Here’s Andy Glover’s thoughts:
This week I have spent 48 hours at the Fresh Streams national conference. This is the 3rd year that I have been heavily involved in the planning, preparation and delivery of the conference as one of the members of the Fresh Streams leadership team. This year we had Duncan Akehurst with a small team leading us for the sung worship and our speakers were Kenny and Morag Borthwick; Chrissie and Gerard Kelly and Martin Young.
The two main speaking pairings will be known to many as experienced, competent speakers with a track record of touching people’s lives through their ministry. Kenny and Morag Borthwick from their work with CLAN in Scotland and the New Wine Network in England; Chrissie and Gerard Kelly from their leadership of the Bless Network and, in years past, involvement with Spring Harvest.
Kenny used his sessions to think about what it means to be immersed in the character of God as Father, Son and Spirit (God’s presence, being in Christ and the Holy Spirit filling our emptiness). Chrissie / Gerard talked about going further into God and into mission with some interesting imagery suggesting God needs sailors not taxi drivers because taxi drivers take you where they know whereas sailors have courage to go where no one has been. (Thanks to Neil Brighton for this short summary)
Martin spoke about the pressures of being a church leader especially as you come up against the complexities of control and manipulation that can rear their heads within the congregation.
For me some of the highlights were:
- The privilege and honour of working with men and women who are humble and passionate to serve God, the team dynamic of leading Fresh Streams for me is refreshing and fun.
- Being prayed for at the end of the conference and the sense of excitement that God has his hand on Fresh Streams and that he is working in and through us to establish and advance his Kingdom across the nation. This was shared with us as part of this: ‘Fresh Streams will turn into fresh rivers, you are in the vanguard of a new way of doing and being leaders together that will refresh and inspire many to follow your lead. Be clear on your purpose as a movement and trust that God is guiding you ahead.’
- Seeing creativity being expressed through art, poetry and media that helped people connect to God, the one who creates all things
- Hearing from Lynn Green (BUGB General Secretary) and Ernie Whalley (BUGB President) as they talked about their hopes and dreams for Baptist Together across England and Wales,
- Being in an atmosphere where being a “Charismatic Baptist” is celebrated and not just tolerated – for me to be with others with a similar value base of “word and spirit” and a similar practice of sung worship, prayer ministry, gifts of the spirit and a demonstration of the Kingdom ministry not just a proclamation. So many times we had the feedback ” I didn’t know that there were Baptist churches and church leaders who were like this!!
- Hearing stories and examples of churches faithfully engaged in mission week in and week out and a hunger and desire to develop a pioneering and missional heart within leaders. The example of Learning Communities as a means by which to see growth and development in a church was highlighted with both 3dmEurope and Lead Academy profiled.
- Hearing the stories of what God had done in peoples lives whilst at conference – here is one example: “The conference is always a wonderful time of learning from God, experiencing Him working in my life and seeing Him clearly at work in others. It always brings challenge, inspiration, information and fellowship and is a really lovely refreshing time where God always speaks and I am able to hear Him.”