Rob White signed off our 2011 Conference by highlighting two things that should be at the heart of Fresh Streams going into the future:
The power of the Spirit
We are a Word & Spirit network, but we as leaders are prone to major on the Word and minor on the Spirit.
It’s less risky (except the possibility of boring people with poor preaching, or saying something they don’t like!). We can download aids for preaching, even whole sermons, but we can’t download aids for the Holy Spirit’s power – it’s God who downloads the Spirit to us, and then we take the risks as we step out in ministry.
Ever since creation the Spirit has put God’s resources in human hearts & hands.
Some people say, “The charismatic movement is over”. So what! The Person & the power behind it are not over! The Spirit’s power is not a fad, phase or fringe benefit, but foundational and fundamental to mission, lifestyle and worship.
We need the Spirit to infect, infuse, inspire and invigorate our churches,
so we must preach the baptism & filling of the Holy Spirit and practise His presence without fear or favour, let or hindrance. Without the Holy Spirit’s power we’ll get reduced from the Acts of the Apostles to merely the ‘Facts of the Apostles’.
“How good & pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity …. for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore”. Unity is not an imposition, interruption or impracticality, but an imperative – “Maintain the unity of the Spirit…” (Ephesians 4). We can’t obtain it; Jesus did that. But we’re commanded to maintain it.
There are lots of right-sounding words spoken about unity, but not nearly as much action. It’s no good prattling, preaching or even praying about unity – we have to practise it. It means getting alongside others – bigger churches sharing their resources with less well-resourced churches, and learning from those smaller churches which often have greater faith & tenacity, and leaders helping one another.
It’s about intentional, purposeful gathering, bringing encouragement, help, and sharing resources. In the present context of Mainstream those opportunities exist in the prayer and fasting days, where we can encourage one another throughout the year with much of what happens in the annual conference. And, as we practise unity, we’ll have many an opportunity to see the power of the Spirit released!