Saturday, 29 August 2009

In the news (again)

A couple of weeks ago we were front page news.

A photo linked to that story was used the next week, and in the main daily paper.

This week in the letters page of the same paper there was a letter by (presumably) a local Christian under the heading "Church is working for the good of society".

It was a response to a previous letter that had evidently been bashing Christians / the Church.

He asked this question:

"How different would Shrewsbury be without the activities of Christians today? Let me cite just a few examples: Isaiah 58 and the Ark working amongst rough sleepers and the disadvantaged, the impact of Barnabas Community Church and of the Convent on the marginalised poor of the town, work carried out by all the churches in the areas of youth work, work among older people and holiday clubs, work with prisoners and their families, fair trade work."

I am really pleased to be serving the kind of church a fellow Christian can cite, publically, as an example of caring for the marginalised poor of the town. As we continue to train money advisors to help those in debt, and plan a Harvest Service for September which will be in support of our Debt Relief project called Basics Bank.

I think what touched me most was that in some small way we had been an encouragement to others within the body of Christ.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Working Together (Part 5)

And here endeth my discussion...

The delay has been to do with holidays, decorators and a bit of procrastination!

I will use the headings in previous parts of the discussion to give a snapshot of where I am now.

Doctrinal Unity

The Evangelical Alliance basis of faith is a useful start point and is definitely a litmus test for me. I don't try to exclude on that basis but it helps to show where people are coming from. That is why "Mission Shrewsbury" is probably more my comfort zone because such a deep sense of "sharing" key points of faith builds trust and makes things tick a bit better.

In reality "Christian" and "Trinitarian" would be on the outer echelons of what "working together" means for me. Hope 08 meant using that definition and standing as a body of Christ across much wider doctrinal lines than I have done before and was a useful exercise in seeing how far we could go, which turned out to be quite far, raising thousands of pounds to deliver 54,000 leaflets with over 20 Churches standing together.

Within evangelicalism I personally hold the view that if they love the Lord and honour scripture then I want to work with them and their errors in the same way I want them to work with me and my errors. Charismatic / Non charismatic is not automatically an issue, or are issues of denomination, Church government, gender or atonement, which all seem to be fairly hot topics. I guess I want to take people at face value and I don't think those things have to be stumbling block to unity unless we make them so. So I work with baptists and paedo baptists, complimentarians and female ministers, charismatics and cessationalists, within an evangelical framework. If they held their definition tighter I would be excluded so why should I seek to do that to them?

I also think the Church / Para church discussion is almost completely redundant in practice and I will seek to work with both. In Shrewsbury that means especially the Shrewsbury Youth for Christ team, as well as Shrewsbury Fairtrade, and plenty of other national para church ministries such as Barnabas Fund. If Jesus was willing to talk about the kingdom of God being the priority then I need to too, and my ecclesiology needs to accomodate others who do things a bit different.


My spirituality is far more defined by being charismatic than it is about particular tenets of my evangelical faith. My worship is far closer to some people I have differing views to than it is to some I would share most viewpoints with.

I feel crushed in certain evangelical settings where we choose to worship together in unity, as long as no-one puts their hands up, speaks in tongues, or claims to hear from God through anything other than scripture. I am a square peg in a round hole and so for "unity" within a shared expression of spirituality I would look to the pentecostals and charismatics and feel at home with them far above some who may tick more theological boxes.

That is why I think I would still prefer to go to Spring Harvest above New Word Alive, and why when I look around my friendships they are basically all charismatics from all sorts of different streams and groups. They are not just people I share a knowledge of God with, but shared experiences of God and a wider spirituality.


The idea that some Christians or Churches won't support "Stop the Traffik" because of its "links with Steve Chalke" seem so utterly devoid of anything that remotely approaches the love of Christ that I am speechless.

If the focus is a kingdom value or a biblical value then I want to support it and love it.

So in Shrewsbury we support The Ark day centre for homeless and vulnerable people which is run by Church Together. Churches Together is a broad spectrum group, wider than many would be comfortable with, and up until recently the staff member of the project (who has now moved on) was a Buddhist. Was that a deal breaker?

No. We gave them money, held events to raise money for them and blessed the ministry expressing and upholding a kingdom value.

I have not pushed the boundaries about how that works across faith groups, not least because in Shrewsbury there is not the diversity to pose the question.

