Finally getting round to reflecting on the teaching and worship at New Wine LSE. I've been whining about the weather for long enough and something has got to distract me from keeping looking at the cricket score today!
I spent the mornings in Venue 2 which is smaller and louder but more relaxed and informal than Venue 1. I liked the fact that normal people, not just New Wine leadership team members, are deemed suitable to pray at the beginning of each session. Mike Breen was the speaker all week. He was reflecting a lot on discipleship, comparing it usefully to Horse whispering (you'll have to download the talks, or read my steal) and giving some really good insights into the significance and typology of the Abrahamic covenant, relating the story of Isaac's "sacrifice" to the sacrifice of Christ and saying some helpful things about the whole PSA debate.
Mike speaks with humour and with speed, but is entertaining enough that when you disagree with him (as I did about bishops) you don't get too cross and keep listening.
In the evenings I joined the herd at Venue 1, which had a variety of speakers. Amy Orr-Ewing was very good, though not exclusively because she was a woman under 50 on the stage at Venue 1 in New Wine (next step an ordained woman - come on you people!)
Michael Duncan blew me away with his testimony and his challenge to men to "step out". I haven't gone forward for prayer at New Wine for about 5 years - that day it was twice - once in the morning at venue 2 for over-burdened ministers , once in the evening at venue 1 for men. Mark Melluish said something very significance during the build up to the prayer ministry following Michael Duncan's talk.
He said (quoting as I remember it) "It's not very politically correct, but I think a lot of women have been waiting for this for a long time, I'd like only women to pray for these men as they come forward". The significance of this, in the light of various debates about New Wine's attitude to gender roles and ministry, is that women were freed to pray over, prophesy over, and speak with authority into the lives of men. OK its not quite the same as the ordination thing but for me it was a significant shift, and it was liberating.
Mark Melluish also spoke very movingly on the last night about the events in his family following his son's serious head injury earlier in the year. This was also a significant evening, touching as it did on issue such as the tension between what happens when God heals and when he doesn't, as well as giving a challenge to our middle class comfort zone when it comes to sharing faith in multicultural environments like ITU family rooms.
The worship this year was also good I enjoy Eoghan Heaslip (aka Shaka Hislop because I can never say his name right) and Kathryn Scott made a nice change. Matt Redman's looking a bit chubby these days but can still cut it, and also in venue 2, Bill Donoghue and Nick Herbert woke me up well in the mornings.
I didn't go to many seminars this year as I spent more time networking and drinking free coffee in the Leaders' Lounge, but I wasn't going to miss "Building an Outward focused church" led by Alan Scott from Causeway coast vineyard. It was ace, and once you've translated "vineyard" to "Anglican" in the cultural references, it was most useful. The most challenging thing he said in the light of the fact that we've just put together our vision statement, was that "If no one is leaving your church, your vision statement is too broad". I guess I'm ambivalent about the Vineyard tendency to say "if you don't like it you know where the door is", but sometimes I wish I could say it!
Other highlights included the good old Groundbreakers family celebrations, and my daughter on stage with the New Wine kids choir. And of course staying up late in the gazebo talking with the gang.
Next year we might try Newark, to see if we can tempt a few more of this lot to come.