Here are some observations from my time here at Oxygen 2014 so far.
First, there is a danger that, in trying to bring people together from a broad spectrum of Christian circles, we can so dilute the content of our combined fellowship as to make it tepid. For instance, the most beneficial plenary session so far, from my perspective, has been John Lennox’s apologetic discussion. Not because it was necessarily exceptional in it’s content, but because it addressed a difficult debate head-on and spoke decisively to that debate. That is what a Christian leaders conference is best suited to do.
Second, in assigning generic topics to the world-class line-up of speakers at Oxygen, it seems to me that the plenary sessions have been turned fairly generic. They seem to address neither the pressing issues of the day, nor the areas of expertise represented by the speakers. Thinking back to Oxygen 2011, someone who attended got a clear feel for the passion and strengths of the ministries of John Lennox and John Piper. But neither Don Carson nor Bryan Chapell have spoken in their areas of strength so far. Will Francis Chan be the same? I would be disappointed to walk away from this event without having a clear, first-hand feel for the passion and ministry-emphasis of Chapell and Chan. I suspect attendance at all of the elective sessions is where this is intended to happen.
First, it is wonderful to have a world-class line-up of conservative evangelical speakers in Sydney. Ministry leaders from far and wide have the opportunity this week to be challenged, encouraged, and built by men well qualified to the task. Australia has not always had such opportunities. I’m thankful we have this opportunity.
Second, I appreciate the music so far. It has attempted, I feel, to be unifying, sound in doctrine, singable, and—most important to me—participatory. The people want to sing! The musicians are making it easy for them to do so.
Third, the fellowship and camaraderie of our fellowship in Christ—a sound, contentful fellowship—is one of the great blessings of such a conference as this. Isolation is difficult and damaging. Thank God for opportunities like this!
I’m looking forward to the coming sessions and will attempt to offer some theological discussion here God willing at some point. Don’t forget to follow the tweet stream throughout the day at @teaminfocus.
Grace to you.