Together at Plumpton 2012

I have made a habit of writing short reviews of Bible weeks I attend on this blog, so I’ll give a brief account of Together at Plumpton 2012. If I were to summarise it in one word, it would be “windy”.

The conference began on Wednesday evening, with a talk from Dave Devenish on the parable of the great banquet. Then on the Thursday, he gave a two part series on the biblical metanarrative, surveying the OT in the morning, before going on to the NT in the evening. I seem to remember a lot of discussion in blogs several years ago on the way evangelicals have failed to tell the story of the whole Bible, preferring to extract out ‘principles’ and ‘doctrines’, and teaching those directly. But Dave Devenish has been something of an advocate in newfrontiers for a return to telling stories as a significant part of our teaching, and it was interesting to see him use this technique to good effect.

Unfortunately, Thursday night I was on babysitting duty, and with very strong winds, ended up spending most of the evening helping people whose tents were broken. Several people left there and then, and after a sleepless night of gale force winds, even more people packed up their broken tents and left in the morning.

There was more drama to follow on the Friday as the violent rushing winds continued, and the main marquee had to be evacuated before Julian Adams got to speak. Our church marquee was next to fall, and by lunchtime with the wind unabating, most people with tents were fleeing the site.

Sadly, although our family tent was still standing at this point, our small tent for our two oldest children had been flattened, and as we were reliant on lifts from other campers to get all our family home, we reluctantly decided to go home too. It was the first time we have actually had to abandon a Bible week midway through. The closest we previously came was Stoneleigh 99 when severe flooding meant we had to spend a night on a friend’s floor in Birmingham.

The speaker we missed hearing due to going home early was, ironically, our own pastor, Martyn Dunsford. Hopefully he can work some of the material he brought into his sermons back at KCC.

It is interesting the way that these “together at” conferences have mirrored the structural changes to newfrontiers. Back in 2001, Terry Virgo was the figurehead of the movement, and there was one big central Bible week called Stoneleigh. Now, we have multiple “apostolic spheres”, each with its own smaller scale conference. Although these may feel less “impressive” than a huge event like Stoneleigh, they have a bit more of a missional feel to them – a small band of churches who are working together to see the kingdom expanding through growth in our own churches and through planting into the UK and the nations. In this sense these conferences are a good example of the “creative destruction” Matt Hosier blogged about recently.

Update: The talks from Plumpton 2012 are available to listen to here.

Book Review–Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission (David Devenish)

One of the distinctives of the newfrontiers family of churches, of which I am a part, is the desire to “restore” the role of the apostle in today’s church. This makes some evangelicals very nervous. For example, John Stott regularly argued against the possibility of modern day apostles in the Bible Speaks Today series, despite presumably not having a problem with bishops and archbishops, given his Anglican connections.

This book can be broken into three main sections. The first attempts to define what is meant by a modern day apostle and make a biblical case for their validity. The second then lays out what the content of “apostolic foundations” should consist of. And the third then goes through several practical aspects of the ministry of an apostle.

He disarms much of the suspicion against modern day apostles by explaining that there are at least three “categories” of apostle in the New Testament, and that modern day apostles are not to be understood as functioning in the same way as the original twelve.

There are no new arguments presented, but the most compelling evidence is that of those in the NT outside the twelve designated as apostles, and Eph 4:11 which strongly implies that Christ gives more apostles after his ascension.

The function of apostles is summed up by the slightly cumbersome title of the book – “Fathering leaders, motivating mission”. That is to say that an apostle has a “fatherly” relationship with the leaders of local churches rather than simply being the next level of management up, or someone invited in as a consultant. But the apostle’s role goes further than just helping local church leaders – the apostle is actively involved in the establishment of new churches.

He devotes a few chapters to outlining key doctrines, such as the grace of God, which are vital for churches to fully understand, and explains how an apostle can help to lay those foundations.

The latter part of the book then deals with some of the practical aspects of apostolic ministry, such as how apostles can input into the appointment of elders, or the discipline of leaders, and how apostolic ministry is to be financed.

He has taken care to ensure that proper safeguards are in place, as another reason many get nervous about the idea of modern day apostles is the potential for overbearing control, or abuse of power. He explains the value of “apostolic teams”, where the apostle travels with other trusted companions for increased accountability.

One benefit of this book is that the author has plenty of experience of what he is talking about, providing fatherly oversight to leaders both in the UK and abroad. It means that there are plenty of helpful stories and examples that illustrate the points he is making. He has some particularly good insights into the issues of planting and overseeing churches in different cultural contexts.