I think we have to see the mission, God's purpose, and the kingdom of God and then see where we are, rather than a check a theological passport, entrance exam and see what we have left. The bigger the focus, the wider the definition, in most cases. Fair Trade being a good example. I will work with anyone who is standing up against oppression of workers.


We are all on a journey. Some very close friends from years ago have moved ground theologically and now inhabit a very different place to me. Considering I am only 30 I can see the distance widening and relationally we all have to be big enough to cope with it.

The challenge that provokes in me is that can I start "new" friendships across a divide that big? I think that is a question for all of us. I think the idea that we can generate "unity" out of purely doctrinal, or spirituality led frameworks takes the essential role of people out of the equation. The fact is some people just plain annoy me and I think some people are totally amazing and it rarely correlates with a precise definition of what propitiation means.

As well as "who will I work with" or "How should I work with them" I need to be asking the question of "What am I like to work with" as a relational, personality focused question. The level of "unity" I achieve and model within the body of Christ will also be linked to how annoying I am, to my ignorance, my arrogance, my naivety and my ability to offend both accidentally and maybe even deliberately.


Some people may read this and think I am a sell out to the reformed faith. Other may read it and think I am confused. Some people may read it with a hint of relief. Who knows? I will let you decide.

But I am increasingly convinced that the more we pull up bridges within the body of Christ the less we focus on building bridges outside the body of Christ, and the moment I pull a bridge up on someone else for their theological viewpoint I risk myself being on the wrong side for mine.

Instead I want to see the body of Christ as a wonderful patchwork quilt of history, theology and practice and I am here, shaping my bit, in my place, within my understanding and challenging, provoking, encouragin and loving others and allowing myself to be challenged, provoked, loved and encouraged by them.

I do that largely within an evangelical framework because that is my foundation and an easy start point. I recognise this is already suitably narrow to make narrowing it further a damaging exercise.

I don't like groups or conferences or anything really that defines itself by what it is not, rather than what it is. I want to be a person who knows what I can work on, and who I can work with, and push the boundaries, not what I can't work on, and who I won't work with and live in an ever decreasing circle of unity that ends up with an isolationist agenda.

I am pretty sure if Jesus came back tonight He would judge me not just on what I believe but for my motives in believing it. I think we would all be pretty shocked by the consequences of that and who Jesus would seek out and honour for their faith. It almost certainly would not be the person with the finest theology or the most complete understanding, although it could be, we don't know, and that is the problem of drawing lines in this imperfect world.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Working Together (Part Four)

So there is such thing as doctrinal unity, and it certainly can be a good thing.

Setting out parameters of what we do and don't believe is really important.

But I would say their were three other real drivers towards unity: spirituality, focus and relational. If we only define doctrinally we miss some of the great richness of what it means to be part of the body of Christ, even the bits that are "in error" compared to us.


Our Church would look and sound the same as plenty of Churches who would believe all sorts of different things within an evangelical framework. The outworking of our faith would look pretty similar. Our corporate worship would look pretty similar. I am charismatic, and therefore, have a strong identity and sense of desire for an expression of worship that I share with many others.

Some people I share almost total doctrinal unity with, look and feel quite different in their spirituality. Usually through being cessationalist. Church feels different. Even people's private spirituality looks and sounds a bit different. The way we "hear" from God differs. Not only does it differ, but their theology directly rejects and opposes my theology, experience and practice.

I am very happy for someone to read the bible, for the Holy Spirit to illuminate a particular passage and for them to receive guidance/comfort/wisdom from that experience. I embrace that as a way of hearing God. In fact, I embrace that as the primary way of hearing from God. But they think speaking in tongues is gibberish and prophecy today does not happen and therefore anything that claims to be so is false. So their spirituality fits neatly within my framework but mine is topped, tailed, squeezed, bruised into their framework.

That is why I may want to read the books of certain people but not necessarily regularly engage in corporate worship with them, because actually we would be colliding two different expressions of spirituality, even though we have doctrinal "unity".

This is a primary difficulty I faced within the Christian Union scene. Joint evangelical worship is a funny old thing.


What is unity for? It is about who we are or what we do? If it is who we are then is that shaped by what we do? I think so. I think our definitions and parameters need to be changeable based on what we are actually focussing on.

I think the problem with an isolationist evangelical agenda is that if we will only work with the "right" people then we won't really work with many people.

The liberal wing of the Church have, on the whole, been ahead of their time with social action and social justice. Only in the last 10-20 years has it really become a fully fledged agenda within the wider evangelical movement, despite historically it being an integral part of UK evangelicalism.

