Over the last couple of years I was a part of the planning team for a Foursquare sponsored event in Anaheim, Calif., this past December. It was a gathering of 3,500 students coming around three ambitious causes: fighting poverty, caring for orphans and ending modern day slavery. In spite of lower-than-hoped-for attendance, it was a really great event with many God-moments.
I know I’m a little slow sometimes, but it is now hitting me why events with students and young adults are so different these days than they were ten years ago. Gone are the days when event-goers were content with being captivated by the energy of crowds and connected with like-minded peers. It used to be that you could put on an event with awesome experiences (technical) and spectacular content (spiritual) and it would be a winning combination with little competition. These days, events are a dime-a-dozen with often little distinction between purpose, people or participants.
In a generation where FaceMyTwitterBookSpace is the connector du jour, we no longer need monstrous gatherings to meet people around the world. We can do that with a mouse click or a text message. I do think our need for large gatherings of people will always be a part of human nature’s desire to be included, noticed and celebrated. However, the reasons for why we gather are what I see changing. I wonder if…
- Students and young adults want less of the self-esteem boosting events from the past and more moments of shared energy that fuels action.
- Weekend church goers would prefer to spend less time in service and more time in service to others.
- Denominations struggle to grow because rallying around good doctrine seems a lot less important than rallying around good deeds.
In our never-ending pursuit to assemble people, may we all consider why we’re bringing them together in the first place. Jesus never gathered a crowd. The crowds always gathered around him.
What are you doing that is worth gathering around?