I had the chance to go as a day visitor to Together on a Mission yesterday and had a great time. Adrian Warnock and Andrew Fountain have been live-blogging the conference, so I won’t go into great depth, but here’s my report on the sessions I went to.
Matt Hatch – Spiritual Formation in Leaders
This was a fascinating seminar from Matt Hatch who planted Mosaic church in Leeds. He spoke of the crucial importance of developing character in leaders, rather than merely looking for gifting. He also warned of the danger of leaders getting to the place where they know the right things to say and do to make meetings go well, but neglect their own spiritual growth.
What I found most interesting was the way his church were going about helping people to develop. They place a strong emphasis on accountability pairs / triplets, and are ruthlessly honest with one another about their lives. There are also intensive discipleship groups for young men running over a 10 week period, as well as different groups for women and older men.
There were many other ways in which their church was seeking to make disciples, and I was impressed with the way they were focusing on developing character and spiritual maturity. Colin Baron pointed out in the question and answer session that this church were seeing tremendous growth in numbers – demonstrating that a focus on discipleship is not incompatible with growing a church (and may in fact be the best way to do it).
I was also very encouraged to see that there is a place in newfrontiers for an emphasis on spiritual formation – something that the emerging churches are very much into, but is sadly low on the agenda in many charismatic churches.
Dave Stroud – Main Session
Dave Stroud spoke in the first main session of the day and spoke of the values of newfrontiers, based on Acts 13. His five points were that we are to be:
- A people of the Spirit
- A people of the Word
- A people going into the world
- A people with anointed leadership (a reiteration of Eph 4 ministries)
- A people full of confidence
Rob Rufus – Main Session
Rob Rufus has become something of a celebrity in newfrontiers circles over recent years, but I must confess to still being unsure about him. Every time he speaks, the main emphasis seems to be on the “anointing” for miracles and power, and this was no exception. It started off with him making the important point that we should not seek God for his power, but for his presence. However, after some fooling around with a photographer he got the giggles and took a long time before being able to continue. He then went on to talk about many of the Pentecostal healing evangelists of last century, telling many stories from their ministries. While I don’t doubt that there were many great miracles, I felt uneasy with some of his stories, especially one involving the miraculous teleporting of jewelry, as it seemed to have the characteristics of an urban legend.
He then said that they had been given an “anointing” which they hadn’t fully used up, and so it was still available for us to use. We could go into the past and bring it into the present. I found this quite a strange concept. The meeting closed with him praying for healings and many people testified to being fully or partially healed. He prayed again for them, and the vast majority fell down immediately as he touched them. Andrew Fountain was one of those who was healed and touched by the Spirit (see his report here), so I’m looking forward to hearing from him about what he felt about that message and meeting.
Prayer Meeting and Offering
The evening prayer meeting was excellent. We had already had two great times of worship led by Matt Redman and Simon Brading, but as we expected, Evan Rogers was the worship leader for the evening event. We sang all the classic lively (& cheesy) worship songs, with lots of South African songs and lots of dancing. The prayer time was powerful, and I found it quite moving as we all listened to people from all over the world praying in their native languages. Terry Virgo then spoke briefly on the privilege of giving, before everyone danced forward to give into the offering and inflatable beach balls were batted around.
You can get a feel of what the evening was like courtesy of Adrian Warnock’s video (footage of the celebration is after the photos):