If the issue is "Fair trade" or "The Environment" does it really need a carefully worded statement about penal substitutionary atonement to work together?

Or is anything we do together seen as a risk lest we are tarnished with the same brush as those incorrect people?

But what if they ARE right to focus on the issue in hand, and maybe even ahead of the game? Do we need to set up a seperate "evangelical" version or do we support what is happening? I think a bit of humility goes a long way in how we relate to others when the focus is the kingdom of God, the value are biblical, but we are coming from different directions.


There are some preachers I just don't like. Some writers I just don't click with. Some leaders I just find difficult. Undoubtedly others would say the same about me.

Doctrinal unity does not mean I will actually like someone socially. Nor will it protect me from being bruised by someone else's personality, or bruising them with mine.

Actually, some of my deeper friendships are with other believers who really are on a different page in some doctrinal beliefs but they "get" me and I "get" them. Actually, I would rather spend time with them, and work with them, because frankly it is a more enjoyable experience.

On another angle, it does sometimes look like people just do not like the style of some else's ministry / spirituality / relational dynamics and then they can't do anything right.

Take Mark Driscoll. Loved and loathed in almost equal measure. The problem is some people utterly "click" with his style and do not seem capable of seeing his vulnerabilities, the weaknesses in some of what he says and does and the dangers of how they can be worked out by others. The flip side is others who find his style dreadful throw the baby, and reams of wonderful understanding out with the bathwater.

In 10 years time I imagine Driscoll will be really sad about some of the things he has said and some of the fights he has picked. I also imagine some of his dectractors will have been won over by his track record. That is after all the experience of many charismatic groups and "new" churches since the 1960s. Big mistakes were made, but so has some wonderful progress. That is why Terry Virgo is now welcome to speak at New Word Alive and Keswick, as an example.

So next up I will put the microscope back onto me, my heart and how I work this out in practice and looking at local relationships. I will use the terms doctrinal, spirituality, focus and relational as marker points to help me.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Working Together (Part Three)

This series of posts is a journey rather than a clearly thought out set of ideas.

It is a personal attempt to make sense of a few things whizzing around my head rather than a theological treatise.

Somehow I need to work out a path of relationship and inter-relationship with unbelievers, christendom, liberalism, evangelicalism, the charismatic scene and conservative evangelicalism. Those are just a few that directly effect me, and our Church.


For some, we need to believe the same things in order to have unity. Actually, to be more precise, we believe the right things in order to have unity.

In practice this can work quite well. If someone else, or another Church adheres to the evangelical alliance basis of faith then I can instantly make a fairly good value judgement about where they stand on some fundamental issues.

But due to the divergence of opinion about all sorts of different issues within evangelicalism some people continue to seek to define things by a narrower and narrower set of criteria.

The issues I have with this are fairly straight forward.

1) It often picks out a particular issue and makes it the issue to die for.

It then starts an "in" club and an "out" club and publicly asks people to choose whether they are "in" or "out". Those who are "out" of the club get lumbered in sentences with everyone else who has ever been "out" on a particular subject, so guilt by association reigns.

Those on the "in" side of the club may well be well off beam on all sorts of different things. We may disagree to the core about huge swathes of our faith but at least we are all in this new "in" club and it feels safe because we are not outside.

The way anyone moves position is to either get flamed and pushed out by the "in" club, or to drag themselves on bended knee across broken glass to show how sorry they are into the "in" club. In reality, rarely does anyone make the move.

The drawbridge is lifted up. Like the Berlin wall people grow up with their brothers and sisters on the other side, go to different conferences, different Churches, and occasionally wonder what happens the other side of the wall where all those "wrong" people live.

2) It kills conversation

People become genuinely nervous of lifting the lid on a discussion without being tarred with the same brush. No-one knows who is in the inquisition. To express doubt is to "let the side down". To struggle to understand an issue is to show weakness. To not care about it is to show weakness.

"This is our issue and you are either with us or against us and the only thing we can discuss is how right we are, with others who agree."

I want a faith that engages in conversation, and does not suppress it or see it as weakness.

3) It promotes theology or theologians above scripture and Father

Why didn't St Paul add "Do not say you are an apostle of Grudem, or Piper, or Driscoll, or NT Wright, or whoever.".

It sometimes feels like doctrinal "unity" is split into so many different factions some people seem to forget who they are disagreeing with except that it is everyone. Preachers and theologians get lifted up high, promoted at conferences, often around particular issues. They are there to be adored by their followers and abhorred by their detractors. The "recommended" reading list narrows to a select band of "sound" teachers.

