Blog | Topic: Jubilee

Jubilee: A Vision of the Kingdom

Jub_ByronMeThe Jubilee Conference is, hands down, my favorite event of the year. It has been since 2001! Every February in Pittsburgh, the CCO gathers 2,500+ college students to think more deeply about their place in God’s world. It is a conference like no other, a time of deep engagement with the Biblical story; a time of personal commitment to follow Jesus; and a time of reflection for college students to consider their present and future callings in life. Byron Borger has already written wisely and astutely about all that the Jubilee Conference means and who the conference brings together, year after year. Read and listen, I say, HERE.

For the past three years I have had the privilege of being an emcee with my good friend Dave Bindawald. What an honor! Highlights from this year’s conference included introducing speakers Andy Crouch and Dan Allander, interviewing Roxanne Stone and David Kinnaman about the Barna FRAMES project, worshiping with Josh Moyer and friends, working with The High Calling to award $1,000 for a student video (below), being on stage with Byron Borger when he announced and launched Steven Garber’s new book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, and spending some quality time in a hot tub (you had to be there).

What I like most about Jubilee is its commitment to the Bible and the biblical narrative. The four main sessions are organized around the four chapters of the biblical story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. There are other ways to focus on the main themes of the Bible, to be sure, (in fact, Don Opitz and I offer a bit of caution about this in chapter 6 of Learning for the Love of God), but, wow, at Jubilee, when you see and hear and participate in The Story, through the lenses of these chapters… well, it is so helpful and inspiring and life-giving!

The Jubilee Conference is the best “vision of the Kingdom of God” that I have seen. It is a signpost and a reference point for so many staff and students. I don’t think it’s possible to leave the conference without being changed in a very profound way.

Garber2I’ve been thinking a lot about a “vision of the Kingdom” as I work my way through Steve Garber’s profound and insightful new book Visions of Vocation. Steve’s own work has been shaped in tremendous ways by the Jubilee conference. In fact, Steve has helped to shape the conference itself over the many years of his own faithful service to the King. Steve knows that a life committed to following Jesus is not easy, and yet, and yet… He writes:

“The story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to be farmed, and children to educate. All day, every day, there are both wounds and wonders at the very heart of life, if we have eyes to see.”

Indeed. And the Jubilee Conference helps us to see, year after year.

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The Jubilee Conference Transforms Everything

DoYouHearThe annual Jubilee Conference was held this past weekend in Pittsburgh, PA. The conference brings together college students (2,000+) to explore the implications of the Gospel for all of life. And by all of life, I mean, well, all of life. There were breakout sessions on just about everything: education, business, history, art, dance, social sciences, athletics, weather forecasting… And that’s just looking at one page of the program (p. 25)! But that’s not all. The main sessions of the conference challenged students to consider the biblical story as the True story of the world. Each gathering took a closer look at the key chapters of the Story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration) and then invited students to find their place in the biblical story. “Inviting students to find their place in the biblical story” is currently in vogue, but the Jubilee Conference and the college ministry (CCO) that sponsors the event has been doing it for many years. This was my 12th Jubilee overall, and for the second straight year, I had privilege of being co-emcee with my good friend Dave Bindewald.

H&M1The conference never ceases to amaze me. Words can’t express how much of an honor it is to be a part of it. The students are always eager to learn and energized to serve. The speakers are remarkably gifted at taking complicated concepts and making them accessible to young adults. Stories of redemption are told that encourages and equips students to want to make a difference in the world, but not without first talking honestly and openly about the reality of sin. In fact, an entire main session is devoted to discussing the Fall. The worship music is as good as I’ve ever heard. Not only is the quality excellent but the depth and diversity is profound. And, of course, Byron and Beth Borger of Hearts & Minds provide the biggest and best bookstore I have ever seen, reminding students that the “Jubilee vision” is not just a weekend experience.

D&D4Every year, amidst the splendid chaos of it all, I find a few minutes to reflect. This year my reflections took me to my work directing the College Transition Initiative, particularly to the students (and parents) I meet right before they head off to college. During the closing worship of the Saturday evening session, I was praying for high school seniors heading to college this fall. My prayer is that they catch a vision like the one provided by Jubilee early on in their college experience; that they know that it is possible to live-out their Christian faith on campus; and that they find a community of friends and mentors that will bring them along in the faith. I found myself, once again, reciting one of my favorite prayers from the Book of Common Prayer (For Young Persons):

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen. And, Amen!           

*Photos courtesy of Andrew Rush.

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Jubilee Conference 2013: Transform Everything!

JubileeIt’s that time of year: Jubilee! The annual Jubilee Conference is held in Pittsburgh, PA in February and brings together 2,500+ college students to “talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation… Whether students are interested in engineering and science or art and music, law and politics or medicine and mission, justice and families or college life and the years to come, Jubilee will have someone speaking about what it means to be involved in those places faithfully.” The conference theme this year is “Transform Everything” and along with my emcee duties, I will be co-leading, with my good friend Keith Martel, a breakout session entitled “Transform Learning: Renewing the College Experience.”

The Jubilee Conference is part of the mission of the Coalition for Christian Outreach. The CCO is a campus ministry that partners with churches, colleges and other organizations to develop men and women who live out their Christian faith in every area of life.

Here’s what I love about Jubilee: the Jubilee Conference is committed to helping students better understand and live out the biblical story. In his important book, After Virtue, the renowned philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre wrote, “I can only answer the question: what am I to do? if I answer the prior question: of what story do I find myself apart?” College students are asking big questions:

What is the meaning of life?
What is my purpose?
What kind of career should I pursue?
Where does my identity come from?
What difference does it make to believe in Jesus?

All of the main-stage presentations at the Jubilee Conference invite students to answer that prior question: “of what story do I find myself apart?” On what story is their life based? The presenters than explore the implications of the biblical story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration) for academic pursuits and future vocations. There really is nothing like the Jubilee Conference and it’s an honor to be a part of it each year!

Check out this video to encourage students to “sign-up maybe?”

Download the 2013 Program Booklet here.

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