Saturday, 12 July 2008

Wow... what a conference!

A number of us have just got back from the annual Newfrontiers Leaders Conference, ‘Together on a Mission’. With over 5000 delegates from Newfrontiers churches around the world, the Brighton Conference Centre was close to capacity. It was a great opportunity to catch up with good friends, such as Clive & Heather Cernik from Dubai, John & Linda Lanferman from the USA, Keith Hazell from Canada, Paul Godfrey from Valencia, Spain, and many others.

As well as outstanding ministry from familiar speakers such as Terry Virgo, PJ Smyth, Dave Devenish, Dave Stroud and others, this year’s guest speaker was Mark Driscoll who is becoming widely known as a result of his direct, no-holds-barred biblical preaching, his provocative (and extremely helpful) books, and his fast growing church, ‘Mars Hill Church’ in Seattle. Mars Hill was the site of the Areopagus in Athens where Paul disputed with the philosophers of his day, and that says something about Mark’s ministry today. He is passionate about building churches that are culturally relevant whilst remaining true to the Scripture, and in so doing he is not afraid to speak out!

At the seminars for Elders & wives, Mark spoke very helpfully and practically from his own experience, addressing subjects such as maintaining a good marriage & family life in ministry, structuring leadership in the local church, and fielding questions on just about anything! Awesome stuff! He really came across as a honest, likeable guy with a lot of wisdom - and who really loves his wife & family.
In the main meetings you sensed that he was really looking to serve us Newfrontiers leaders by provoking us to look at our values and methods. In term of our values, we pretty much hold the same as Mark and his group of churches, but when it comes to methods, he stretched our thinking along the lines of what a missional church should look like, so as to go for greater fruitfulness.

There was a memorable moment in his last session when Mark paid high tribute to Terry Virgo, acknowledging all he has done in fathering Newfrontiers so well & faithfully over many years, and then going on to challenge us to ‘honour our founder, but also our future’, daring us to think of the future, and to pray daily for Terry as he entrusts ministry to other faithful men for the sake of an even greater future. It was a very daring and emotional moment! Not many men could have served us like that – thanks Mark, you really helped us! Thanks Terry for inviting him!

Then there was the music! Well you’ll just have to come along these next Sundays and you’re sure to hear some outstanding new songs, like ‘God of This City’ (awesome – gets my top vote!), ‘God of our Yesterdays’, ‘Saviour King’ to name but a few.

So if you weren’t there, I hope that helps!


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