The PhD Winter Conference 2014 and a Dream I Had.


Right after the conference at Camp Hammer, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was painting a giant picture. It had a lot of nature in it and  was a beloved project. Around me was “the church,” and its people started painting on my giant wall-sized mural of a painting. I was ok with this, and thought it was cool for people to contribute. I grew sleepy and took a nap. When I woke up, my painting was completely covered over. What was an image of trees and grass became an image of a traditional looking Baptist church, completely indoors. My heart was broken. I wondered why they painted over my drawing, and I mourned the loss of my vision. Notably, I was ok when they started on my painting, but when I saw that it was completely covered, all I could wonder was, why didn’t they just start their own mural?

Now, I don’t normally remember my dreams, but this one is quite appropriate. It’s been said that I sometimes take initiative without consulting other involved parties. My reason is that I’m so used to working on projects with little support from others, I’ve prioritized getting things done over how they get done. On the flip-side, I often let other people have their way with my ideas, because I’m just happy that other people are interested. My dream is about the balance of sharing a vision with others.

Saturday, 3:45, in the image below, “Passion Start-Ups.” Already, I don’t like the name. I wanted to call it the Leadership Summit, or, my compromise, the Vision Summit. Many times that weekend did people get confused between Passion-Talks and Passion-Startups. The main speaker of the conference called it the “Passion thing” and “Passion groups,” because it’s confusing. In a post-mortem, I realized that I was picturing something totally different from the other leaders.

What they thought was very important and successful, I was ambivalent about. It went ok. What do I know? Maybe this is the fertile ground for world-changing endeavors. In regards to my dream, I think the importance is in noting that there are 2 potential murals being painted. I started painting one, and it led to having people paint over it into what was a more traditional setting. In the end, my initial canvas made way for others to create something. It wouldn’t make sense to paint over their painting as they did mine. I’ll just continue painting this “Leadership Summit” until it turns out.

Let’s say there were about 18-20 who came to Passion Start-Ups. I know that we needed at least 65 to sign up to even have the retreat, so there was a good amount of people who didn’t come. Last year, around this time, we had Passion Talks, so it’s been a traditionally experimental time of the conference.

I led the group in some Holy Spirit seeking vision casting. They sat there like potatoes, when it came time to share. It appears that I’m not in Kansas anymore, or Charismatic House Churches, to be more specific. I don’t know.. baby steps? As Heidi Baker put it, I wonder what it’d look like to fearlessly proclaim the dreams of God. Winter Conference is not quite there yet.

The brainstorm went ok. I presented them moments of meditation on the past, present, and future. We came up with 3 groups of ideas: (1) Bridging the Academy with the Church, (2) Bridging the Church with the Academy, and (3) Bridging our Vocation with the Needs of the World. My group, #3, was the smallest! Can you believe that? I was surprised that there was so much interest in bridging with the church. At least, I learned that this is divide is heavy on many of our hearts. My choosing #3 is just my way of not wanting to deal with it.

So, there you go. I’ll leave you with Kassa’s more eloquent followup email:

= Bridging the Academy to the Church =

Dear friends,

It has been exactly a week, to the hour, since we met to discuss what we can do within our respective small spheres of influence to further God’s Kingdom. Our group focussed on how we can bridge the gap between academia and the church. The purpose of this email is to remind us all a few of the pints we discussed and to urge us to lift the issue up to God in our prayers.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

While we fully acknowledge the limits of our capacity and surrender to God the fulfillment of the desire of our hearts, we understand that we have an active role to play in our Father’s vineyard.

The Gap

After discussing briefly what we thought were the problems causing the gap between the church and academia, we began pondering about how the church, which once birthed the academy and nurtured it to adulthood, can reestablish its culture of embracing every truth seeking endeavor. We agreed that the main problem was not the luck of intellectually fulfilling and scriptural synthesis of faith and academic endeavors, but that of cultural shift that made the church suspicious of intellectual endeavors.

The solution

The solution is “simple” in principle though difficult and very long term in its execution. We need to engage the church to influence its culture.

Our unique roles

As people who know both sides of the gap, we play unique roles in bridging the divide. To bring the change we hope to see, we have to begin by acknowledging that we wield considerable influence. Let us rid ourselves (I know I desperately need this) of the false humility that says, “we are insignificant and powerless to bring change”.

Simple first steps

Engaging the church’s culture requires us to be immersed in the modern avenues of culture making, i.e., web-based, popular modes of communication. Those of us in academia are not known to excel at these things. I myself have deactivated my facebook account many years ago and am not on twitter, instagram, etc. But this is something for us all to consider.

In addition, we agreed that befriending people at our church who are not in academia, serving as Sunday school teachers, and helping organize conferences and panel discussions at our churches that feature genuine Christians engaged in research will be valuable.

The most important first step, though, would be to pray consistently for the Lord to open doors and opportunities and to show us the way that we can be useful. I urge us all to please lift this issue up in our prayers regularly and consistently and let one another know if we find doors opening for effective ministry.

Let us keep the conversation going!

Here was mine:

Our session: Bridging our Influence to the Needs of the World

3 initiatives discussed

1) A brainstorming day to connect/celebrate local service groups, or create now ones.

2) A startup to help Nonprofits with research and technology.

3) PhD w/o borders. Training teachers all over the world.

Here’s a video of my trip to Santiago:

All I feel right now, is that it’s a confusing time in life, especially if you straddle faith and the academy. In other aspects of the conference, Francis Su was pretty cool– apparently, a well known Math prof from Harvey Mudd. He was very sincere and open about his journey, and gave a great talk about interviewing for Academic positions.

I had him pray for my PhD work. I can use all the supernatural power-ups I can get… lol.


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