Thursday, April 8, 2010

What if Rick Warren was invited to speak at your conference?

As a recent volunteer for my PresWIC, I was privileged to serve on the council, assisting with all the details and publication of the event. The invitations, the crafts and take away gifts were a blast to put together with the other women on the council. The five of us had grown very close and were so thrilled with being able to serve the 150-200 women who attended our conference two weeks ago.

On the last night of our group assembly project, we five friends gathered once more for putting together the folders and handouts. When our president laid out the handouts for the speaker's material, I was immediately overcome by a tremendous nausea, my face turned bright red, and it felt like it was on fire. I could not believe what I was looking at. Every page was covered with quotes from Rick Warren! At a PCA Conference! Didn't anyone on the council know how controversial his material is? Didn't anyone know what she was speaking about?

None of that actually came out of my mouth, but everyone sitting there could tell by the mortified look on my face and the fact that it was probably changing every shade of red and purple, that something was wrong with me. My very next instinct was to pray about what I should say or do. At that moment, my care and concern for the others over rode my righteous indignation, and I made a choice not to say anything in front of everyone. Instead waited until the president and I were able to talk about it. I simply told her that since we are PCA, I thought there may be some people at the conference who will not appreciate the fact that the speaker is teaching out of the Purpose Driven Life and quoting Rick Warren, since he's not reformed. She was very concerned about that and trusts me on those types of issues. As a result, we decided to share our concern and the speaker's handouts with our liaison at the Presbytery -- just days before the conference. We had to make one minor change and that was it. Approved.

Conference day came, and about 150 or more women were blessed. The message was solid. Nobody walked out of the church (as far as we know), and the speaker did a really good job and got excellent reviews on the survey.

Do I have a point to any of this? Well, yes, two actually.

#1: Discernment and concern about doctrine and truth is an important issue. We need people on our team who can help us with these things, because we don't know what we don't know. So I am grateful for men with discernment who can help guide us with these issues. We really do need to be listening to them and appreciating their gifting, input, and leading in these areas.

And #2: (for me most importantly) All things being otherwise equal: Relationships are always more important than our visceral reactions. I could have set off the warning alarms, threw up all kinds of red flags, and alerted everyone involved to "the potential controversy." The Lord knows that's what I wanted to do in the worst way. But I also knew that it was not the right thing to do, because these were people I valued, cared about, and had gotten to know over many weeks of preparing for the conference. It would have been the most unloving thing for me to do, to try to "get them to understand" what I saw and to even think about it the way that I did. I just think it would have ruined the conference, or at a minimum made them feel differently about all the work that they put into the event.

Instead, I got schooled. (Yep, God's got a strange sense of humor, but He is always right and has impeccable timing.) Taking it offline and getting help from the presbytery, from a man in a position to make the call, was the right thing to do.
See Phil Johnson's post today for an even better assessment of the effects that the unbridled passion of discernment can have.


InAwe said...

Dude. (I mean dudette) You're on a tare. That was awesome! I know how tough that had to be for you - you were like ready to explode, I bet.

Hey, the conference went great. I admit that I winced a coupla times when she said "Rick Warren says in the Purpose Driven Life...." I mean it's too bad. Cause the quotes she used actually weren't bad. But too bad it had to be PDL. Anyway. The conference was phat! You guys did sooo much work, it was awesome. See ya...

Deb said...

Thanks. Good to see you there and glad you enjoyed it.
I was happy to see you at the book table. Missed you at lunch :)