The hallway leading to the venue for the recent Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh was lined with a long sequence of posters declaring that Medicine matters, Technology matters, Music matters and so on. This February marked my first time at the annual Jubilee conference, where I had been invited to speak about faith and technology. I joined about 70 other speakers covering a wide array of topics all under the conference theme of Everything Matters.
The 37th annual Jubilee Conference attracted over 3,000 people to Pittsburgh from February 14-16. The conference is run by the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a large evangelical campus ministry with a strong Reformational vision spanning the states of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The CCO was founded in 1971 and has since grown to over 200 staff people working on 100 campuses.
The tagline of the CCO was visible everywhere: Transforming college students to transform the world. The main themes for the conference gatherings were Creation, Fall, and Redemption, culminating with a Sunday service on the theme of Restoration. Just outside the conference auditorium, an energetic bookseller named Byron Borger displayed a wide selection of books dealing with faith and various academic disciplines. His display included numerous familiar books on Abraham Kuyper and a Reformed worldview. At one point, I felt moved as I looked out over a sea of thousands of college students gathered to hear more about the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area. As a visitor who hailed from Kuyperian roots, I could not have felt more at home at the conference.
The students could choose from a smorgasbord of workshops, ranging from art and athletics to technology and the trades. The goal of the conference is to express to students that God cares about every square inch of creation and he is calling them to live faithfully in their calling and vocation. Andy Crouch spoke about culture making and later interviewed Manfred Honeck, music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, about how he connected his faith to his music and conducting. One workshop I caught connected faith and economics by exploring biblical principles of Sabbath for people, land and capital. Steven Garber spoke about his new book exploring the topic of vocation. Evidence of everything matters was apparent throughout the conference.
During an opening gathering at the conference, Byron Borger recommended several books, and held up a copy of Al Wolters’ Creation Regained, noting how it was influential in the early days of the CCO. Apparently western Pennsylvania was fertile soil for the Reformed worldview, which has influenced organizations like the CCO. I suspect that some of what I witnessed at the Jubilee conference was the fruit of those early seeds being sown. Al Wolters’ own words came to mind: ideas have legs.
In my own life, understanding that the Jesus is Lord of every square inch means that I can serve him as a professor or as an engineer. Technology also matters to God. We need to find fresh and winsome ways to communicate this compelling Biblical world-and-life view to a new generation of students. Ideas do have legs, and I hope that we will be found faithful in passing along this compelling and transforming Biblical vision that indeed everything matters.