after many years of intending to get there, i finally made it to this year's midwinter conference of the evangelical covenant church -- an illuminating experience in more ways than one.
the first night i was there, i ran into at least a half a dozen former intervarsity folks -- some from my generation, others who were middleschoolers(!) when i first met them. it felt a little like a family reunion. maybe that's not a huge surprise, as my five cent analysis of the covenant is that it's what intervarsity would be if it were a denomination -- solid on the non-negotiables, more flexible around the edges, mission-driven (and they share remarkably similar missions to boot). in particular, i was drawn to their commitment to a kingdom-centered gospel proclaimed in word and deed, to people of every tongue, tribe, and nation. it felt a little bit like home.
the feeling didn't last. when i went to the reception for church planters, i found myself in a room of very loud guys, and most of them seemed to be about half my age. i enjoyed their energy and hearing about their hopes and dreams for the churches they were starting, but i did feel a bit out of place. not only was i an odd fit age-wise, the only church i ever started flamed out ingloriously. i went to bed glad that i was there, but not a little unsettled. even then, i knew that in this particular instance, the issue was less with the covenant church or that room full of planters, but with my own issues and how i've processed them. ah, the glories of mid-life...
the rest of the week was really excellent. i learned a lot, met some wonderful people, and felt personally challenged. and i really, really like the covenant church -- enough that i thought that if i ever did affiliate with a denomination, this would be the one. m and i have spent most of our time worshiping in non-denominational churches (though we were in a PAOC church in montreal), but as she progresses toward graduation, i have wondered if it makes sense for us to consider this kind of move. at this point, we're still a couple of years away from any kind of decision point, but it was a promising reconnaissance mission.
for those of you who would like to get a first-hand taste of the experience,allow me to recommend the videos of some of the worship and the messages. among my favorites: john teter's and mark labberton's evening messages and alex gee's testimony.