Yesterday was a unique numerical day. If I were inclined to love zany Zeitgeist theories and Van Impe fantasy tales, I would have taken out my binoculars and searched the horizon for an upside down Antichrist leaping from Harpo’s latest infomercial broadcast. Instead, I tuned into a virtual leadership conference called The Nines.
I confess that at first, it seemed really nerdy and just another attempt at being ‘cool’ and some of the names I saw in the lineup were folks that I do not believe have a firm grasp of either the gospel or church. Then I thought about it from a technological standpoint. I looked at it as a unique use of a great time in history where how we communicate with each other changes so fast, that by the time you learn one niche, it seems to be obsolete. Every advance in technology is met with both awe and criticism. I remember when I was in college and cell phones looked like those huge GI Joe battle radios and people thought it was absolutely ridiculous to have one. Only the wealthy had them and very few saw what was coming down the pike re: tiny hand-held flip phones and text message mania.
So now we’re here in multi-platformed communique where if you can’t use a browser you’re considered ‘out the loop’. Only dinosaurs can’t type on keyboards. So why not use these great advancements for the Kingdom? Why not embrace technology as God’s providential means of connecting us more easily to education and encouragement?
I tuned in at nine minutes to nine just to have my own little geeky fun since the conference was supposed to start at nine after nine. I watched about an hour of the conference and have assembled, in continued geek fun, a list of nine observations about The Nines.
1. The technology involved in the video stream and connectivity amazed me.
The video was seamless and the sense of being right with the speaker was attractive even though one particular speaker was so close to the cam that I felt like I was in a Seinfeld skit about close talkers.
2. The technology still needs to improve.
I have only recently entered into the Twitter zone and have been pleasantly surprised with Facebook after boycotting it for many years. While some nitwits feel compelled to broadcast every inane and boring detail of their lives through social media, I have found a great benefit in being edified by good posts and keeping up with friends and the world.
That being said, there needs to be more real time text applications. Instant messaging isn’t always very instant and the delays in postings create an un-dialogue. For this reason, I’m very much looking forward to Google Wave’s launch.
3. I kept thinking some speakers were trying too hard to be cool.
I’m not judging hearts, I’m speaking about my own perception. A danger in newness is that it tends to lead us into trendiness. Trendiness is hip at the time but can lack genuineness. If authenticity is replaced with ‘fitting in’ the smell of plasticity will overpower the message. So, if you are already hip, stay hip. If you’re a nerd, be one.
4. Having over nine thousand participants logged in is encouraging.
As the apostolic prayer requested that the gospel run rapidly through the cities (2 Thess. 3:1), what better way to spread truth than through such incredible technologies.
5. We still equate church growth with numbers and virtually ignore internal growth.
God builds His church and while we should always rejoice in more and more people coming into the Kingdom, it does not happen because of our strategy. While we should be focused on functioning well in our labors, we should be more focused on whether or not we are making true disciples.
6. I think sometimes I’m too critical of honest attempts at doing things better and in the process lose focus on what is good.
Just because someone may be overboard in their approach doesn’t mean that they have nothing good at all to say. Just because they miss the mark in one are doesn’t mean that I can’t grow from something else they may have right. Just because I agree with this doesn’t mean I won’t stop criticizing. May I do it in the right spirit.
7. Leadership is best taught by the art of do
Show them. Teach them. Identify them. Let them. Help them. Lead them. Duplication.
8. There is so much to learn.
Wherever I hear so much from so many I feel overwhelmed and it reminds me that I will be a student my entire life while at the same time teaching. We transfer from one baton to the next what has been given to us to learn and pass on. Mentoring facilitates discipling.
9. Nine really is a good number.
Short, simple and clear means more effectiveness especially in front of the backdrop of busyness. We spend far too much time being distracted and much less time staying focused. The Nines helped me remember to focus more precisely.