I attended the Verge Conference last week which was more of an experience than a conference. It was the best conference I’ve ever been to and I’m still processing the abundance of God-centered teaching that came our way. As I’ve thought about the conference and compared it to others that I’ve attended, I just keep asking myself, what sets the Verge Conference apart from the rest? What makes Verge so much better than Passion, Exponential, or The Elephant Room?
I’ve landed on 3 things because I didn’t want to write a book about a conference.
There was a whole day of breakout sessions for Missional Communities, for mercy & justice, and for global missions. In the middle there were 2 full days of main sessions structured like TED talks.
There was a ton of information, but it never felt disconnected because of one main stream of thought toward the Kingdom of God and the reign of Christ breaking into our lives, our churches, and the world.
Jesus was lifted high from start to finish and ministry strategy or methods or celebrity pastorism ever took precedence over knowing and obeying God. I never felt like someone was shamelessly plugging himself or herself or that it was an emotional experience lacking practical steps to obedience.
The idea that Jesus came to end brokenness, sickness, and disconnection through His death and resurrection to become the gracious and reigning king and now empowers people to extend His kingdom (not our own) was the consistent and primary theme of Verge 2012
2. Kingdom Effectiveness over Dogmatic Debate
If you were to do a theological survey of the speakers, undoubtedly you would find that they differ, but the God-centeredness of each of their time trumped their theological differences.
This may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but the condensed structure of the talks placed the priority on equipping people for kingdom-effectiveness over defending their theology.
This wasn’t an Elephant Room type controversy where there were obvious Trinity & gospel of Jesus Christ differences; these differences lie in secondary issues while all affirm and lift high God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The primary aim of every talk was not to push a specific strategy or way, but to inspire people to participating in bring the gracious reign of Christ into the world.
3. Equipping All for Kingdom Ministry
Lastly, this wasn’t just a pastor’s conference. It was structure to allow people to take a day off work and be equipped through breakouts in their primary ministry area. It wasn’t focused on building a mega-church or the pastor’s heart. The aim of Verge was to equip all the saints, every Christian, for the work of extending the message and mercy of Jesus Christ.
This came about through the diversity of the speakers, but also through a unique twist they called the unConference which I had never seen before. A large portion of each day was given to allow anyone to dictate the topic. Anyone could approach the 2 large whiteboards, write down the topic, location and time to process, share, and encourage one another.
This provided learning for every church leader, from volunteer to lead pastor.
I enjoyed attending Verge 2012 after being there in 2010. In 2010 it seemed that a lot of the leaders of this idea were meeting and getting to know one another. Two years later it feels more like a movement that collaborates and celebrates the ideas of all that are involved. I’m looking forward to getting all the Verge content in a few weeks.
This is only a reality where kingdom-focus trumps celebrity pastor, method propagation, and dogmatic debate.