I’m not going to be heading out to Malibu for the Pepperdine Lectures this year. I’m torn about this. I will miss the many friends that I only see there, and the few brilliant glimmers of innovation, evolution and creativity. But I also won’t have to drown my sorrow in the reality that nothing is really changing, and that the CoC tribe, just like everyone else, loves to talk about talking about things.
For those who will be going for the first time this year, I offer my humble suggestions as how to make the most of your time there.
1. If at all feasible, do not stay in the dorms. There are nice, cheap hotels on the eastern side of Malibu Canyon off of Lost Hills rd. Trust me on this.
2. Eat here, here, and here. Eat in the cafeteria to network, else elsewhere to truly dine.
3. The main sessions are nice, but built around a baby-boomer perception of what a Lecture main session should look like. Keep your expectations of these tent pole programs reasonable.
4. Don’t go to a session every time one is held. Sleep in, go to the beach, eat well (see above), rent a board and catch a wave. The next few days are not life, they are for your encouragement, equipment, and refreshment. Sometimes that means catching a pint or two with old friends. Don’t feel guilty about it.
5. DO NOT TAKE PART IN THE CELEBRITY MAKING MACHINE. We’re all trench gals and guys. Of all the things I thought baffled me the most at church conferences, this one is the greatest. It’s weird and feels unnatural, like a countryman mic.
6. If you are offering a lecture, let it go. You’ve done the hard work, you’ve prepped and stressed out about it. It’s out of your hands now, it’s your audiences to make of it what they will. Give it to them, and walk away. If it’s truly meant to be a gift, it can’t be yours any longer.
7. Everyone who is speaking has worked their asses off to present a good lecture. Some of them won’t be. That’s okay. Meat and bones, yeah? Make sure you thank anyone who you’ve listened too (unless they are surrounded by the entourage and college aged volunteers who give you the non-verbals that this person is much, much too busy for you).
8. Most likely if you are reading this, your natural hair color is still a bit more it’s original tone than it is grey. You will be the minority, so a severe extent at the lecture. Please, be discouraged by this. It’s not anecdotal, it is speaking directly to the condition of the times, and the fact that you won’t be able to get a senior pastoral job because no boomer is retiring anymore. If space won’t be made, it is time to make our own chairs and pull up to the table.
9. Support the gender-justice movements at the lecture. They are small only because they need more visionaries and people with conviction to demand that they be heard. I’d say something about LGBT justice, but no one at Pepperdine is going to even touch that with a thirty foot rod (but all they have to do is invite me….) 🙂
10. Stairs, man. You don’t even know.
11. If there is a Twitter meet up, let them know that @alxndrcampbell says hello from sunny AZ, and he is deeply blessed by his time with his Methodist brothers and sisters.
12. If you run into Charlton Taylor, tell him’ “Keep doin’ your thing, homie”.
13. Everyone is shorter than they appear on the internet. Prepare yourself for this.
14. Hug many youth ministers. They are barely making a living for doing a job that rational human beings would never have the sense to do.
15. Buy a church planter a meal (not cafeteria food) while you are there. It may be the only meal they eat that week.
Alright. That’s enough for now. I hope this helps.
I, your liberal, brooding, black-sheep of a brother wish you a tremendous time. Be blessed, and genuinely enjoy it. It is a special time, and as much as I am critical of a chunk of it, I miss it when I don’t get to attend.
Maybe I’ll show up in 2015. It’s not like they can black list attendees, right????