A few random thoughts roughly halfway through the conference
- Great atmosphere, and lots of high quality input from speakers on mission, leadership etc. I particularly like the emphasis on setting up 'core groups', small groups with the explicit agenda of helping people grow and develop as leaders, through prayer, accountability and honesty.
- New Wine leaders dress code (male): jeans and crumpled pinstripe shirts on day 1, moving into a time of Chinos on day 2.
- Good chance to catch up with lots of people I knew from theological college and 'previous lives'.
- Pleasantly low on the politics: Archbishop Henry Orombi's input strongly focused on Jesus and mission rather than internal Anglican affairs.
- Challenging and provocative stuff from Carl Medearis, the main speaker, on how 'Christianity' puts people off but that the gospel is about Jesus. 'Can you present the gospel from the gospels'? Good question, most of our standard gospel texts are from Paul, not from Matthew, Mark Luke or John.
- A new enterprise to deliver theological depth at the local level, through a network of 'hub' churches and a course developed to bring together passion for ministry with challenging theology. I like the idea: very often the two have been split - you go to YWAM (Youth With a Mission) to get fired for God, and to an academic theology course to get the knowledge, but the New Wine project is trying to unite the two. I'm not sure if their model is workable, time will tell, but the idea is excellent.
- Catching up with people I know only via Twitter and blogland. Fun!
- Just back from a great seminar by Patrick Dixon on how to be more effective in ministry. My first question for our staff team next week will be "what do you think it is I do which has the most impact?" and then, if we can agree, looking at how I can increase the time I spend on that, and reduce time spent on stuff with less impact. If this blog goes quiet, you'll know that they thought it fell into the second category!
Must go, more loud guitar-led worship on the way, and then a chance to try out yet another eating establishment. My one suggestion to the leadershp of the conference would be whether we could trial some different styles of worship. Having 30-40m of worship led by a rock band at roughly 3 hour intervals through the day is certainly a change from the norm, but there are times when I just want to be quiet, or have something to meditate on, write down, or mull over. But perhaps that's just me.