incarnation: the act of embodying or state of being embodied in human form

I have been thinking about that word quite a bit in recent months as I have come “face to face” with more and more of my online friends on Facebook, Twitter and blog. In fact, if you have read my blog recently, you know that one of my 2009 goals is to “take online community offline.”

But I’ve really been thinking about this idea after Innovation3 Gathering last week where I participated as a live blogger. In fact, I’m not the only person thinking about this concept. Cynthia Ware wrote the post Face to Face at Innovation3 Gathering, and Rick W. Smith wrote the post Innovation3 aka Nationwide Tweet Up (see Rick’s video below).

I remember just a few years ago when I used to attend a conference and the only people I knew were a) people I had met at that conference the year before; b) someone whom I “ran” in the same ministry circles with; c) someone famous (aka author/pastor/speaker). But most of the conference was spent getting to know people at the most basic level…exchanging of information and informalities.

But that has all seemed to change here in the last year or so. With the large number of people on Twitter, it’s almost as if these conferences are becoming a reunion, rather than a first time meeting. And the reason I mention Twitter is because it’s different than Facebook, in that the daily conversation creates a relationship that other technologies do not (look for my upcoming post in Collide Magazine on this topic). My first experience of this was at ECHO in August of 2008. Then at ChurchTechCamp:.Dallas in January of 2009. Then at Innovation3 Gathering this last week.

I have a lot of questions about the future of conferences, especially as the economy is tough, admittance fees are high, and most of the material can be found online. BUT, I will say this…the most valuable intangible of conferences is the convening together in the flesh. That can not be underestimated, and I think is the one reason people attend conferences more than any other. That’s why I’m super thankful for DJ Chuang and Leadership Network giving so much “downtime” on Tuesday for the meet and greet. That was amazing.

Before I end this post with Rick’s video, check out one of my favorite blogs, Don’t Eat the Fruit by John Dyer. His post Technology and “Face to Face” in the New Testament is great.

Check out Rick W. Smith’s video:

Check out my live blogs and post from the gathering last week:

Innovation3 Gathering-Live Blog using Cover It Live.

Innovation3 Gathering: Day 1 Recap & Tomorrow’s Online Connect

Innovation3 Gathering: Missional Community using Scribble Live.