Brighton rocks

One of the great privileges of being part of the Newfrontiers family of churches is being blessed at the conferences it hosts. Outstanding teaching and beautiful worship are just part of it; meeting with dear friends from all over the world who are engaged on the same mission is thrilling and, well, a bit like Christmas! Together on a mission is aptly named and one of the highlights of my year.

Given how ropey I was feeling, it came at a great time. The conference is held at Brighton which has (something of) a beach and I wandered along here on the first morning I was down there. I felt God speak to me quite personally about a couple of things, one of which I want to share here. I use annual events like the conference to look back over the past twelve months, so as I sat on the beach I asked myself my usual question, "How have I grown this year?" And then a better question came into my mind: "How much have I learnt about God this year?" The apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Ephesians 1:17) In those quiet few moments, before the bustle of a busy conference, I really felt God speak to me and encourage me to seek to know Him better.

You can download all the talks from the Newfrontiers website and they're all great. Here are four of the main session preaches that have particularly stirred me...

Jay-Z at Glastonbury was a controversial booking that proved a resounding success; the same could be said for Mark Driscoll at Brighton. His doctrines and style make him something of a Marmite speaker (you know, love him or hate him) and I'm definitely on the loving team. I already was having listened to his preaches from the church he leads, and I am even more now. In three talks he showed us how the Spirit is given to us to make us more missional, what a missional church with missional leaders is like, and how our movement can remain missional. Careful readers will have noted the key word in that sentence. Driscoll's talks presented a paradigm shift in how many of us think about the church. I believe his teaching was thrillingly biblical, and both confirmed and challenged me about how I live and lead.

David Stroud leads ChristChurch London and the Newfrontiers UK team. He is a pioneering leader so he spoke as an expert in his talk on Jonathan and his armour-bearer, perhaps best summarised as "Perhaps God..." As he spoke and gave opportunity to respond I found myself wondering and praying about what God wants me to do. I've made a couple of decisions already, and if you want to be stirred about faith adventures in your life then have a listen.

So the leadership challenges for me are both personal and church-related. How can I live a live of faith day-by-day, and how can I help the elders at Brickhill change the culture in our church? These opportunities are great presents from God, maybe this was better than Christmas!