Intentionality cannot be scheduled
Change to Missions Conference compromises student plans. | John Uy/THE CHIMES
With Missions Conference a week away, many people, myself included, are already looking ahead to the schedule to figure out which sessions to attend. For those who may not yet know, the schedule this year looks a bit different than the 2016 Missions Conference schedule. Last year, there were enough opportunities for students to achieve all five conference credits in the first day. However, the schedule this year only allows a total of four credits on the first day, which requires students to attend at least one session on Thursday or Friday to receive full credit. This scheduling change was clearly intentional.
True to purpose
As was mentioned in a previous news article, directors Kristina Lowen and Colton Meo sought to create a conference true to its purpose. They are hoping that students will desire or be encouraged to devote the time set aside for Missions Conference as an opportunity to reconnect with or grow closer to God. The schedule is one of the tools through which they hope to accomplish this goal.
While I completely understand and respect the intention behind the scheduling change, I am not convinced that it is the most efficient, or even appropriate, way to reorient students’ minds and hearts back to God and missions. The fact of the matter is, whether or not students intend on taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity, the conference is mandatory. While it would be incredibly beautiful to see all of Biola’s student body come together voluntarily in this time of worship and growth, I doubt very many of us would actually be naive enough to believe that, if given the option, every Biola student would still choose to attend Missions Conference.
Controlling one's time
However, I would also like to emphasize that not every person who would potentially choose to forego Missions Conference would necessarily be averse to engaging in a time of worship and learning about God and his work across the globe. While Missions Conference is one of the most life-changing events at Biola, there are many valid reasons people could have to forego this opportunity, such as returning home to see family one has not seen in awhile, or even taking a much-needed vacation with friends to unwind from the stress and pressures of college life.
In the end, a student who only wishes to get in and get out as quickly as possible, for whatever reason, will spend the same amount of time attending the conference no matter how far apart the schedule places each session and seminar. The only difference is that students must now take time away from other plans or opportunities they might have for the following weekend. Furthermore, regardless of the scheduling for the event, students may still choose not to enjoy or engage in the opportunity before them. Ultimately, a change in schedule does not provide a basis for a change of hearts, minds or focus — it merely is a method of controlling one’s time.
In conclusion, I believe the only way to successfully bring about the change in students’ hearts and minds is through prayer and intercession. Despite our best efforts and intentions, our ministry and work may never be enough to sway others without the help and guidance of the Lord. God and God alone has the power to open the eyes of the blind and restore hearing to the deaf. Frankly, I do not believe altering the schedule in any way will maximize or inhibit God’s work in the lives of his children. Nevertheless, my opinion aside, I do have faith that the efforts and work of the 2017 Missions Conference staff will be rewarded next week, and that many people here at Biola will fully immerse themselves in this time of worship and community.