In my district alone I can name almost 20, annual yearly large scale gatherings. The UPC itself puts on several national events every year. I know of no other movement or organization quite as infatuated as gathering its membership and rallying the troops as Apo/Pento culture.
Most of these events usually follow the same structure and possess similar characteristics/attendees.
When the WPF spun off of the UPC the first thing they did was establish their annual yearly meetings, including P.E.A.K (*snicker*), SUMMIT (the national conference), as well as coastal conferences, bible conferences, men’s and women’s conferences, dog’s conferences, break dancing conferences, Ultimate Fighting conferences.. oh wait.. Sorry I got carried away.
But seriously, what is the infatuation with conferences in ‘costal culture? This post isn’t meant to lampoon the gatherings, just to inquire why we’re so obsessed with getting together?
It appears the organizers of these gatherings have goals in mind for them, which seldom get carried out, but almost always turned into a more cookie cutter gathering, complete with a dreadful amount of attention focused on socializing in the halls and lobbies outside the halls where the services are held, invasion of local restaurants, turning hotels into social scenes and lastly but certainly not least-bringing fashion to the forefront of everyone’s attention.
Like I said, I don’t believe these are the goals for the convocations but they almost always turn into these type of events.
Take IBC Music Fest for example.
The premise for the conference is incredibly great in theory: to provide churches the network connections and resources needed to up the ante in their respective music programs.
But who goes? About 30% of the attendees are in a music related ministry. The other 70% are there looking to meet future spouses, show off new clothes, take in the social scene, or most commonly-simply to converse.
I admit even I, who can’t play or sing a note, went for three years in a row, and admittedly had a lot of fun, but in hindsight I can’t figure out for the life of my what I did or why I went! I know I was drawn to the social aspect more than the purpose of the conference.
I bite my tongue (or more accurately, my fingers) as I write this because much could be said about these conferences perpetuating the problem of the Apo culture being turned into more of a social network than a religious movement, but I’ll leave that to the commenter’s, because carrying out some sort of vendetta against this type of thinking isn’t the goal of Joel in creating this blog.
So maybe someone could enlighten me? How did we wind up so obsessed with these formal get togethers? How did we go from dressing up for Jesus to dressing up for wife/husband hunting? How did the lobby get more crowded than the altar?
Perhaps I’m just being cynical. I like to think I’m being pragmatic but a cynic rarely sees their own cynicism.