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Why You Need to Be at Relevance LEAD 2013


vegas skyline

Hey Rob, why is this post headlined with a picture of the Las Vegas Strip taken from a really high vantage point?

Well, that’s the view from the venue for the opening mixer of Relevance LEAD 2013. The location is a surprise, but if you know Vegas well, you might be able to figure it out.

What’s Relevance LEAD 2013?

It’s the second year of a conference that I founded in hopes to inspire big ideas in how we do ministry with young adults in The United Methodist Church. It will be taking place February 14-17, 2013 at The University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Is Rob Bell going to be the keynote speaker?

That would be pretty awesome, but no. The speakers are all United Methodist leader-types who either have a creative idea or are currently involved in an innovative ministry that is successful at engaging young adults and folks who aren’t interested in traditional notions of church. They all applied to be speakers and were vetted and selected by our planning team. It was a hard process and we had to say no to some folks because of time and budget constraints. We believe that many of our United Methodist leaders have a lot of “expertise” to offer to the denomination. It’s not that we don’t like celebrity speaker and author types, we just think there are some inspiring and up and coming leaders who are a little closer to home. We also want to give them an opportunity, on a national stage, to share what God is calling them to do. Speakers (clergy and lay) include Richard Kentopp, Evan Smith, Wes Magruder, Jerry Herships, Dan Wunderlich, Justin Halbersma and Derrick Scott III. You can read more about the speakers here: relevancelead.com

Okay, I still wish Rob Bell was going to be there because he’s really creative. I would probably attend if more creatives were involved.

Well, we have good news for you! We’ve added a number of creatives to the lineup! We’ll have The Gentle Wolves, The Table UMC Band and Carl Gladstone offering music and insight into their creative processes. Rev. Sarah Heath will be sharing, through her art, her struggle with fitting in as a young creative pastor in The UMC. Spoken word artist, Tiffanie Shanks, will share her ideas and passions through poetry. We added creatives because even though ideas are great, we want to highlight some of the great creativity going on in our denomination and we want to inspire other creatives out there to pursue their ideas and dreams.

I heard there was a pretty intense debate at LEAD 2012 over the direction The UMC should move in. It got so heated that it set off the fire alarm.

That was our LEAD Conversation between Rev. Andy Mattick and Rev. James Kang. Both participants offered differing but inspiring visions for The UMC and we thought they would make great conversation partners. Andy and James worked together on the conversation beforehand and their passion for ministry and their ideas certainly came through during the conversation. The fire alarm did go off at the end of the segment, however, it was triggered by the fog machine during the Relevance X sound check.

Will there be a LEAD Conversation this year?

There sure will be! Meagan Harris from Claremont School of Theology and Rev. Samuel Yun will be talking about what it means to have a Christian “brand” presence in the 21st Century. Meagan offers that we need to work harder at interfaith relations, “taking down the cross in order to lift it up,” while Sam would like to use proclaim Christ in bold new ways. This won’t be a debate, however, but a conversation about what it means to challenge one another to clearer and greater articulation of our faith in differing ways. Also, UNLV won’t allow us to have a fog machine so we shouldn’t have to worry about the fire alarm.

What’s this Relevance X thing you mentioned earlier?

Relevance X is the official young adult conference of The Desert Southwest Conference, however, it’s open to a national audience. The X event begins on the Friday Night of LEAD with opening worship. Includes a service project on Saturday morning followed by more worship, a keynote speaker and preaching. This year’s worship leaders include Rev. Shalom Agtarap, Rev. Theon Johnson III, The Dave Roberts Band, keynote speaker Amena Brown (who just finished touring with Gungor) and Bishop Bob Hoshibata, who will preach at the closing worship on Sunday morning. LEAD registration includes entrance into the Relevance X event. The only difference is that X participants will be participating in the service project during the final LEAD segments of Saturday morning. Some LEAD participants need to head home Saturday afternoon but many stay through the remainder of the X event. If you register for LEAD, you do not need to register for X. If you’re not interested in what LEAD has to offer or if you want to bring a group of college students or young adults to Relevance X, you can get all the details at relevancex.com.

This is event sounds pretty spectacular, it must cost at least $500 and not include any meals or lodging.

Thanks to some generous grants and sponsorships we’ve been able to keep registration cost relatively low. Our registration option with housing in the UNLV residence halls, most meals and access to both LEAD and X is just $220. The make your own housing arrangements option is just $170 and includes a number of meals and access to both events.

Do I have to be a young clergy person or a leader of a young adult group in order to attend?

Registration is open for anyone and everyone who wants engage in new ideas, creativity, and innovation in The UMC.

So what do I do now?


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About the author: Rob is the co-founder and current co-pastor of City Square Church, a new and innovative United Methodist faith community in downtown Phoenix. In his years of experience in spiritual formation and creating active and engaged communities, Rob has become an expert at connection and networking. He now uses these experiences, along with technology and social media, to bring others together around creative ideas and events that aim to inspire innovation and bold leadership.

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