Thursday, 17 July 2008

"Together on a Mission"

This week is the calm after the storm of the Together on a Mission conference in Brighton, England. The conference of newfrontiers, the family of churches my church belongs to. By "storm", I mean totally intense, refreshing, nowhere to hide kind of encounter with God and his people.

Loads of other peopler have blogged the details, so the best thing to do is point to the highlights.

John Lanferman somehow condenses Mark Driscoll's first talk into a very pithy post here

Adrian Warnock gives details and interviews here

Ant Hilder gives a good account of a personal experience of Brighton

Downloads of the talks can be found here

My personal experiences and observations would be the following:

1) Mark Driscoll is something of a prize fighter in the reformed charismatic movement. Listening to him preach is like standing in a ring with Holyfield or Lewis and taking a a barrage of punches - with no pause for recovery in between. I have never heard such an integrated ecclesiology linked to a purposeful missiology so rooted in a bullish reformed theology.

2) I love the worship, the worship leaders, and the contributions. But I wish they stopped recording an album of worship at the conference. I have these frustrations:

a) we have to stop and learn too many new songs, it breaks things up too much. One or two a day maybe, but no more.
b) the new songs we learn have not stood the test of time. We only sing the cream of what other movements produce - Strength will rise, Happy Day, Everyone needs compassion. Compared to those some of the new songs seemed a little mundane.
c) I think it makes the worship leaders a bit edgy. They're trying to nail a song for the CD. Evan Rogers couldn't care less about the recording and his sessions are always lively, fun, and free. I want more of that. Maybe we should do a "If you want to be on the CD come to this seminar" seminar where people can go, learn the songs and go for it, and leave the platform worship for open and free worship.
d) The selection of songs is not wide enough. There are so many schools of worship, gifted leaders, across different movements. If we benefit from those outside for speaking then why not worship leaders too? Godfrey Birtill is a good example who I heard recently at the Trumpet Call prayer day at the NEC.
e) I think Simon brading is fantastic and I think he did really well. However he didn't seem as "free" as he does at Newday. I'd love him to rock it up a bit at the leaders conference.
f) I know there is a sense of wanting to strengthen people's grasp of theology using worship like the good old hymn writers did, but even so, I think we may be bordering on being a bit wordy and a bit technical in describing what God has done. We need to express our heart's response to the doctrine alongside the doctrine itself. "You chose the cross" is a great example of a song which nails the doctrine and expresses the heart in one song.

3) My seminar stream was disappointing if I am honest, specifically the bit about how the Holy Spirit effects the way we lead. When more is left unsaid than is said I wonder if it was worth saying anything at all.

4) free downloads of everything is a magnificent opportunity and service - and I have 3 Mark Driscoll DVDs which i attempt to watch with a bible, a bottle of wine, the pause button and my wife (who has a degree in Theology). I want to see what sticks, what is true, what I don't agree with, what challenges my own practice, and make sure that I take what God was saying, rather than just appreciating being caught up in a special moment at a special conference.

What a special 4 days.

1 comment:

dave bish said...

Something was a bit lacking musically... it's a big ask to produce a live CD from a 4 day conference, and probably not really necessary - all the new Lou Fellingham songs we learned are on her album for a start!

I'd have thought a studio album once a year from across the newfrontiers family might be a worthwhile idea - and could be released for the conference, profiling 10 good new songs each year from all over the place and not just from Brighton, might be better.