Some from our Welcome Church team have been in Peterborough this week at an event called ‘Growing To The Next Level’, and it’s been a huge blessing.
The focus was on “Missional Expansion”.
Dave Smith from Kingsgate Church in Peterborough kicked off the event talking about Isaiah 54v2-3 (from The Message translation), “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. You’re going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family. You’re going to take over whole nations; you’re going to resettle abandoned cities”. This set the scene for the whole event, pointing us to God’s heart for His Kingdom to expand as we build Holy Spirit filled churches who are on fire with evangelism and bring transformation to our communities.
Darlene Zschech from Hillsong Australia spoke about God’s heart for mission from Isaiah 61/Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor …”. She talked about how encountering Jesus in worship transforms us from the inside out so that we start to express Jesus’ heart in our lives, which includes caring for those in need. She explained how true worship flows over into doing good to others, and highlighted the importance of all we do as churches to serve the community, especially those in need. (Let me encourage you to get involved with that in some way, if you’re not already).
Josh Howard from India talked about the growth they’ve seen, with 16,000 churches planted since 2015. They are a ‘house church’ movement, so their approach is very different from ours and not one we feel called to adopt, but we can learn from their ‘principles’ whilst applying them contextually within our own calling as a church – and there was lots for us to learn from him! Josh talked about how God doesn’t NEED us (we are not the saviour) but that we need to know that God does WANT us, and will work through us (which is our privilege). Josh called us all to think beyond addition towards multiplication, and we all left his talk with a desire to look way beyond what we currently see and have vision for. It was a clear call to think much bigger and have faith for a whole lot more.
Rachel Gardner from Youthscape called us to face up to the reality of living in a ‘post-Christian’ nation, where we are surrounded by people who KNOW FOR SURE that “Christianity is irrelevant, implausible, oppressive and powerless” whilst they actually know almost nothing about real Christianity. She challenged us about the need to “recover our mission” and find fresh ways to proclaim the Kingdom of God that address the culture we actually live in today. Our “Belong, Believe, Become” approach is something we’ve already done towards this, but there is much more we can do.
Other highlights from our time away included some fantastic worship and ministry times, some great seminars, and a lot of fun had together as a team.
The event was a mix of talks, seminars, coaching and group work done together as a church team. We left with a structured ‘action plan’ for how to take our key learnings forward together. I won’t post that plan here – that’s our tool to use as a team – but we will now look to work it out over the next 24 months, so watch this space for what’s ahead.
Following this event the rest of the team headed home to Woking whilst I travelled on to Enfield for a gathering of the various Newfrontiers UK Apostolic Teams. (I’m writing this from a Travelodge in Enfield.) I’m here as part of the Commission UK Team, along with Chris and Jo Kilby from Life Church Southampton. It’s been a great event so far. See you at the weekend.