a conference unlike any other. Most conferences are "how to" conferences. In my case, most are about how to pray more, grow your church, reach out to the "unchurched", address the spiritual needs of Millennials (the "unreached people group" of our time) or something similar. It is also what might be called an "insiders" conference. Mostly it is church people talking with church people. The World Domination Summit is different. It is a multicultural, multigenerational gathering of people from a huge variety of backgrounds--from a woman I met who repurposes used clothing as fashionable new clothing to someone I met who is beginning to think about how to use her recovery from a disease via nutrition as a business, to me, an Episcopal priest. It also isn't a "how to" as much as it is a "why do" conference.

The tag line for WDS is "living an extraordinary life in a conventional world." And there are some extraordinary people, both on stage and in the audience, most of whom likely think that they are ordinary. WDS has given me an opportunity to interact with a variety of culturally creative people who examplify the WDS core values of community, adventure, and service. Unlike many people I have met in the church, WDS doesn't just assume or value community, it celebrates community. Where else can you receive a "high five" as you come in the door for each session?
High fives entering the auditorium
Are we ever that excited about church? WDS also promotes adventure--most often by example. Hearing stories of people moving beyond their fears to accomplish some truly remarkable things (even if it is to simply live their lives by design rather than expectation) is truly inspirational. Finally, WDS invites people into service. This is far from the "live your life on your terms and make lots of money doing it" conference. It is more like a "do something good for yourself and for the world" conference. Speaker after speaker, and attendee after attendee, shared stories of how they have put themselves out there in service to others and, in doing so, found themselves living extraordinary lives.

As I did last year, I find myself reflecting on how much my faith in Jesus Christ should and does help me to live a life of courage and purpose. A life, as Michael Hyatt suggested, is designed rather than driven. I also think about how much fear and timidity often hold me back from following through on many of the ideas I have. Finally, I realize that daily life itself often conspires to distract us and divert us from doing the things we believe we are called to do.

I feel pretty confident in asserting that I was the only Episcopal priest out of 3,000 people that attended the World Domination Summit this year. I hope and pray that I can continue to work on living an uncommon and faithful life in the midst. Equally, I hope and pray that I can inspire members of the congregation I serve to do the same.

1 comment:

MarthaG said...

Lovely post. Hope you can attend next year.