Why can't the net be cast a bit wider and for individual believers to make their own value judgements about the merit of the message someone brings?

4) It assumes we are right

I am right in everything I believe. I have to be, or I would not believe it. Yet millions of Christian brothers and sisters, who are also right on certain things they believe, apparently believe things that I think are wrong.

Now they are born again. They are my brothers and sisters. They are 100% convinced that they are right, so am I.

Someone, somewhere has to take on board that fact that on one issue, maybe on plenty, we are not actually as right as we think we are.

That being the case, I want to live, towards those I think are wrong, as I would want them to live towards me, were I wrong.

Theological conviction gives way to perfectionism, nit picking and joyless criticism of our brothers and sisters. I know what it feels like to be on the outside of the "in" club for being a charismatic and it is horrible. I don't want to put that on anyone else, even if they are starkly wrong.

5) It alienates, and hardly ever wins

If my brother is wrong I want to engage with him and bring him into the joy of no longer being in error. I want that for him because I love Him, as my brother. If I lift the drawbridge up, start throwing stones at him and say "You are not my brother", then the chances of restoration slim to the point of zero.

6) It writes off a lot of good

Many people, churches, church movements, denominations, have great strengths, and occasionally an achilles heel.

One major problem with purely a doctrinal basis of understanding unity is that it it can be guilty of writing off swathes of tremendously good teaching, discipleship, mission and worship because people diverge on other things. The problem with that approach is that no one person / movement / denomination has every answer to everything and is being used by God in every way. We have to look around at what God is doing across the church wider than our own sphere to see what we are missing out on.

7) It fails to recognise "journey"

Many people's theology, spirituality, discipleship, is a process, a journey.

Doctrinal unity makes people make some really big calls very early. I think sometimes people get labelled pretty early and that becomes part of their journey. Either they entrench into their position or they react against it at a later stage.

Doctrinal unity tries to nail down the moveable feast that is our biblical understanding and revelation. It becomes the train tracks down which we travel. On one hand this can be quite safe. On the other hand we miss anything not on our particular train route.

Lots of people will think differently aged 20 to aged 40. Plenty of people as they learn to work out their faith move ground on certain issues. Whatever doctrinal unity we have must give scope for people's journey, and recognise people may feel differently or believe slightly differently at a later stage.


I do see the benefits of doctrinal unity. I do desire it. I do want to know if people are on the same page. But I want that unity to be a vibrant, engaging, attractive place, and realise it may need to be grey around the edges in order to build bridges to others.

Even if someone is wrong they are probably still my brother. Even if I am wrong I am probably still their brother. We have to find a way of living out our position as brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that engages with one another, and I am not sure we always do that.

Doctrinal unity should be a foundation upon which we can build relationship. It is not a stick to hit others with. Relationships can be built without it.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Working Together (Part Two)

I made a deeply regrettable remark in this post about Choosing a Christian Festival when I said flippantly:
Yet for me it would be a bit like returning to the scene of a crime. It would mean me facing issues left untouched for several years, when, as a student I had a sometimes unhappy existence, for being a charismatic, by the kind of people who wore beige Farah Trousers, brown leather moccasin shoes, and went to "Word Alive"!
It revealed some pretty unattractive bitterness in me. It also caused some concern to an old friend who read my blog. As he was the UCCF worker I knew at the time, he was (naturally) concerned I was referring to him. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The UCCF people I met, our relay workers, our local staff workers, were absolutely exceptional. Lovely, Godly people who encouraged, loved, nurtured and shaped our lives.

Let's start with some housekeeping.

As a student my witness was not always effective, my lifestyle was not always pure, and my motives/actions/reactions were at times both sinful and immature. I was not God's gift to university life, or if I was it was to show His grace at work in the life of a broken person.

I say this for context, for honesty and because I know I was part of the problem.

I gained a great deal from my involvement with the Christian Union. Both the training and getting to know and work with lots of other christians from different spheres of the Church. I was evangelism secretary in the second year, then following a placement year I came back and was a small group leader in my final year. I attended the UCCF Forum, various training days, the biblical evangelism conference, the list goes on. This also helped shape my theological identity, as a conservative evangelical.

