I've been putting off organizing my thoughts on the GCN conference for a while now, but it's time to bite the bullet and get down to it. Part of what follows I already posted on GCN, but I wanted to expand a bit on some of the thoughts that I shared there.
I'll admit I came to the conference with relatively low expectations. I expected to have a good time (and I did), but spiritually I didn't expect to receive any great epiphanies. The daily grind has a way of numbing the soul, and it doesn't help that my job keeps me firmly ensconced in the evangelical subculture that I no longer identify with. I wasn't close to losing my faith in God, but I was cultivating a cynicism toward all things Christian that left my spiritual life somewhat lacking.
And there weren't any moments when the clouds parted, or anything like that. But there were some very powerful moments during worship, and there was no way to remain unmoved hearing story after story of all the ways God is at work in so many people's lives. I wish there was a way that more people could have heard the sharing time on Saturday night. God is active and moving at GCN in ways that can't possibly be explained away as the devil's trickery or some sort of "spiritual residue," as conservative theologians like to dismiss anything pertaining to gay Christians.
I see in GCN what the church could become. At this one small conference we had people representing an improbably wide array of denominations, ethnicities, ages, economic backgrounds and theological perspectives, all united around their faith in Jesus Christ. Not everyone who attended was gay, and not everyone who attended believes that same-sex relationships are blessed by God. But the community that was experienced there was so compelling that nobody left unchanged - even the hotel staff was drawn to what they saw during our stay, which (sadly) is far from a given where Christian conferences are concerned.
It may be the idealist within me speaking, but I believe that what is happening at GCN represents a possible future for the church as a whole. Such unity may seem impossible now short of one side eradicating the other, but if all things truly are possible with God, then perhaps one day we will learn how to regard those who disagree with us as brothers and sisters.