Showing posts with label conference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conference. Show all posts

09 May 2013

Blessings at Ffald-y-Brenin

Three of us spent two days in south-west Wales at a Ffald-y-Brenin Blessings Conference. We heard a great deal about the biblical basis for blessing, in particular how we are responsible for blessing the people and places where we live out our daily lives.

Meeting in Caersalem Chapel
Ffald-y-Brenin is the little place in Wales that's become the epicentre of a worldwide movement of blessing.

I was there with my friends Sean and Jim for the Blessings Conference where Roy Godwin presented a series of sessions on blessing people and places.

They have been learning to do this from the retreat centre at Ffald-y-Brenin and now they want to share what the Holy Spirit has been showing them.

Roy provided extensive biblical context and backup for everything he said, and all of this material was presented in written form too. I also took my own notes and I'll share some thoughts that really stood out for me.

Highlights from my notebook

The mercy and grace of Yahweh are paramount and are foundational for our lives as followers of Jesus.

Much truth about blessing has been lost and is being rediscovered.

We are to stand in his presence (Deuteronomy 10:8, Numbers 6:22-27). The priests are responsible for blessing the people. (And we are all priests under Jesus, our Great High Priest.)

Blessing is about life (it's not merely a formula).

We can only bless because we have been blessed. Out of a place of blessing, we can bless others.

We shouldn't get caught up in lifeless religiosity, instead we engage with what brings life.

The Father says 'I like you' as well as 'I love you'. He knows us intimately and yet he is still for us.

We are appointed under blessing to a place, a relationship and a role (Genesis 1:26).

Entering the place of his blessing is to come back home to the place where we were always meant to be.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is clear that we have blessing in every place, over everything, in all we do - but we have to listen and obey.

John 8:56 - Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (Acts 3:25, Gal 3:7).

We can start with a blessing and look for a person to give it to; or we can start with a person and look for a blessing to suit them.

Roy suggests a helpful form of words, 'I bless you in Jesus name that ...' (Replace the three dots with something specific.) It's not a prayer request, it's much more a proclamation of Father's love and grace, mercy and peace.

The work at Ffald-y-Brenin - This has touched individuals, groups of people, places, businesses, farms, countryside, towns, cities, villages, farm animals, grass, homes, families - you name it.

You can read more in the form of extracts from the book, 'The Grace Outpouring'. Better yet, get a copy of the book and read it in its entirety.

We weren't exactly visiting Ffald-y-Brenin this time (we did that two years ago). The Blessings Conference involved too many people for the centre itself and instead we met nearby in Caersalem Chapel (photo above).

The name is a hybrid of Welsh and Hebrew. 'Caer' is Welsh for fort or fortress while 'salem' is a form of 'shalom', Hebrew for peace. So Caersalem means 'fortress of peace'. It is also an older Welsh name for Jerusalem and it would be in this sense that it was chosen as the name of the old chapel.

It was a great meeting! Sean, Jim and I travelled down by road from Cambridgeshire (about six hours driving), the meeting began at 14:30 on Tuesday and we stayed overnight in a golf club (a delightful place by the sea). The sessions ended at 16:00 on Wednesday and we headed home, arriving back in the evening.

Questions:

  • How often do you deliberately bless those around you?
  • Can you best bless people and places by your actions, by your words, or by both?
  • Identify someone you know and prayerfully consider what would be a suitable blessing. Why not go and speak that blessing over them?
  • Why not aim to repeat this with a new person weekly, or even daily?

See also:

16 October 2012

Debating science and faith

Science and faith sometimes appear to be at war. But is that inevitable? A conference in Switzerland is examining these issues and draws together influential scientists, theologians and philosophers.

The Whirlpool Galaxy
A conference is underway as I write, a conference with a difference. The whole affair is very refreshing and encouraging and exciting.

It brings together influential scientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the nature of science and faith, and focusses on the Big Bang theory and the discovery of the Higgs boson.

The conference is being held in Switzerland and is called 'The Big Bang and the interfaces of knowledge: towards a common language?' The aim is to explore questions around the interface between science and faith and whether a common framework of knowledge might be possible.

You can download the programme as a PDF file (165 kB) or read brief details online from the website of the organisers, Wilton Park in collaboration with CERN in Geneva. There's also a very useful BBC News article about the conference 'Big Bang and religion mixed in Cern debate'.

Here's the introduction from the full programme...

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for explaining the genesis of the universe. To date it has the wide support of the scientific community because if offers the most accurate and comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observations. It leads to a dating of the universe as 13.7 billion years old.

The purpose of this conference is to enable scientists from a range of disciplines to dialogue with philosophers and theologians from the world religions about the nature of the Big Bang Theory. What understandings might scientists and theologians share in common? How are their paradigms shaped and developed? Is it possible to develop a common framework or language?

Why is this conference so exciting? Simply because it's an unusual opportunity to discuss and (perhaps) reconcile views that are often perceived to be irreconcilable. And it's exciting because the conference involves experts who would rarely meet together. When a record of the meeting becomes available it will make very interesting reading and should spark further debate in the wider community.

We might borrow the words of Pontius Pilate and simply describe the topic of this meeting as 'What is truth?' Pilate was caught in a dilemma between religion and politics. The dilemma this meeting is discussing is quite different - it's examining two different kinds of truth.

