My next couple of blogs will be giving you the low down on a gathering at Southlands@the Gallery from June 10th - 12th. It's called Urban Renewal - an Acts 13 moment. For some time now Chris and I have been chatting about the fact that most of our conference type events have been either Acts 20 events, where Paul gathered the Ephesians elders together for his last words on shepherding God's flock. These leadership training times have been very helpful, and in many ways are still fruitful where there is a genuine apostle, equipping pastors to be better pastors. More recently there have been some good Acts 15 type gatherings, where Paul and Barnabas met with the leaders in Jerusalem to discourse around theology - in particular the gospel to the Gentiles. We have loved the chance to sharpen one another theologically in these forums, and are needful of the emergence of genuine five-fold teachers to equip the saints to handle God's Word like faithful workmen.
What we have felt is missing though, is an Acts 13 type gathering. Here the church gathered together to worship, to pray, to fast(not so wild about that!) and to wait on the Holy Spirit's leading. The result was a new mission for Paul and Barnabas, which meant the gospel went further and wider, bearing fruit in virgin soil.
That's the heart of Urban Renewal.
So what would be some of the ingredients in the mix? Well firstly, it would be a partnership of prophets and teachers. Acts 13:1"In the church at Antioch were prophets and teachers." This means a rich and diverse gift mix in the team of friends who will partner together for a more fully - orbed expression of church.
Perhaps more important than that though, is a commitment in our gatherings to both the ministry of the Word and the ministry of the Spirit. A marriage of the two. This doesn't just mean that when a teacher gets up to teach they are biblically sound, and when a prophet gets up to prophesy they are Spirit -led. That's easy!
Our desire is for a gathering where prophets would be biblically sound and teachers would be Spirit-led. That's much harder! But its something that we believe God is wanting us to try and model at Urban Renewal. A theologically rich and prophetically weighty gathering.
The church has been far too divided along prophetic and teaching lines. We either have 'teaching churches' that are biblically solid but tending to be a bit sluggish in following the Spirit. Or we have 'prophetic churches' that are wonderfully Spirit-led but hazardous in their handling of scripture. God wants every one of us to have deeper biblical roots and deeper Holy Spirit wells.
So, Urban Renewal is about equipping the church to be biblically strong and prophetically sharp.
Early bird registration will be up and running on the Southlands website by February.
We would love it if you and your church could be there.