I spent two-and-a-half days in Harrogate this week at a conference for church leaders run by New Wine. My goodness, it was stimulating, encouraging, challenging, releasing and motivating. The underlying and overarching message was simple: 'get out and get going'. In other words, get on with talking to people about Jesus, get on with mission. We heard from a speaker - Carl Medearis - who has worked for many years in the middle east with Muslims about he speaks about Jesus with them. A good Muslim loves Jesus and tries to follow his teaching as much as a good Christian does. This was quite challenging for those who have a negative view of Muslims and see them as 'the enemy'. So why haven't we twigged this earlier and just talk with Muslims about Jesus, rather than Christianity or religion? I suppose our view of Islam as a religion is as negative as many people's view of Christianity. But when you talk about Jesus, that's different.
We heard from Archbishop Henry Orombi about being equipped for mission. The Archbishop is a godly leader who has come up the hard way. He is a man of integrity and wisdom and of stature - literally as he is well over 6 feet tall. Listening to him speak speaking unequivocally about Jesus and about leadership left me with a great respect and admiration for this man of God.
I was personally challenged to spend less time in front of my computer - so perhaps less blogging - and more time with people talking about Jesus. Those of us, like me, who are more introverted find this hard work, but there is a place for disciplining yourself to do, just as extroverts have to discipline themselves to spend time alone quietly with God.
The great thing about this New Wine conference was that it was not just about ministered to for its own sake, but about being equipped, motivated and set free for mission. The success will be seen in the fruit, but for myself - and the colleagues I travelled with - I'm going to actively look for ways to talk to people about the greatest good news that there is. Maybe even this blog might start some conversations.