Overcrowding prompts Spiritual Development to grant all students credit for Wednesday workshop
During Wednesday workshops, many students are unable to find a seat in the Sutherland auditorium. Due to the overcrowding issue, all Biola students were given one conference credit. | Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES
Overcrowded facilities and a violin-playing speaker kicked off the 77th annual Torrey Conference “From This Place: Proclaiming Good News in a Changing World.” The conference began in Chase Gymnasium on Wednesday and spans over three days.
Despite Spiritual Development procuring two satellite locations — Sutherland Auditorium and Crowell Hall — for students to virtually attend the conference, there was still a shortage of seats. Many students were turned away from overflow sites and instead sat outside on the ground.
“We understand the overflow sites have been packed,” said student conference director AJ Shaffer in a text message. “We knew the first couple sessions would be very jammed and we think [Wednesday night’s session] might be a little thinner.”
Improving seating situation
Due to overcrowding, several afternoon workshops closed their doors to students. To remedy the situation, Spiritual Development announced at Wednesday night’s session that for the first time ever, everyone would receive a free conference credit credit. MyBiola showed that all students received a credit for the Wednesday workshop.
It was also announced that one of Thursday’s most highly anticipated afternoon workshops, “Harry & Sally Are Wrong — Why Christian Cross-Sex Friendships Need to Happen,” will be moved from Sutherland Auditorium to Chase Gymnasium. This precaution is in preparation for more packed audiences during the rest of the conference until a more permanent solution is established for next year’s conference.
“We’ve already made decisions about how to change for next year,” Shaffer said when asked how Spiritual Development planned to address the situation.
Speakers address proclamation and prayer
In spite of the seating issues, the conference continued on schedule.
Allen Yeh, associate professor of intercultural studies, spoke at the 9:30 a.m. session. After being introduced by dean of Spiritual Development Todd Pickett, Yeh launched into his talk, titled “The Nature of Proclamation.” His topic was based on Luke 4:18-19 and Isaiah 61:1-2, both of which explain how Jesus proclaimed the gospel. Yeh especially focused on Biola’s location as being central to its mission of reaching people around it.
“One of the advantages of living here is that we are in the center of the Southland,” he said. “If you take all of LA County and Orange County and push them together, we are smack in the middle. … Talk about ‘From This Place.’ We can radiate to the entire Southland.”
Yeh discussed the issue of explicit and implicit proclamation of the gospel. He argued for both sides, saying that words and deeds have separate merits in sharing the gospel, but in the end pointed out that they are both important.
“Explicit proclamation is a necessary but insufficient condition for salvation,” he said. “Explicit proclamation and implicit proclamation are [both] requirements.”
The afternoon session featured Mark Batterson, the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. His message, “Shrewd as Snakes and Innocent as Doves,” covered students’ need to use cutting-edge strategies for reaching the postmodern world.
“When Jesus said, ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves,’ he meant it,” Batterson said. “[The disciples] took it literally; could we at least take it figuratively?”
Batterson also praised the power of prayer in accomplishing goals in the church, and how Christians are to trust God to build his church, rather than trying to do it themselves.
“Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do,” he said.
The conference continued Wednesday evening with another message from Batterson, titled “The Door to Whosoever” and based on Acts 10.