This week I had the privilege of attending the Acts 29 Europe conference in Nottingham England. http://acts29europe.com/beholdtheman/
I was there to lead one of the seminars and was only able to be there one day, but I found the whole experience fascinating. The following is not intended to be a full report but just the observations of a passer by. I make them not in any order of importance.
- Cornerstone Church building in Nottingham is impressive. Modern, well equipped and spacious. Ideal for city centre ministry.
- Acts 29 has this kind of ‘hip and happening’ image, where the bright young things, complete with beards, lattes and skinny jeans, gather together. Even as I mentioned I was going to this someone commented “ I can see you all you’re your checked shirts, man bags & skinny mocha lattes!”. Like all caricatures it is partially true. But when you meet Steve Timmis you realise ‘hip and happening’ cannot be true of all of Acts 29! The truth is that it is easy to be flippant and dismissive – even if the flippancy is at least partially based on truth. It actually did my heart good to see so many young men there.
- Acts 29 is international. I came across people from many different European countries. It can only be good that there is such interest in church planting throughout the continent.
- Vaughan Roberts is surely one of the best bible teachers in the UK today. Loved hearing him communicate the Word of God.
- The sung praise was good – except for two factors for me…the hymn to the tune of Auld Lang Syne just did not work for me, I couldn’t get the original words out of my head, and I wanted to link arms and start dancing towards the front! And personally I don’t sing when I can’t hear myself singing. In my view praise bands should lead the congregation in praise, not drown them out. Also standing for 30 minutes at the beginning was too much, but then maybe I’m old.
- Great to see some Free Church guys like Athole Rennie taking a key part, and the ever hip and happening Neil Macmillan….
- I loved staying with some of the Crowded House folks in Loughborough the night before. Love their commitment, style and hope.
- I enjoyed my seminar – on persuasive evangelism. It was packed and I am not sure I communicated all that well, but the response was good and it was so encouraging to see people motivated and stirred up to new ideas and hopes for outreach through their local churches.
- I loved the enthusiasm that greeted the idea of the Solas European News magazine. We launch in May and I think we may be on to something!
- We were in the heart of England and I cannot help but feel it is a dark heart. Middle England is overcrowded and under-Christian! What a great opportunity for a fresh expression and proclamation of the Good News. And ultimately that is what Acts29 is all about. Its not about the latest thing to come from the US, or how to trendy and cool European style. It is about doing Christ centred biblical evangelism in the first post-Christian continent so that it can become the first re-Christianised continent. Acts29 is not THE answer. But on the evidence of what I saw in Nottingham, it is a part.
Before I went to Nottingham I met with a senior evangelical leader who asked me a very pertinent question – ‘where is all the joy?’ I agree. Times may be hard. We may live in a secular culture and the church may be facing all kinds of internal difficulties. But the Good News is still Good News – and we have been given the joyous task of sharing that. If that is not part of our DNA, then we are of all people, the most miserable. Acts29 did not strike me as a joyless, dull, cynical place to be. May the Lord richly bless, encourage and use them to plant thousands of churches all across Europe.