GodBlogCon 05 was, on the whole, a success. (The GBC blog is here with great links to commentary). Much thanks is owed to Hugh Hewitt for innovating the idea, Dr. John Mark Reynolds for graciously hosting the convention and sharing his ideas at Biola, and Matt Anderson and his team for pouring their energy into making it a reality. The hospitality shown by all at Biola sure does add to its credit as a first-rate Christian university.
While the blogosphere is a wonderful place with possibilities of linking people together around the globe in stimulating thought, discussion, arguments and building friendships, there is still nothing that can replace the ability to sit down for a meal among friends.
I had this pleasure in finally meeting Marvin Hutchens from Little Red Blog and his delightful and thought-provoking wife. They are an excellent team, and it is a privilege to call them friends.
The concept of GodBlogCon will continue next year, likely in August, back at Biola University. With that in mind, I would like to suggest how it can be improved:
More opportunity for building "community"
Community is often one of the more overused and misunderstood words in the modern Christian church. However, God did not intend for us to live this life solo. Far from it. As God is in community as a triune God, so we too can benefit from the whole body of Christ with all of its talents and gifts. It is the perfect argument of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (For a great primer in Christian Community, see Pastor Tod's Blog, "It Takes a Church" under the category Christian Community here).
GodBlogCon benefitted from having some great Christian bloggers at the events. Each of these bloggers is like an elite soldier in an army. (Note: This is only an analogy, and it is important to not read too much into the military paradigm). On their own, they are very capable. However, leveraged with the proper logistics, support, intelligence and technology, they are lethal.
GodBlogCon II will hopefully expand upon the opportunities to build our relationships together. I recommend having people break out into different groups, such as: Polibloggers, Pastorbloggers, Religious Issues, etc. Within these groups, I strongly encourage having a time of prayer together. Praying for one another is one of the best ways of quickly building understanding and community. Such groups could then interchange members with the other groups for interesting discussions.
Breakout sessions, at the suggestion of Marvin Hutchens, could be "track" oriented for the different types of Christian bloggers at the conference. One conflict was having several breakout sessions, only being offered at the same time. Having different tracks would reduce this conflict. While I don't think tracks should be mandatory, they may be helpful in also building community as people get to know each other in smaller settings.
Focus on the future
I am very curious what can be done to advance the work of the Christian church community through the Internet. While I enjoyed hearing different bloggers' experiences, I longed for some energetic thoughts on what we can do together online. The net has an enormous potential for good and bad. The Christian community would be better served by focusing on larger, measurable goals. I regret that I do not have suggestions for what these goals may be, but welcome comments of those that do.
GodBlogCon 05 was a rich experience, and I look forward to the next convention. Hopefully we can all build upon the relationships started this year and be stronger as a community for next.
Update: A must read commentary on GodBlogCon can be found at Sheep's Crib (funny too). I strongly agree that more women bloggers and maybe even a women's blogging panel should be organized. I would love to see Lorie Byrd of PoliPundit at the convention next year.
Update 2: Pastor Tod Bolsinger's comments are a must read and say in a much better way what I was trying to express. (October 18, 2005)