Last weekend it was my privilege to join our church's leaders on a weekend away at Hothorpe Hall with over 150 other leaders from our network of churches.
It was great to see Scott Lencke and his wife Cat and to chat at the dinner table with among others Joel & Beth Tarbutton from New Life Church Letchworth. There was plenty of time for food and fellowship and also teaching, sung worship and loads more. Here are some things that I hastily scribbled down over the weekend.
Geoff Brown spoke on moving on with God. When Israel was in the wilderness they would camp for a time and then move on – lead at the front by the tribe of Issachar – ‘who recognised the times and the seasons and knew what Israel should do’. The climate is changing. In the past churches have split when new revelation came. Now churches are coming together. When Israel moved on they took the tabernacle with them. As we move on there are things we hold on to even if for a time they are ‘folded’ like the canvass of the tabernacle.
Ian Rawley began the next day with some leadership lessons from Nehemiah encouraging us to not to neglect ‘building the walls’ that is not just building the church but also engaging the world. He gave a good critique of post-modern thinking: narrative is important but we must not forget the need to be clear about the church, the gospel and the kingdom. The church should be a safe place. Flat structures are good but there is still a place for leadership and authority.
Alan Scotland encouraged us not to hold back. He warned of the virus of individuality and to beware the illusion of connectedness through media. We need to ensure that we seek authentic community.
In the evening David Latham spoke about the power of God. He was very impressed with our churches especially how we live out authentic community. Something that I noted in what he said was a line from one of Wesley’s hymns: ‘the mystic power of godliness’.
The day ended well with us simply breaking up into small groups to pray.
On Sunday Kobus Swart talked about being in a time of transition. He said that it is God who changes the seasons. He quoted George Barna who had said that by the mid-21st century the church would be totally irrelevant - unless there is a new move of God. Kobus spoke of the present move as ‘the apostolic reformation’ and of his own involvement in working with other very different churches in what he called a ‘city eldership’. In this time of transition we need to hold onto the revelation we have as we embrace the new.
Finally Tim Morley taught us some lessons from Timothy & Epaphroditus (1 Timothy 2) mentioning unity in diversity and emphasising the importance of relationship above gifting.
We finished with a time of breaking of bread and prayer followed by a Sunday lunch together before we all headed home.