photo album from Willow Creek Arts 2007
I've posted a collection of shots from the conference (including the few I've already posted). Clicking this pic on the right will take you there.
It's hard to give a final assessment of my time at the Willow Creek Arts conference because I'd have choose between goals for attending. Three days in a row I was dazzled by primary colors, jumbotron screens and professional crowd management (never once felt stuck or lost!). Both hospitality and production were professional in the "wow" sense of the word. We even had nifty Asian Chicken Salad box lunches packed by the Willow Creek in-house catering service.
But walking the campus (15 minutes to the other side) of Professional Church starts to feel like an eerie trip through Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom, complete with smiling hosts and talking plasma screens. A thoroughly comfortable place to visit, but enough removed from the real world that the 4-day pass is about all you can take.
It's not like I wouldn't want stay around. It's entertaining and inspiring. There's much free coffee, and I can daydream of working as a producer with a budget in the millions.
But for all the good intentions, and for all the rhetoric encouraging leaders not to copy Willow, but be inspired to do their own thing in their own context... the conference seems to teach something different than it says. It's hard to stare into the moving light cannon Intellibeams on stage ($10,000 each, ballpark), and find much that deciphers the puzzles of a struggling campus community. A motley group spending most of its time exhausting all its energy into living a rudimentary definition of church.
So if my goal was to absorb and enjoy, I met it handily. But if somewhere buried between sessions God had wisdom and beauty to reveal about his Church in an imperfect world... I wasn't able to find it.