Idea Camp
by Jen Hatmaker on August 5th, 2013

I’m trying to remember the first Christian conference I ever attended, and reaching back some twenty-five years, it must’ve been a pulsing, high-energy youth camp like Acquire the Fire. The teen years were my introduction to Christian events, the large centers or stadiums throbbing with energy and momentum.
There is something so exciting about large-scale conferences; hundreds or thousands of likeminded people rallying around a mission or topic or just a shared love of Jesus, enthusiastic speakers and worship teams leading the charge. To this day, sitting on the front row, waiting to teach a large crowd, listening to voices singing in unison, a room full of lifted arms, I cry from the sheer beauty of it virtually every time.
But as much as I love that mass energy, I also sometimes reach for smaller settings with more conversations, more shared discussions, an exchange of ideas rather than just an imparting of them. Why I find myself teaching God’s Word instead of, say, half the people in any given room is a mystery, and I increasingly crave the ideas of others and greedily drag folks into thorny conversations in corners and hallways and lobbies. The world is ever full of smart, capable believers asking important questions and raising the bar on intellectual discourse. Participating in dialogue with smart thinkers is literally my favorite thing on earth.
Maybe this is why I am so excited about “Idea Camp: Human Care.” For lack of a better term, it is a “non-conference conference” in Austin on September 20-21. Idea Camp is an open source, hybrid gathering of thinkers and practitioners to move participants’ ideas toward implementation. It fosters conversation between dreamers and provides the impetus for connection to spur new initiatives, new partnerships, or even just new thinking.
Each Idea Camp centers around a different theme, gathering idea-makers and learners whose hearts beat faster in that genre. This year’s focus is “human care and the church,” so I probably don’t need to explain why I’m trying to get you to come. Caring for orphaned and vulnerable children and families, empowering women, organizational health, and leading the church to care for the poor comprise the bread and butter of Idea Camp this September. We will facilitate fresh, honest, and transformative conversations with leading thinkers on topics including care for others, our neighbors, our communities, and the world as it relates to issues of justice and mercy, the role of nonprofits and the church, innovation in long-term development, sustaining a lifetime engagement in caring for others, and much more.

Idea Camp facilitates field-centered discussions with leading practitioners about the work of human care, sharing best practices and practical insights. This year’s guides include, truly, some of the best people I know: Charles Lee, Rob Morris, Lindsey Nobles, Peter Greer, Esther Havens, Troy and Tara Livesay, Kristen Howerton, Jennie Allen, Leroy Barber, Matt Mooney, Jessica Honegger, Chris Marlow, Bianca Olthoff, Mike Rusch, and of course, Brandon Hatmaker and our ANC compatriots Matthew Hansen and Lamar Stockton.

And there are even more, folks who lead organizations and initiatives that force us to admit really, really good people still exist: Love146, Food for the Hungry, People of the Second Chance, HOPE International, Heartline Ministries, Invisible People, Preemptive Love Coalition,, solaceSF, 99 Balloons, Noonday, Help One Now, Youth With a Mission, Forgotten Voices, Acts of Sharing, Pure Charity…we get to learn from these people.
The beauty here is that no one person stands on a stage and talks for an hour. Guides kick off focused conversations in minutes, then the real magic happens in collaboration with everyone else in the room, as the guides transition from “teachers” to “coaches.” Participants share best practices, successes and failures, and innovative ideas, sharpening one another and forming connective threads that will far outlast the two-day gathering.
If human care and all its beauty and complexity keeps you up at night, or if you want it to keep you up at night but you don’t know how to jump in, Idea Camp is for you. Bring your ideas, your dreams, your burdens; your questions, frustrations, false starts – those are welcome too. You’ll get to learn from some of the best and connect with likeminded believers who crave redemption and justice for humanity like you do.

Because of the nature of Idea Camp, it is limited to 450 participants, and we only have a few spots left. You wouldn't believe how affordable it is: $89. I'm not even kidding. But because I want you to come SO MUCH, if you enter the promo code IDEACAMP15, you'll get 15% off. Pastors, bring your staff. Activists, bring your friends. Leaders, bring your fellow visionaries. Bring your spouse, your small group, your partners in crime. Let's dream together.
Plus, you’ll get to be in Austin, and don’t get me started on that propaganda.
We need your voice, we need each other. We’ll see you there.

