conspiring for change

conspire. i love this word. so many of us have probably always thought of this as a negative word-“conspiring against the authorities”…”conspiracy to overthrow the government”…”conspiracy to commit a crime.” but here’s a new twist on the word that i greatly appreciated: it’s roots come from the latin “conspirare” which means “to breathe together.”   to breathe together. what a beautiful thought: christians, conspiring–breathing together–imaginative, creative, bold, relational, intentional, wild, crazy ways to bring the real hope of Jesus to a world in desperate need of life.

the new conspirators conference i participated in in seattle this past weekend was a great experience for me. it was too busy for me to blog during the conference so i thought i’d just wrap up with some highlights. when i am surrounded with other “conspirators for a better way” i am always reminded that we are not crazy. and we’re not alone. the refuge is just one of many communities trying to live out the ways of Jesus differently than we may have been taught from traditional, professional “church” models that many of us were (or maybe still are) entrenched in. in our typical circles, the refuge is a bit of an anomaly. when i am in the company of people like these conference participants i see how many innovators, true-kingdom-minded-entrepeneurs are really out there, deeply dedicated to living out the gospel regardless of the cost. 

there was a common theme that was expressed in all aspects of the conference-a desire to be the body of Christ in real and tangible ways & belief that the real gospel wasn’t consumer-oriented and properity-focused. the gospel has always been to give up the ways of the world for the upside-down ways of Jesus.

i facilitated the workshop “emerging women finding their voice” twice during the conference. i really loved how much everyone participated and hope it provided some encouragement and challenge to the women & men who were part of the conversation.    they audio-taped the first workshop session so as soon as i find out if there’s a link i will pass it on. i’ll try to condense it into a blog later this week but i was able to connect with some really courageous women longing to find their voice, not just in ministry but in all areas of their life. 

there are too many highlights to mention of the conference. if you want to get a great run-down, check out jonathan brink’s blog. he posted about each day and has some good photos, too.  (it is also fun to meet in person some friends from blog-land who are saying similar things, jonathan was one of them). 

here are some conversations that lingered for me in different ways, shapes & forms:

mark van steenwyck of missio-dei, a new-monastic community in minneapolis. i loved his honesty about how they evolved as a community, transforming from hip/cool/emerging to just real, unplugged, messy, ugly, beautiful intentional life together that is very simple but impactful. even though we live in a more distributed intentional community at the refuge (as opposed to one house or central location), many of the things he was saying are really similar to what we are committed to.

shane claiborne of the simple way – so humble, real, simple. just living out core principles of the gospels. my favorite thing he shared was the idea that christians should not be “relevant”. we should not look like the rest of the world, and i’m not talking about “we don’t watch rated R movies and listen to secular music.” what he was saying is we should be “peculiar.” people should look at us and wonder “what’s up with them? they are really weird, look at how they love people, love us, share stuff, give their life away, stick up for others, sacrifice their comfort, advocate for the underdog, work to change laws & fight injustice, are real and unconditional and grace-filled.  wow, those christians are really freaky, in a lovely way.”

efraim smith from a covenant church in minneapolis. talk about preachin’!  i of course love anything martin luther king junior-ish and the topic of race reconciliation because it is such an important issue for our society’s future. racism is alive and well in the world, in the church. he reminded everyone how important it is to recognize that in order to be the beloved community martin luther king junior preached about we first have to be a beloved church. and right now, sadly enough, we are a split and divided church. blacks-whites-latinos-asian-native american-men-women-rich-poor-cool-average-educated-uneducated-conservative-liberal-mainline-evangelical….we don’t all hang out too well together, do we?

we need more tom and christine sine’s in the world! they organized the conference, and their commitment to love & challenge & live out some of their dreams with the next generation is amazing. they just ooze simplicity, passion, heart for mercy, justice, love. 

andrew mcleod from the northwest cooperative development center & the book of acts project. love his heart and eagerness to participate in the emerging women’s conversation. he’s going to be in denver in june & can help us look at ways to think about developing co-ops and sharing of resources at the refuge.

tomas yaccino and roy soto from la red del camino, dedicated to networking churches in latin america. it’s fun because tomas’ wife is a pastor at their church in the dominican republic and their team is structured very similarly to the refuge’s with a very diverse group of people committed to sharing leadership and messy real life together. they both had great hearts for developing and encouraging missional, emerging communities across latin america. 

and of course it is always fun connecting with nadia bolz-weber (who’s planting a new emerging community in denver called house for all) for a little lutheran love and laughter.  we went out for ethiopian food (i had never had before, it was amazing) and it’s always lively conversation about life and ministry.   

i am glad i could go. it was fun traveling with my friend tiera from joshua station and having someone to laugh and hang with.   it’s always hard to get away, with jose’s crazy schedule & all of the kiddo’s stuff. he of course held down the fort with style & grace, but i came home to the reality that being a mommy-wife-pastor-friend is hard.  there’s just no way around the give-and-takes, the good-and-bads of it all. learning to live in that tension is always tricky. regardless, the weekend was good for my soul. it was yet another reminder that we are co-conspirators in this movement to press into issues of justice, compassion, equality, diversity, hope, peace in our neighborhood, the world.  here. now. 

ps: just another indicator that my life is a little on the chaotic side–on the way out to seattle from denver my computer bag/briefcase/the-thing-i-carry-everywhere-i-go got sent through security twice, i had no idea why but they didn’t say anything, they just ran the bag through a second time and i was on my way. when i left seattle on sunday this time the same thing happened but this time they gave it to a security agent to look through. i told them “hmm, that was weird, they saw something odd in denver, too, but it passed through. i wonder what keeps tripping it off?” the agent was like “um, maam, it looks like there’s a knife in there.” i’m like “well, i’m pretty sure there’s no knife in there! hahahahah!” (nervous laugh). so she starts looking and sure enough, reaches in & pulls out a gleaming silver-but-dirty kitchen knife right out of my bag!! who knows how it got there but i am guessing it was from the previous sunday’s refuge potluck dinner? it was most definitely escobar family cutlery.  yep, fairly embarrassing.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • I am really anxious to know what you had to say at the conference!

    I met Nadia last year at the Convergence thing, and she was so much fun to talk to.

    Anyhow, LOL about the knife. Good thing they were nice about it.


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