This week, around six thousand Christian men and women came together in Orlando, Florida, for The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 National Conference, the theme of which was the new heavens and the new earth. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a few reflections on the teaching we all received, but I first want share a few of personal reflections from the event. As you may know, for many of us, these conferences are as much about relationships as about the material (if not more so). Here are three highlights:
Connecting with friends, old and new. When most people think a conference full of introverts, they usually don’t think relationship stuff would be high on the list of priorities. Yet, one of the best things about TGC and other conferences is catching up with friends, and making some new ones. Yesterday, I finally reconnected with Julian (a pastor who lives in Toronto), spent time with Noel (also a pastor in the Toronto area), Andrew and Gary (both of whom minister north of my community). I also enjoyed a great lunch with Kevin Halloran (loved hearing more about the ministry where God has placed him), and talking with Chris and Alyssa (and cuddle up with their baby girl, Geneva Mae).
And then there was Disney. Yes, Wednesday night I, along with my friend Matt and a couple of his colleagues, when to Downtown Disney (couldn’t do the theme park this time) to enjoy dinner and try to pick up something for our kids. But the magic we were to experience on the outskirts of the magic kingdom was black with what was perhaps the most comically bad service any of us had ever experienced in a restaurant. It did, however, lead to many hilarious (for us) comments, some of which I will now share with you, with very little context:
Matt: “First John was full of lies and second John was full of inconsistencies.”
Second John: “I’ve got the perfect surprise to end your night.”
Me: “You’re going to murder us?”
After we received our “surprise”:
Every staff person in the restaurant, ever: “Oh, wow! Doesn’t that look amazing? Isn’t it good? We had 13 people in our group during training and we couldn’t even make a dent out of it.”
Me: “Well, it’s… big.”
The only thing that could make us feel better was getting our picture taken Cinderella:
(Or, at least a statue of her.)
Celebrating their successes. My friend Matt’s 12 week study of Hebrews releases in June. Dan’s got a new book coming out with Baker. And then there’s Derek, a great guy I met two years ago at TGC and had not yet published his first article on the site. Now he’s taking the TGC-friendly blogosphere by storm. This has been wonderful to see, as Derek is a really sharp guy and a gifted communicator. (And if you don’t follow him, you really should.)
Cultivating new opportunities. This week, I also had the chance to talk with friends and acquaintances from the publishing world, which I always love. Out of that, I have a couple of proposals I’m putting together to shop around that, if one or both are accepted, would be a lot of fun to write. I’ll keep you posted on how those go (and your prayers are much appreciated).
There’s a lot that happened over the course of the last three days, and I’m sure I’ll remember something else that was absolutely amazing tomorrow, but these are probably the three biggest moments of the conference from a personal perspective for me.
Were you at TGC this year? What was a particular highlight for you?