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Marny - August 5th, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Sounds awesome! You need Becca Stevens of Magdalene/Thistle Farms, too. Do you know about her awesomeness?
Esther - August 5th, 2013 at 10:47 AM
That sounds amazing! Although I am pretty excited to hear you speak at a larger conference next April in Minnesota :-)
Leann - August 5th, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Wish I lived closer to you (I'm in Maryland) I would definitely attend. This sounds amazing!
Francie - August 5th, 2013 at 11:41 AM
I second the recommendation for Becca. Jen Becca in one room might be more awesomeness than I could bear!
Rebecca - August 5th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Love this idea. Do you think you could make it duplicatable in other communities?
I guess make some sort of framework to do this in my city.
Olivia - August 5th, 2013 at 12:49 PM
OMG, I'm in. Thank you for this. I already live in Austin so it was made for me! Are you going to Love Does when it comes here?
rachel - August 5th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
just bought tix! coming down from denver! great place to celebrate our second anniversary, :). my husband says, "this sounds like a good idea. we will just have to eat lots of mexican food. and bbq."
Jason @ - August 5th, 2013 at 1:51 PM
Thanks for highlighting the importance of not just singing to worship but actually coming together to figure out practically how to LIVE like Jesus did. Spending our lives like Jesus did (he didn't do a lot of singing) is the greatest act of worship a member of his body can perform. I will pray the result of Idea Camp is many many people doing exactly that! :)
Sarah @ - August 5th, 2013 at 2:43 PM
There's no way I'm going to be able to travel at that time - due with a baby about then. :) Please tell us there is a way to get a recording or summary of the event? Or maybe you can blog the highlights? Please help me find a way to be a part, I so want to be there!
Sarah @ - August 6th, 2013 at 2:06 PM
I have an idea - do another one in New Orleans, where I am! So many awesome minstries/ministers here!
Erin R. - August 5th, 2013 at 4:56 PM
So wish I could make it, but the budget has no wiggle room at this time. Sounds like an amazing opportunity to ignite a movement.
Erin R. - August 5th, 2013 at 9:30 PM
Not giving up...
Mike Rusch - August 7th, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Erin...okay, this is awesome. I'm helping coordiante the event, so shoot me an email and we'll give a little "help" in getting registered.
Erin R. - August 9th, 2013 at 9:25 PM
Thanks Mike! I just sent a message to "contact the organizer" on the Idea Camp page.
Erin R. - August 9th, 2013 at 9:26 PM
Happy to share that I reached my goal and am going to Idea Camp!!!
Erin - August 16th, 2013 at 7:36 PM
That is so awesome!
April Cooper - August 5th, 2013 at 7:28 PM
Can't wait! I went to register and I didn't see a place to add a promo code thru Eventbrite. Maybe I'm missing something. Was anyone else able to register with the 15% off code?
Mike Rusch - August 7th, 2013 at 11:08 AM
April, glad you are going to come to Idea Camp! If you look right above the big green "Register" button on, there is a faint gray "enter promotional code" link. Click that and enter the promo code! Thanks!
Colleen Mitchell - August 5th, 2013 at 8:24 PM
I REGISTERED TODAY! Coming from my mission post in Costa Rica to learn and share! So freaking excited! We were trying to decide on a trip to the States for me for some time in early October but just could not find a reason to definitively commit. Now I have one! And now I have clothes anxiety.
Donna - August 6th, 2013 at 1:16 AM
Sounds fantastic, something my heart and soul longs for...but I am on the field (China) and definitely no budget for a trip back to the US. I would LOVE/ADORE/CRAVE something like this here. We need a way to unite all the people working in big orgs, small orgs and no orgs to support, love and re-ignite. :)
Wishing you a truly productive conference, one that grows arms and legs, hands and feet, that GO GO GO!
Sheri - August 6th, 2013 at 6:01 AM
Is this conference for the pros? Though my background is in social work, I am just personally (other than professionally) starting to get involved in human care. I am intrigued, but not sure I would have much to offer the conversation, other than sitting everyone's feet, learning?
Ryan Keith - August 7th, 2013 at 4:20 PM
Sheri - as a "Guide" for this year's Idea Camp, I assure you your voice will be helpful. If you believe that you have a desire to learn from and invest in an actionable conversation about human care, come. We'd love to have you. We are trying to leave our logos at the door. Ultimately, we are all trying to figure this out honestly. This is a great place for people to come, as us "pros" facilitate conversations. Everyone is needed. As Jen said, "We need your voice, we need each other. We%u2019ll see you there."
Abigail Hostetter - August 6th, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Coming! Met you this summer at the Father's Day bash, and I'm "just" a teacher, but my heart hungers to be involved in the BIGGER PICTURE. I cannot wait to see, to soak, and to learn as much as possible.
Jen Daniels - August 6th, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Ugh. Yet another reason I miss living in Austin.
Anne Gibson - August 14th, 2013 at 6:41 AM
Hi Jen!

I don't know if I'll be able to make it to austin for this, but I saw that you will be inn Atlanta in October! (Which is where I live!) If you need a place to stay, let me know, you are more than welcomed to stay here with us. I'm hoping to maybe make it to your February conference. They all sound so interesting. BTW, do you know of missional churches in North Atlanta? Actually, an hour north? We are still searching for a home church.

Aimee - August 16th, 2013 at 3:37 PM
Hi Jen... you are a crack up! It's refreshing to read humorous honesty at its best! SO a friend of mine sent me the link to this "idea camp" thinking I might be interested. I'm not sure what "ideas" I could share but here is the latest I've been thinking.
If you think it would benefit the camp for me to be there I can make it happen! I'm sure I would benefit more by being there! LOOOVE Rob Morris btw. He spoke at my DTS in 2000. Most influential one ever! Thanks for all you do!
Erin - August 18th, 2013 at 7:02 AM
I am BEYOND excited about this! Some wonderful women from back home have made it possible for me to travel from Haiti to attend the conference. I will have a friend with me and we have been praying and praying about how to get another one of our friends there! Hoping that God makes a clear way for her to be there, as she and her husband are doing kingdom work down in Haiti and have recently just opened a home for the older youth ages 17-22 who recently had to leave the orphanage they were living at b/c they "aged out". Please join me in praying that God will provide in all of this! We are so excited to be partnering with like-minded, fellow sojourners all seeking to love and care for the human beings in the way God's design intended! Can't wait to hear you Jen and your husband, as well as so many others that we follow and glean wisdom from from afar.
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