But I was a Charismatic. I went to a Vineyard Church in Sutton Coldfield. In my placement year I went to Trent Vineyard in Nottingham and then back to Birmingham for a year in a newfrontiers Church plant in Handsworth. "Charismatic evangelical" was the term I used as I was passionately both.

Things were sometimes quite difficult. I will use just three examples.

  1. UCCF Biblical Evangelism conference. Roy Clements was the main speaker. I sat down for dinner next to a girl from Exeter who, on finding I went to a charismatic Church started to make some pretty harsh comments. "Is it true your Church never uses the bible during preaching". "Of all evangelicals Charismatics think the least". The list went on and on. I had not said anything other than the name of my Church, and this tirade started. Other people at the table fell silent and started looking down at the table. It was so awkward. I was there to learn about using the bible during evangelism, not have a strip torn off me for being a Charismatic.

    I also found it quite difficult the way that some of those gathered seemed to hold the speaker in such high regard. It felt false, arrogant, and quite unnerving. He was not right because he was clever or famous, even if he did pastor a big Church in Cambridge. He was certainly a gifted teacher, and I learned plenty, but was uncomfortable at how he had almost become the message and the fact we had "got him" for our conference was the focus. The next year he left his wife, came out, and now is a prominent voice within the gay christian community and this caused a huge stir within evangelicalism at the time. It left the conference looking pretty fake and the veneration of the speaker pretty hollow. And I did not understand why other evangelicals thought me being "charismatic" meant I was fair game for a whipping over dinner.

  2. MY FRIEND was from a Church in a nearby village and her father was a vicar. She came to our youth club, came to summer camps with us, and was a good friend. She went to a university where there was already two different evangelical student groups, one charismatic, one not. The idea that Fusion brought in a "new" level of division is false, but that will be discussed next. Anyway, she felt a desire to go to both groups, and in her small way help to bridge the obvious divide through friendships. She found it very very hard, because of the bad things said between the two camps.

    Fast forward ten years and she was living with her non Christian boyfriend, does not really attend Church, because frankly, if the attitudes and behaviour she encountered in that environment represent the outworking of the gospel then the gospel is not what is says on the tin. I am still hurt by this. She was my friend. When people say they are "contending for the truth" or similar I always think of my friend who was collateral damage in someone else's fight. She still has faith, she just cannot handle Christians.

    What angers me is that this is happening WITHIN evangelicalism. It feels like people are so used to "fighting for the truth" it sometimes makes me wonder if we now just pick a fight and ask questions later? And this is amongst born again Christians. The mind boggles.

  3. FUSION. When I was on our exec the Fusion thing started gathering pace and frankly, it was not much different to what we were already doing so we did not really get involved. At the UCCF Forum that year I realised it was all going to kick off at some stage, but really did not get involved as I was leaving university anyway.

    Subsequently it really has kicked off, big style, across the country, in many situations. In any single situation this may not be the case, some people have made it work really well, others not so. I know work has been done amongst the people leading these movements.

    When Esther went to Cambridge the Fusion / CICCU thing was a prevalent factor within the evangelical scene. This saddened me. It was a throwback to what I experienced. Nothing had changed, and if anything, it seemed hardened. Most evangelicals bumped into similar issues. I remember talking at length to one girl who was at her wits end because of all the sniping. This article, written by a former president of CICCU was a tremendous shame. I heard it referred to several times as a seminal work as to why Fusion was a "bad thing", but never really commented because most of my friends went to Fusion cells or Church cells.

    "Indeed, the charismatic and conservative wings of 'evangelicalism' have diverged so much in the last 20 years that it may not be entirely unhealthy to stop pretending that we only disagree on minor issues and to have two different student groups to show both Christians and non-Christians that we do stand for different gospels sitting under different authorities."

    Different gospels? Really? I am not entirely comfortable with everything Fusion does. I am not entirely comfortable with everything UCCF does. Hey, I am not even entirely comfortable with everything I do! But I don't think that article was just aimed at just Fusion, it is wider than that, and I find myself on the charismatic issue on the wrong side of that drawbridge, however evangelical, however conservative, and however reformed I may be. For me that article is an open wound. I would sit comfortably in almost every theological tick box within the conservative evangelicalism it supports and yet I find myself utterly at odds with the attitude that exudes from it.
So there we have it. Just three examples, I could go on. My friend at Durham years ago was asked not to raise his hand during worship. My brother got stung at the Christian Union in his university city. Many Christian unions seem to be dominated by a particular conservative evangelical Church and if you go to the charismatic one down the road you are a bit "out there". I genuinely don't know many charismatics who don't have scars from their unversity days, and the wounds come not from liberals, not from muslims, not from alcohol abuse, but from our brothers and sisters we share an evangelical faith with.

