Digital Discipleship Conference 2018—Day 1

    Rachel Lemons Aitken opens the 2018 Digital Discipleship Conference. (Photo: Daniel Kuberek)

    I have a dream.

    It’s the middle of a Sydney winter, and among the blue skies and crisp air is this year’s Digital Discipleship Conference (DDC). It’s being held at the University of New South Wales in the eastern suburbs of Randwick, but I’m not here today to tell you all the key details. You can read all about that in our news story. I’m here to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Conference, and a reflection on what’s been going on each day.

    It’s incredible to be around people with so many creative ideas. The Conference kicked off with a welcome address from DD founder Rachel Lemons Aitken, and it totally set the vibe for the day. For those who aren’t aware, Rachel’s dream to hold a conference for digital creatives was sparked some time ago, but only came to fruition in 2016. In an unexpected twist, she wasn’t able to attend the conference she’d planned and prayed over so thoroughly, as she gave birth to her son the night before the conference started. She was able to attend last year’s Conference, only to have her son and husband both unwell for weeks after, putting a damper on the follow-up she’d dreamed of.

    Rachel’s story raised a question we’ve all come across at some point in our lives: What happens when dreams don’t turn out the way you planned?

    We’ve all had a dream, whether big or small, spoken out loud or carefully guarded in our heart, that hasn’t come to fruition the way we hoped it would. And in that moment, we have two choices: to give up and walk away, or to hold onto that dream, especially if its one God has planted in our hearts, and try again.

    Pastor Matthew Lucio presenting his workshop on Spiritual Entrepreneurism. (Photo: Daniel Kuberek)

    Cliche? A little, and I was debating whether or not I would leave that in. But attending Pr Matthew Lucio’s Friday afternoon workshop on Spiritual Entrepreneurism changed my mind. Do you know what a spiritual entrepreneur is? It’s someone is a who risk-taking, creative thinking, visionary, cultural missionary who doesn’t believe anyone who tells them that something cannot be done. In other words, they hold onto their dreams for as long as God is breathing life into them.

    An example he gave yesterday blew my mind. Check out this quote:

    “We have a few cherry trees, but the testimony is that the land is not good for cherries. But so many false, discouraging testimonies have been borne in regard to the land that we pay no attention to what they say. We shall try every kind of tree.”

    Do you know who said that? Mrs Ellen G. White herself, a pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a spiritual entrepreneur who didn’t give up on her dream. The land around Avondale College apparently wasn’t good for cherries, but did that bother her? Nope. If cherry trees weren’t going to work (and she was going to try to plant them anyway, regardless of the advice given), then she would plant other trees. The Lord had given her a dream*, and she was going to hold onto that (FYI, the land turned out to be excellent for growing food).

    Closing her address, Rachel Lemons Aitken gave this challenge: if you’re standing at the crossroads when your dream isn’t turning out the way you envisioned, remember the moment God whispered the dream into your heart. If you’re reading this, and you have a dream, hold onto God. It’s only through Him that you will know His plans—whether that be to keep pushing forward, or to let go, and let Him breathe a new dream into you.

    *Ellen G. White, 8MR, 259.2

    Note: You may argue that you’re not a creative, and you don’t have any dreams. If that’s you, then follow Pastor Lucio’s advice, and create an environment in your churches and spaces for spiritual entrepreneurs to tinker, think, and be creative.