The book ends with some answers to a few questions, and the one question I was wondering whether he had forgotten came right at the end. It is the issue of “apostolic succession”: what about well established churches, or when an apostle dies? Do how do you allocate a new apostle? Or do some churches no longer need to receive apostolic input? His answer is unfortunately a little brief, but he does make the point that leaders in every generation need to be fathered.

He gives an even-handed answer to the question of women apostles – noting the possibility that Junias may have been a female apostle, but indicating his preference for a complementarian position.

Overall I would say David Devenish has served us well by covering this topic so thoroughly and this is a book that deserves to be read by the wider evangelical world, particularly those involved in church planting movements.

Together at Westpoint 2011

I got back yesterday from Together at Westpoint, which is a four day Bible week for the churches in the south & south west region of newfrontiers. (It’s the fourth time we’ve been – here’s my reports from 2008, 2009, 2010). After surviving the treacherous driving conditions on the way due to the flash flooding in Bournemouth, we enjoyed surprisingly good weather while we were there. The journeys there and back did allow me to listen to several of the talks from this year’s newday conference, which despite being aimed at teenagers will benefit listeners of any age.

A disappointment this year was not being able to persuade anyone from our church to come with us, so we joined up with The Family Church, Christchurch, who had been so welcoming of us last year when we camped next to them. One benefit was that I got to play in their church football team. We somehow or other made it to the final before being comprehensively beaten by Grace Church, Chichester. My eldest son, Ben, also was in the winning team in the children’s football tournament and hasn’t taken his medal off since.

I got to hear three of the main talks, first from John Groves, who drew out some lessons from Ex 23:20-30 about the way God is leading his people through conquest and conflict. Next I heard Terry Virgo speak from Ezra 1:1-7 and Isaiah 1:7-9 on our identity as “Survivors” whose judgment is past, “Seers” with a vision for the future and “Supporters” whose commitment is in the present. Finally I heard Jeremy Simpkins unpacking Gen 49:22 about a fruitful vine, near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall – a prophetic promise fulfilled in Christ, but with relevance for us also as those who are in Christ. All three talks reminded us of the greatness of God and inspired fresh faith for mission.

The remaining three sessions I spent helping out in the kids work. An amazing amount of planning, prayer, and hard work was put in by the superb team that led the work and it was a privilege to be a small part of it and see God at work in the lives of the children. In some ways that was the highlight of the week for me, and I was moved by the dedication and love shown by the team. The theme of the kids work was “mission is possible”, and featured stories of various missionaries past and present.

The Saturday night saw us take up an offering, and Guy Miller declared that he felt we should go for the rather audacious target of £100,000 to fund various projects planned next year. I missed the announcement of the total, so was delighted to read on Matt Hosier’s blog that we managed to raise £101,000, not bad for just under 2000 people, many of whom are children. More exciting than knowing that we hit our target is seeing the progress of church plants we heard about last year, and hearing about new ones in their early stages. My good friend Mark Mould was there who will soon be joining up with the new Junction 13 church plant in Eastleigh. I also got to hear from some friends at Life Church Southampton about the exciting developments in their plans to plant an Southampton “eastside” congregation.

Whilst the scale and scope of the “Together at” Bible weeks is more modest than events such as New Wine or Stoneleigh, I love the church planting and mission focus of these events, and think it is vitally important for whole churches to catch a wider vision of what God is doing in our nation and around the world. Hopefully next year I’ll manage to persuade some people from KCC to come along.

Come with us and we will do you good

I hope my non-newfrontiers readers will forgive me for a few posts reflecting a little on the group of churches I am part of. Today was the final day of the final Together on a Mission conference, as newfrontiers moves into an exciting new phase.  

I have to confess I am something of a sermonoholic. I must have listened to thousands in my lifetime. I used to have boxes and boxes of sermon tapes in the garage (still have some I can’t bring myself to part with even though I have no cassette player anymore). One of the sermons is dated 2nd May 1981, and is by Terry Virgo, when he came to visit the church I attended (West Street Baptist Church in Dunstable) for an “All Saints Night”. I was five years old at the time, so I can’t say I recall it vividly. The text was Num 10:29, “Come with us, and we will do you good”. It’s a sermon I know he has repeated in several places (including his final talk at TOAM 2006), but I suspect this was one of the first times he brought the message. I’ve uploaded it so you can have a listen below:

[audio:Terry Virgo – Come with us.mp3]

My next run-in with what was to become newfrontiers was a visit to some friends Hove in 1987. We attended their church in the morning (sadly I can’t remember who spoke but I’m pretty sure Dave Fellingham was leading worship), and in the afternoon I was told they were going on a “witness march”. It sounded like the most deathly boring and cringingly embarrassing thing for an 11 year old to do on a Sunday afternoon and I almost opted out of it. But what I experienced that afternoon left a lasting impression on me. It was an early one of Graham Kendrick’s “March for Jesus”. I loved the songs, and held on to the song-sheet for years afterwards (probably still have it somewhere). I still instinctively start playing “The Lord is marching out in splendour” whenever I pick up a guitar. Here’s a photo I took on the day:

Hove 1987

I had very little contact with newfrontiers after that – our church was part of a different apostolic sphere (or under different “covering” as it was called at the time), under the remarkable Ern Baxter. The Bible weeks we attended linked up more with Barney Coombs from Basingstoke and Bryn Jones from Bradford.

It wasn’t until 1999 that I had my next real run-in with newfrontiers. I agreed to go to Stoneleigh Bible week, taking a handful of young people from my church, although I was fairly cynical and suspicious of the charismatic movement at this stage, believing most to have lost their evangelical commitment to the Bible. My prejudice was blown away as men like Dave Holden, John Hosier, John Groves, Greg Haslam, Dave Devenish, Simon Pettit and Terry Virgo himself hit successive home runs with outstanding Biblical exposition. It restored my faith that churches of “Word and Spirit” really could exist (hence the title of my blog).

So when we moved to Southampton in 2001, I wanted to at least give the local newfrontiers church a try. Almost 10 years ago now, we joined KCC, a church actually located in Hedge End, which we fell in love with immediately. It had recently moved into a new auditorium seating 300 and this Sunday will be our first meeting in our new building seating well over 1000 and we are excited to see what God will do with and through us in the coming years.

It struck me as I listened again to Terry’s talk, “Come with us and we will do you good” that that is exactly what has happened for us. I am so grateful to God for linking us up with a group of churches who love the Word and are filled with the Spirit. I love the emphasis on church planting and mission to the ends of the earth that permeates the movement. I am well aware that no local church or group of churches is without fault, but I have to say that even given my tendency towards cynicism, this is a family of churches I feel privileged and proud (in a godly kind of way) to be associated with.

My advice to any Christian who finds themselves looking for a church is to find a group of people who love God and have a big vision for seeing the earth filled with his glory. It will do you good and you won’t regret it.

TOAM 2011

I managed to get down as a day visitor to Brighton for the final newfrontiers Together on a Mission conference on Wednesday. Though I never get to go for the whole week, attending the conference is always one of the highlights of the year for me. I have to commend newfrontiers for making the talks available for free allowing everyone to benefit from the teaching.

Session 1 – Matt Hatch – A Culture of Discipleship in the Local Church

I have always found Matt Hatch very helpful and provocative on the subject of accountability and developing a culture of discipleship within the church since I first heard him at TOAM a few years ago. This time he took us through John 4, highlighting the importance of communicating the acceptance of Jesus and moving people to a place of delighting in Jesus. Some of his church resources on accountability are available here, and his seminar certainly provoked some thought about being more proactive in seeking to disciple the men in my cell group.

Session 2 – Dave Stroud

Then came Dave Stroud with a main session in which he outlined some of the future plans for newfrontiers in the UK, which it seems will consist of several distinct “apostolic spheres” working together under his guidance. He picked out five challenges for courageous leadership. First was, everything leadership, which essentially is a call for the church to broaden her horizons and have a more holistic vision of the mission of God. Second, missional leadership, by which he means churches that are deliberately engaged with the communities they are located in. Third, affirming leadership, in which he reminded us that, though newfrontiers remains theologically complementarian, there needs to be a firm commitment to creating environments that are equally liberating for both women and men. Fourth, embracing leadership, in which he expressed the desire for newfrontiers to take up a more central role within evangelicalism, rather than watching from the sidelines. I found this very interesting, and perhaps more controversial than his third point in some ways. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Finally, he called for naturally supernatural leadership, which seemed to be a gentle rebuke aimed in the direction of those who seem to assume that the mark of spirituality is strange behaviour.

Session 3 – Terry Virgo

In the afternoon, Terry Virgo spoke on Heb 12. As always, his amazing gift for teaching was a joy to receive. He spoke on the Lord’s discipline, and particularly applied his message to people struggling with bitterness. Adrian Warnock notes are here.


Worship was led by Kate Simmonds and Simon Brading. There was the usual mix of new songs along with well-loved classics. I love the atmosphere at TOAM – thousands of people, passionate about God and hungry to meet with him. It draws you in, even if you are feeling tired (which I was).

Session 4 – PJ Smyth on Sickness, Suffering and Healing

Finally, in the evening it was PJ Smyth. I must confess I wasn’t impressed at all with PJ Smyth when I first heard him at TOAM 2006, which with hindsight I realise was more a reflection of my own arrogance than any faults with PJ. In any case I have warmed to him over the years, and the message he brought was one of the most outstanding I have heard on the the subject of suffering, bringing a faith-filled, thoroughly biblical perspective to bear on the trial he has gone through in the last year as he has battled cancer.

I won’t attempt to outline his talk, because Adrian Warnock has already blogged a detailed outline, and you can download notes and listen to it online. But suffice to say, this is one well worth your time. It is the best treatment of the subject I have come across since I read Mark Stibbe’s Fire and Blood.

Another very powerful moment that evening was when John Groves got up to lead us in a kind of corporate promise-making ceremony (the day after I blogged about how little we emphasise promises in our movement). We rededicated ourselves as a movement to fulfilling the key prophetic exhortations that have shaped newfrontiers over the years. It was a holy moment as we answered “we will” to the various charges to remember. I would love to hear that cry of “we will” resound throughout all the individual churches too – it is not just the leaders, but every member who must play a part in seeing these promises come to fulfilment.

Together at Westpoint 2010

I got back today from Together at Westpoint, a regional newfrontiers camping weekend featuring Bible teaching, worship and kids’ work. We had teaching from Guy Miller and Dave Stroud, with Chris Kilby finishing off with a gospel appeal. Probably my favourite talk from the week was Dave Stroud on Noah and the life of faith.

For me, one of the most exciting things about these weekends is hearing what is happening in the region and around the world with church planting. It is great to see that churches in their early stages last year are now becoming established and more plants are planned for the coming year.

Our church only had a small group this year, but we were very blessed to be camped right next to the incredibly warm and hospitable Family Church Christchurch, who more or less adopted us as their own for the week, and we went on a day trip to Exmouth with them the day after the conference ended (you could pay to stay two extra nights).

Together at Westpoint Cropped

Worship was led by Matt Giles and the inimitable Evan Rogers, who once again had us all dancing and doing silly actions. I’ll leave you with a video to give a taste of the event…

Dave Bish has a report on the conference too.

Together at Westpoint

Any of my readers going to Together at Westpoint this year (or accellerten as my kids insist on calling it)? Would be great to meet up with you if you are, especially as there is a disappointingly low turnout from my church this year. Comment on this post or send me an email.

It should be a good time, with David Stroud and Guy Miller speaking and Evan Rogers and Matt Giles leading worship.

TOAM 2010

After sadly missing out last year, I was able to make it for a day visit to the newfrontiersTogether on a Mission” conference this year. As always, Adrian Warnock is doing a sterling job of live-blogging the conference. You can also get real-time updates by following the #TOAM hashtag on twitter.

I always find a visit to TOAM to be a spiritually refreshing and energising experience and this year was no different. I’ll just give a brief report on the sessions I went to.

Session 1 – Matt Hosier – Faithful & Fruitful – The “Lion”

My first session of the day was a seminar by Matt Hosier. His was the first in a series entitled “The Lion, the Bear & the Bulldog”, which was about how we can remain faithful and fruitful at different life stages. I just about still fall into the “Lion” category (up to 35). He worked his way through 10 things you should do before you are 40, based on a list from John Maxwell.

Rather than being a biblical exposition, it was more a collection of proverbial wisdom: “become reconciled to your averageness”, “don’t be dictated to by the tyranny of the urgent”, “things that are worth achieving take time”, “develop the skill of friend making”. A nice touch was that a representative of each of the three age-groups was given a brief chance to give their perspective on the needs of those in the “lions” age range. We were reminded of the importance of simply being willing to serve, and the need to actively seek input from older generations. It was great to be prayed for by a really nice bloke from Brighton at the end.

Session 2

Sadly my visit was on a day when Dr Goodwill Shana was due to speak, and he was unable to attend due to visa problems. Still the extra time meant the day wasn’t quite so rushed as usual. It was great to meet some fellow newfrontiers bloggers, including Dave Matthias, Dave Bish, Steve Froud, and Steve Dunn.

Session Three – Terry Virgo – The Armour of God

The afternoon session started with worship led by Evan Rogers in his usual exhuberant style. Then it was Terry Virgo, preaching on “the need for defence”, working through the armour of God from Eph 6:10-17. It is testimony to his gift for Bible teaching, that a passage that most of us have heard preached on dozens of times was brought to life yet again, in a challenging & insightful way. I won’t summarise his points since Adrian Warnock has already done so here. He was particularly good on the breastplate of righteousness, and on the helmet of salvation, where he emphasised our future hope – the “not yet” part of our salvation.

Session Four – Dave Devenish – God’s Purposes Fulfilled Through Scattering

The evening session’s worship was led by Kate Simmonds, and we learned an excellent new song about the grace of God. Dave Devenish had the unenviable task of preparing a message for a major conference at very short notice. After a slightly rambling introduction he got right into his stride, speaking on the way that God fulfils his missional purposes through scattering. He showed that this was not merely apostles going to new places, but hundreds of ordinary people taking initiative at a grassroots level. I think this is a principle we really need to take hold of if we are to see significant gospel advance in our nation. Again Adrian Warnock has provided detailed sermon notes.

MP3 downloads

I obsessively listen to almost every TOAM message each year so am eagerly awaiting the downloads to appear on the newfrontiers website. Sadly they haven’t appeared online yet, but look out for them here over the next few weeks.

Together at Accelerate 09

I got back today from the Newfrontiers “Together at Accelerate” conference, which is a mini-Bible week running over the bank holiday weekend for the churches in the “Wessex” region. Here’s a few miscellaneous thoughts about what was a great holiday for our family.

First the bad. The less said about the football tournament the better. We crashed out in the first round, and I drew the short straw to play in goal so didn’t even get a proper game.

There was a better layout to the site this year, with tents surrounding the big top rather than all at one end, which made us a lot closer to the action than last year. And like last year, it was a very well run event – a superb effort from the organizational team.

Evan Rogers led worship for the opening meetings which those who have heard him before will know means lots of silly dancing. While his style not to everyone’s taste, you had to be impressed at the way he managed to get everyone joining in, and it gave a good kick-start to the weekend.

John Groves preached on the first night, and the remainder of the talks were shared between Guy Miller and a visiting Indian speaker Vinu Paul. I only heard one of Vinu’s talks, in which he gave a very Pentecostal style reminder of the vital need of the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives.

He warned us against low-risk Christianity which revolves around cake and coffee. I thought Guy Miller’s messages were well targeted and challenging. At the Brighton leaders conference, many of the talks revolve around how to be an inspiring visionary leader, but Guy made it very applicable to the whole church by tackling issues such as the importance of family, of sexual purity, submission to authority, and of how we behave in the workplace. If we are to be a ‘kingdom’ people, we need this kind of practical teaching on what it means to live under the rule of King Jesus.

One slightly interesting thing about this weekend is that it featured churches in the “apostolic sphere” of Guy Miller and his apostolic team. This was why we had the visiting speaker from India, and also why there were a good number from a church plant in Portugal. But the fact remained that for the British churches, we were simply carved up by region.

I still think newfrontiers need to wrestle with how they deal with the inevitable tendency for apostolic movements to tend towards a structure with regional apostles over time. If we say that “apostolic spheres” are built on relationship (particularly through an apostle being involved in the planting of the churches in his ‘sphere’), rather than on geography, do we not set ourselves up for tension in the future where churches are in the region of an apostolic leader but do not particularly consider themselves have a close relationship with him? I guess I am saying that the mechanics of a future for newfrontiers of “interconnected apostolic spheres” is a little unclear to me. This is a particular problem for established churches who may not really consider themselves to be in anyone’s “apostolic sphere”.

Although these smaller and shorter gatherings don’t quite reach the same heights that the old Stoneleigh Bible weeks did, I am glad to see they are becoming a regular fixture in the church calendar. Whilst the Brighton Leaders Conference and Mobilise serve as something of a replacement for envisioning church leaders and students, I always felt that the ‘ordinary’ church members were missing out, so it was great so see many families and grandparents on site – people who would never make it to the Brighton conference. It was also good to see many people still very new and immature in their faith, or not even Christians come along. Smoking, swearing and heated family arguments may not be the ‘nice Christian behaviour’ we try to encourage, but it does at least show that some our churches really are beginning to reach the “unchurched” and “urban poor” of their communities and experiencing the ‘messiness’ that brings with it.

Which brings me on to the subject of church planting. If in newfrontiers we are serious about spreading the gospel through church planting then we need everyone to catch the vision, from the youngest to the oldest. So I was very pleased to see that church planting was very much on the agenda, with a well attended seminar outlining some of the opportunities and practicalities of church planting, and a call to commit to church planting on the final night which many responded to.

Newfrontiers Future Directions

I have been thinking for some time about what the key influences on the newfrontiers group of churches are. What are the trends that will shape the future of our churches? I had hoped to post these thoughts a few months ago while Dave and Phil were posting about strengths and weaknesses of newfrontiers (see here, here, here and here), but things were a bit to busy.

So without further ado, here are what I consider to be the key four influences affecting newfrontiers, and the wider new church movement. Most churches I have come across are heading in one of these four directions.

1. Church Growth – (Bill Hybels, Hillsong, Rick Warren)

By “church growth”, I mean deliberately shaping your church around the intentionality to grow. Great music such as at Hillsong, and teaching that is seeker-sensitive and full of practical wisdom such as modelled by Bill Hybels have proven highly effective in building large congregations. These churches are not so well known for their doctrinal distinctives as for the excellence with which they do their Sunday morning service. Rick Warren (author of the Purpose Driven Church) would be another prime example of someone who has built a very large church with a non-denominational feel.

The strengths of this approach are the desire to take seriously the need to fulfil the great commission. Weaknesses include the danger of only appealing to the middle class (or worse still, to Christians from other churches), and the watering down of doctrine to make for a safe lowest common denominator (though to be fair, these churches tend to retain an evangelical commitment to the Bible at least in principle).

2. Reformissional – (Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll)

Though Terry Virgo is reformed in doctrine, newfrontiers perhaps hasn’t always had very strong ties with the rest of the reformed world due to their suspicion of all things charismatic. However, the combination of reformed doctrine with a missional emphasis such as that of Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, have deeply influenced many leaders within newfrontiers.

In additional to the reformed plus missional folk, there are also those such as C J Mahaney and Wayne Grudem who show a way to be reformed and charismatic. This has resulted in a stronger belief than ever that we can build churches that are biblically sound and doctrinally robust, while at the same time retaining our charismatic distinctives an taking on a more missional emphasis.

3. Neo-Pentecostal – (Rob Rufus, Todd Bentley)

I wasn’t quite sure what to call this, but what I mean by “Neo-pentecostal” is a very strong emphasis on the miraculous, including a confident expectation of healings. A good example would be Rob Rufus, who has twice spoken at the newfrontiers Brighton conference. There was also great excitement about the “Lakeland Revival” amongst many in newfrontiers circles, while others remained guarded about it.

This direction tends to be quite polarising, and in some ways is in conflict with the reformissional direction, although perhaps people like Sam Storms can show how those two emphases could be combined. It is not a tension easily held together though, as those who follow the direction set by the New Mystics will find themselves increasingly at odds with those of a more reformed persuasion.

4. Emerging Church (Rob Bell)

The final direction may seem surprising. In fact, few if any newfrontiers churches are following this path, although many of the other “restorationist” new church movements have done so. The emerging church is in many ways a critique of evangelicalism, including the charismatic movement. It emerges as “post-evangelical”, and “post-charismatic”.

While emerging leaders such as Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke do not have many sympathisers within newfrontiers, due to some controversial theology, figures such as Rob Bell are less polarizing (possibly Shane Claiborne too). Emerging churches are passionate about the environment, social justice and the poor, and downplay the importance of many things that conservative evangelicals would consider central. This can offer a refreshing change to those disillusioned with whatever branch of evangelicalism they find themselves in.

It would be nice to think that we adopt some of the positive aspects of the emerging movement without needing to compromise theologically. I have written about how I think that can be done here. Phil Whittall is the best example I can think of as a newfrontiers pastor who has taken on board some of the emerging church concerns of the environment, living simply and social justice.

Your Thoughts?

I would be interested to hear your feedback if you are part of newfrontiers (or if you are just interested). Do you agree with my analysis? Have I missed a direction? And which of these directions would you consider most fruitful? Personally I am most positive about the reformissional direction, and more cautious regarding the other three.