Another signal of the growing desire among Christians to “defend the cause of the fatherless”—and to do so wisely and well—is the array of new orphan-focused conferences that are slated for 2011. Of course, conferences may or may not carry significant long-term impact. But if well designed, such gatherings can stimulate serious discussion of key issues, spread good models and seed ideas, and build friendships among practitioners that bear fruit year round.
One conference I think has special potential to do this for the orphan movement in fresh ways is being hosted by Idea Camp on February 25 and 26 in northwest Arkansas. Idea Camp’s organizers have held a number of events in recent years around an innovative approach to conferences. They de-emphasize presentation of information by experts alone, and instead work to enable all attendees to take a greater role in shaping their conferences via dialogue and interaction. I’ve not been to one previously, so I look forward to learning from both the content discussed and the manner of discussion. Meanwhile, it’ll be thrilling to see the network of remarkable people that compose Idea Camp’s circles bring their energy, fresh thinking and innovation to bear on the key issues facing orphan care efforts around the world.