I think deep down I realise I have not fully resolved being burned in the past. This is a root of unforgiveness I need to dig out and deal with. It is my problem as much as anyone else's and I need to be free of it.

The reason I am twitchy when I see other bloggers or movements apparently bringing up a drawbridge against others is because I know what it is like sitting at the table amongst ten people, one slating you, 8 silent. I see myself as charismatic before conservative because that is the issue I was polarised by, alienated because of, and rejected for. I was the wrong side of the drawbridge within conservative evangelicalism and it was a lonely, vulnerable place. I have seen my friends be collateral damage, and frankly I hate it.

And my unforgiveness has meant I have been doing exactly the same thing. I have been keeping people at a distance, forming an unspoken barrier, being nervous of motives. So this is an issue of repentance as much as resolution for me, because as is so often the case, my journey starts with me allowing God to shape my own sinful heart.

Next up I will ask the question, what is unity?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Working Together (Part One)

In my comment to Dave Bish in this post about Together on a Mission I said
If I am being honest I am still a bit twitchy about New Word Alive I am afraid. I may post some thoughts on it at some stage. I just can't quite correlate previous experience and current expectations.
I thought that was worthy of thrashing out a bit more, maybe into a series of posts.

I think I need to do a bit of soul searching. I think there may even be a bit of unforgiveness lying in the background of my thinking. This is my journey, with my heart on my sleeve.

Please hear me, love me, challenge me, and correct me, in that order!

I am not always wholly comfortable with being known as a "conservative evangelical" because I am not sure I like everything I see coming out of that wing of the Church. Not necessarily the theology, but rather the attitude. I am a conservative evangelical by much of my thinking, but I don't always feel like one.

I see myself as an evangelical first, charismatic second, conservative, then reformed. I have greatly enjoyed periods of membership at Vineyard Churches in Birmingham and Nottingham while away at university. I mainly have experience within newfrontiers Churches, especially this one, which joined newfrontiers in the late nineties after fifteen years of being an independent charismatic evangelical Church.

I like Newfrontiers because I am passionate about scripture and passionate about the work of the Holy Spirit. I liked the way Newfrontiers feels like it was on the safe end of the Charismatic scale, without some of the excesses, and on the charismatic end of the evangelical scale, without some of the excesses.

Things seem to have moved a bit. Perhaps since the Steve Chalke / Atonement debate and discussions it feels sometimes like Newfrontiers is more aligned with a narrower group of conservative evangelicals than its previous position as part of the charismatic landscape.

This has many positives, as conservative evangelicals represent many godly people looking to be faithful to the gospel. But it does feel like there has been some "drift" away from some of our charismatic brothers and sisters. This may be implied, I may have got this wrong, but it feels like it. The term "reformed charismatic" is used instead of "evangelical charismatic".

Before I go back and work through some of my own experiences one thing that is troubling me is a very basic issue.

If there was a significant move of the Holy Spirit, such as what was dubbed the "Toronto Blessing", I think these new relationships would be stretched. In the same way old friendships were stretched by the atonement debate. Excluding the weirdness that surrounded the way some people dealt with what was happening during that time of renewal, it was certainly a blessing to the Church here.

I have a feeling I would be sat at a conference expectant for the presence of God next to a Vineyard pastor. Our ecclesiology may differ a bit, so may the outworking of several theological points, and even our worldviews may differ. Our views on the atonement may differ, as may our views on all sorts of things. But we will be there, seeking God.

I also have a feeling the wing of the Church who support New Word Alive would not be very positive about an "outpouring" and associated charismatic experiences. I am not talking about speaking out against excess and weirdness, many of us try to do that, and have done so recently. But I think the whole thing could be opposed as a matter of theological disagreement.

I don't want to lift the drawbridge up on movements / groups / ideas / views when we share much more than we disagree on, and I fear we could be seen to be doing this, possibly by what we don't do more than what we do!

It concerns me because I don't think it helps unity.
It concerns me because I think newfrontiers is in danger of losing its voice within the Charismatic scene, such as not having a major presence at events like Spring Harvest.
It concerns me because I think in the future we could end up on the "wrong" side of the drawbridge, on the naughty step with other charismatic movements whose theology or practice is questioned.

Next up I will post about my own personal experiences.