When I first agreed to attend the Elephant Room 2, my plan was to provide an analysis and assessment of the conference and its wider implications for the evangelical world. In preparation for this upcoming event, I thought it would be helpful to revisit the first Elephant Room and consider how it was received by church leaders and laypeople. I then offered a few reasons for why I had agreed to attend and blog about the second conference.
In the past 48 hours, however, circumstances have changed rapidly. On Monday, my blog was relaunched as I officially joined the other bloggers hosted on The Gospel Coalition’s website. On Tuesday James MacDonald announced his resignation from The Gospel Coalition. Needless to say, the situation became much more complicated for me personally. I questioned whether it would be truly possible to cover this conference journalistically in the middle of a larger controversy, and I considered backing out of the event altogether.
Thankfully, some friends from The Gospel Coalition assured me that I was under no editorial obligation to take a certain position on The Elephant Room. They expressed their trust in how I would cover this event and looked forward to my analysis. On Tuesday afternoon, I spent a little time with James MacDonald. He also told me that I was under no obligation to say anything positive about the event and that he would welcome any criticism I would have for him or for the event itself. He only asked that I would not allow the comments to turn personal regarding the people he had invited.
It is somewhat unusual for me to recount personal conversations in this manner, but I felt it was important to communicate the fact that my analysis of The Elephant Room today comes from me and only me. No one, from either side of the controversy, is telling me what to write or how to approach this conference. In the midst of a sticky situation, it is actually quite liberating to know that the only Person I truly need to please in this series of blog posts is King Jesus Himself. And I’m praying that the ongoing conversations prompted by this event will edify Christ’s people.
Here is what to expect on the blog today:
1. I plan on either live-blogging each session or linking to other live-blog reports of each session.
2. I will try to offer a few quick words of analysis at the end of each session.
3. At the end of the day, I hope to offer some thoughts on the event as a whole.
4. Tomorrow or Friday, I plan on following up with a longer post that analyzes the event and its implications for evangelicalism.
Please be in prayer for the pastors who are participating in The Elephant Room today. No matter what you may think about the pastors who were invited, it is undeniable that these conversations will influence thousands of church leaders today and in the weeks and months to come. Even if you believe the conference dynamic and set-up to be flawed at the foundational level, it is still good to pray that the conference would be as good as it can be, so that any potential damage is minimized and any potential benefit is maximized.
Love always hopes. So should we.