ONLY SOCIAL MOVEMENTS really change history. Developing, nurturing, and supporting a new generation of leaders is central to the long-term success of these movements. As leaders like me get older and look to the future, mentoring young leaders is particularly important. More and more of my time is spent doing that mentoring, not only broadly but in relationship to particularly promising young leaders whom I have met. It is some of the most important and enjoyable work that I do.
For many years, Sojourners called together large conferences on biblical justice and peace. Thousands of people came year after year, and many positive things happened—new relationships, connections, projects, and organizations—even marriages and families! Now, several other groups are having justice and peace conferences, which is exactly the kind of “competition” Sojourners has always hoped for.
Last year, some of our younger staff came up with a great idea—to have a leadership “Summit” for people already providing leadership for the biblical vision of justice and peace. All the participants would have to be nominated by credible leaders doing this work, and instead of Justice 101 with big speakers and standing ovations, this would become a new, creative environment for moving justice agendas forward—Justice 202. We didn’t publicly advertise these gatherings—instead, the invitation spread by word of mouth as leaders, especially younger ones, were drawn together by experienced justice leaders who nominated them.
Mark Driscoll is back. Kind of.
The controversial founder of Mars Hill Church who stepped down last week offered a brief address at the Gateway Conference on Oct. 20. Initially, he and conference organizers agreed that he would not give a formal address at the conference.
But Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, said Driscoll requested to come to the conference as an attendee. “That was big of him to just come and be ministered to,” Morris said.
“We could crucify him, but since someone’s already been crucified for him…” he trailed off. “It’s very sad that in the church, we’re the only army that shoots at our wounded. And I’d like you to stop it.”
Driscoll’s resignation came in the wake of accusations of plagiarism, bullying and an oversized ego that alienated some of his most devoted followers.
Conference attendees gave Driscoll a standing ovation as Morris handed him the microphone.
“What do you want me to do?” Driscoll asked Morris, teasing him about the dangers of giving “a microphone to a preacher who’s been gone for a while.”
This past weekend I attended the memorial for a very dear friend and amazing individual, Richard Twiss. Richard, who was a descendent of the Sioux and Lakota tribes of South Dakota, was a scholar, writer, speaker and thought leader. Richard was also a follower of Jesus.
Richard was both one of the most personable and charismatic individuals I’ve ever met. He had a way about him. I’ve never known someone so authentic and full of love as to make everyone he spent time with feel unique, special and valuable. Richard was also one of the sharpest prophetic voices I’ve ever heard. He was unyielding with logic and his respect for truth. He was hard as nails when it came to excuses from others who would try to compromise truth. Truth, for Richard, was unwavering.
If I was able to ask Richard today how best to honor him, I know that — after talking about his concern for his wife, kids, and grandkids — he would expect me to use my voice to speak truth.
Sometimes folks ask me if I’ve spoken at any conferences that I get excited about. I’ll be speaking more than 150 times this next year in about a dozen countries — at all sorts of events from a Spanish speaking conference in Florida to an economic think-tank in DC to schools here in North Philly and 30,000 Lutherans in New Orleans.
This year is going to be a blast. I decided to make a list of a few of the events that are real highlights for me in 2012. They are each unique and innovative, and a couple are in their infancy.
Here they are…Five Great Gatherings in 2012: