The church and the social network

SxSWinspiration on Plancast

Last year at this time, I was attending my second South by Southwest (SxSW) interactive festival – and the first I’d done on my own.  I’d had such an amazing time at the first that I knew I needed to stay for the weekend this time in order to maximize my experience.  I also knew that I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to worship that weekend.  So even though I didn’t know much about any local churches, I did a google search, and wound up finding a church that was just a block from my hotel – and decided to go.  I also, rather at the last minute, invited anyone else from the conference to join me.

An invitation to Austin City Life church

Not surprisingly, nobody took me up on my offer (Sunday morning is not a particularly popular time to be up-and-about at SxSW, as it turns out!).  I had a great time anyway (the thing that left the biggest mark on me was the fact that the church was so strongly oriented to community service), and it planted a seed with me … I wanted to find a way to share Jesus with all of the people at SxSW who’ve shared so much with me.

I eventually moved to Austin (about 2.5 months later, as it turns out), so this year’s SxSW was totally different.  In the weeks leading up to the conference, most of my friends and broader social network connected on Plancast to share our plans for the conference, and to figure out where we were going to meet up.  I figured that would be the perfect mechanism for us to put together an outing to my (now home) church, the Austin Stone.  So I made up a name (SxSWinspiration – a play on SxSWinteractive), created the Plancast invitation you see above, and invited everyone along to the Stone.

I had no idea what would happen … whether 50 people would join me, or zero … one seemed as likely as the other.  The actual result was wonderful … my wife Amy and I wound up playing host to Bryan Person, Mike Neumann, Michelle Batten and Jay Ehret for an amazing message delivered by Pastor Jeff Mangum.  It was wonderful to be together in worship for a short while in midst of all the craziness, and I feel connected to all of those folks in a new way.  Only God knows where we’ll all be next year, but if he’s willing, this will be the first of many years of SxSWinspiration events … see you at the Stone next year!

14 responses to “The church and the social network

  1. Greg: Thrilled I could join you all for this year’s #SXSWinspiration service at the Stone, even though I had to duck out early (still have to download and listen to the rest of Pastor Jeff’s sermon).

    In addition to the fellowship, I’m reminded that conferences like SXSW present opportunities to share the gospel to non-believers. I’m praying that God will continue to open these doors for me in my upcoming travels, and that when He does, that I’ll be bold enough to walk through!

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