Christianity21 is an interesting event taking place in Minneapolis in October. The website has this description:
'We live in a time of epochal change. Many find this change exciting; for others, it’s a challenge. Call it globalization, pluralization, or postmodernism, this change affects our economy, politics, government, and education—all of society. And, of course, our faith and our churches are not immune to change.
So we have gathered 21 of the most important voices for the future of Christianity—21 voices for the 21st century—to speak into our future as people of faith in this age. They represent a diverse array of backgrounds, interests, and passions, and they will provide a wide range of innovative and challenging presentations.'
The nice thing is that the 21 voices are all women's. Tony Jones, one of the organisers says on his blog: 'That's not a gimmick, nor is it an affirmative action decision. Instead, it's our attempt to catalyze a chemistry at an event that's never been achieved before. It's an attempt to do something different. (If you're a guy (or a woman) who feels uncomfortable about that, probably all the more reason that you should be there!) ... We also thought it's high time that speaker/authors like me, Doug, Joe Myers, Shane Claiborne, Peter Rollins and others should be sitting behind the registration table, handing out nametags. And that's just where you'll find us.'
Interesting that they feel they have to namedrop a few guys who will be there, but how refreshing that they're taking risks and that they've given the platform away. I think some of the best speakers I've heard at Christian events have been people who I hadn't come across before, and maybe didn't agree with 100 per cent, but who spoke from the heart, made me think and gave me plenty to talk about over a drink afterwards. I know it's tempting to go for the safe names who always deliver, but there can be something rather dull and predictable about that. Could this kind of conference happen here in the UK? I don't think so at the moment. But I do think we need something radical like this to shake up our ideas of what it means to be a 'good' speaker and who is worth going to listen to.