I attended The One Project in Seattle this past month and wanted to share my analysis of my time at this “gathering.” It was not a conference we were told but a gathering, a discussion on the supremacy of Jesus Christ within the Adventist church.
I and almost 700 other folk gathered for two days. Most of us attended because of invitation from either one of the leaders of the gathering or the personal invitation of a friend that had attended the first One Project gathering in Atlanta, GA. a year ago.
One of the questions I received over and over again from folk that knew I was attending was, “What is this thing all about?” My answer was consistently, “I don’t know.” When I vocalized that sentiment on twitter I was assured, “Jesus. ALL.” In other words I was told, “the gathering is all about Jesus.”
Did I find this to be true? Yes and No.
My perspective on the idea of “Jesus. All.” after hearing people insist to me that Jesus is “ALL” we are about, no agenda. After hearing the encouragement before the meetings for people to prepare for the gathering by reading the Gospels and/or The Desire of Ages. After hearing Japhet De Oliveira give his explanation to the purpose of this gathering in the opening remarks I understood Jesus.ALL. to mean that it would be all about JESUS HIMSELF.
With that expectation in mind I found it to be NOT Jesus. ALL.
There were several talks, the majority of talks in fact, where scripture was not opened and where Jesus as God, Man, Savior, Friend, etc. were not addressed in any manner and so if you came like me with an expectation of learning more about JESUS HIMSELF, then you would have found this event wanting.
If you came with the understanding that it would be about Jesus primarily as how He has been used and focused on throughout the history of the Adventist church, then yes it was Jesus. ALL. This was the focus of much of the gathering. Jesus 1844, 1888, 1957, Doctrine, Mission, the future.
In every talk I found things I could, “AMEN”, in every talk I thought there were wonderfully valid points made. I resonated strongly with Sam Leonor & Mark Witas’ talks. My heart was touched as a Dad & as a former prodigal with Pastor Terry Swenson’s story about his own son.
And there were things said that concerned me, statements I believe were on the border of ideas or teachings I would in no way be able to support. That said, these statements were either intentionally or unintentionally veiled and therefore hard for me to make a completely accurate assessment of.
The format of the conference was amazing! There was no wasted time! After our break times we went straight into the speakers, no wasted words on announcements or giveaways. The music led by Nick Zork w/ an assist by Kimberly Bulgin and many others was amazing. On a side note, I believe if we invested through our church education system in wonderful worship leaders as much as we do other areas of ministry, all our churches would be well served! (It is Biblical 1 Chronicles 6:31,32) The fellowship was wonderful. It had a nice reunion feel to it. The organization was terrific and the leaders I spoke with were gracious in hearing my concerns and humble in hearing my praise.
In summary I would say, it was not the gathering I expected, but this doesn’t mean it was a bad gathering. The focal point I expected, learning more about Jesus and drawing nearer to Jesus, was not the primary focus I experienced, and based on that alone I would probably not choose to attend again.
However, this is only their second (in some ways 1st) intentional gathering, and I think it is wise, unless there is was just absolute heresy, (which I choose to believe there was not) to reserve judgment after just one round. I was also encouraged by Alex Bryan’s statement that Chicago’s 2013 gathering will be a discussion on 8 stories from the life of Jesus. With that statement by Pastor Alex I believe a return and reinvested look at The ONE project is deserved, at least from me.