How do you see the debate? Is it possible for science and faith to agree about anything at all? Are the two views truly irreconcilable or do they actually threaten one another? Is there an unbridgeable gulf between the two?

See also
  • Relationship between religion and science - Wikipedia, undated - Encyclopaedic article on the topic with further references.
  • Science and faith archive - Patheos, undated - A collection of links and book titles on the topic, updated from time to time.
  • Science and faith - again - Journeys of heart and mind, 22nd August 2012 - How do science and faith stack up against one another as ways of knowing the truth? Science provides truth about the physical universe while faith provides truth about spiritual things. Is there any overlap?
  • Science and faithJourneys of heart and mind, 7th January 2012 - Can I have faith and accept science too? Is that an unreasonable position to hold? Recent discussions on Jesus Creed have provoked me to write on this topic again.
  • Science and faith - war or peace? - Journeys of heart and mind, 25th April 2010 - The origin of the universe, the origin of life, evolution - these are some of the topics that seem to be endlessly debated across the science/faith divide. Why does this happen, what are the root causes of the sometimes strongly-worded arguments? Perhaps it's time to take a fresh look.
  • Science and faith: The conflict - The Telegraph, 16th March 2009 - A new film opening at the Cambridge Science Festival this evening attempts to demonstrate that the divide between religion and science is not as great as it has been portrayed.

16 October 2010

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 6

In this session Mark Stibbe spoke about 'The Dynamics of Displacement'. He began by looking at the cycle of captivity that can hold us and then the cycle of liberty which can keep us free.

Break a link to break the chainMark read Psalm 27:10, a verse that reminds us that even if our natural parents forsake us, Yahweh has promised to receive us and stand by us.

The Cycle of Captivity - Negative experiences -> Negative beliefs -> Negative expectations -> leads back to further negative experiences and the cycle continues.

The Christian life is a journey of completion. Such things as abandonment, rejection, abuse (verbal or physical), neglect, and bereavement allow the enemy to lead us to negative beliefs about ourselves. The enemy is the author of all lies and negative experiences allow us more easily to believe them.

Negative expectations often involve the words 'always' and 'never' about ourselves. A negative expectation can only be displaced by a supernatural counter-experience - the Father's love. Only divine love can displace an earthly wound. We need to experience Romans 8:15 for ourselves, it's the experience of the Holy Spirit.

The Cycle of Liberty - Positive experiences -> Positive beliefs -> Positive expectations -> leads back to further positive experiences and the cycle continues.

When we experience the Father's love we find that Jesus, the Son, is the Wonderful Counsellor that we needed. This is good news, great news!(Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 138:8)

It's for freedom that Christ set us free. Spurgeon once said that happy saints are attractive. (Romans 5:5, Romans 8:15)

See also:

15 October 2010

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 4

In this presentation, Mark Stibbe discussed 'Going to the Next Level'. He spoke about forgiveness, freedom, fulfilment, and finishing.

Larry in his lawnchairMark has been involved in some cross-party meetings at Westminster on the issue of fatherlessness in British society. He also mentioned that he is working towards creating a DVD of 'The Running Father' as a gift to every athlete at the 2012 London Olympics.

He introduced his subject by describing the adventures of 'Lawnchair Larry' who spectacularly went to 'the next level' in 1982.

In Mark 2:1-12 we see how the faith of the paralysed man's friends led them to 'go to the next level' in getting him before Jesus. We need three things to go to a new level in our lives, faith, friends and foes. Faith and friends are obvious, foes often irritate us like the thorns in the eagle's nest. The young bird might never try to fly if the nest remained cosy and comfortable.

Forgiveness - The man is forgiven first. Jesus speaks of his healing later, but first he announces that he is forgiven.

Freedom - After forgiveness he receives freedom - freedom to stand up, freedom to walk about. Can you imagine that freedom after many years of imprisonment in a body that is paralysed?

Fulfilment - The need to pick up the mat is prophetic, it's not an accidental detail, Jesus told him, 'Pick up your mat'. But why? The man is healed, he no longer needs his mat! In picking up the mat he is taking hold of the very thing that had previously taken hold of him. Instead of having to lie on his mat, now he is able to pick it up.

Finishing - It's so important to finish well. He can go home now. Jesus tells him, 'Pick up your mat and go home.' We need to finish well. When we're done people need to say, 'We've never seen it done like this before!' (verse 12)

See also:

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 3

During this session we heard Mark Stibbe speak on 'Varieties of Encounter'. He is an amusing and interesting speaker and had us in stitches at times. But he also makes some excellent points and there's a structured clarity in his thinking that provides a memorable framework.

Mark Stibbe
Mark began by explaining that we must all encounter Father's love for ourselves, we are all different. Yahshua said, 'I have made you (Abba) known to them.' (John 17:25-26) And he is still doing it!

We heard about the dentist's lie that, 'You won't feel a thing.' But cessationism isn't true, we can (and should) still experience spiritual life in all its fullness. However we all need to be hugged in different, tailored ways. Mark explained that the kind of hug he gives his son would be inappropriate for his daughter. So we mustn't all expect to receive Father's touch in the same way.

He may touch us dramatically, or gently, or somewhere along the continuum between the two. In the same way our experience may come suddenly or gradually over time. But the testimonies people share are usually dramatic and sudden, much more rarely gentle and gradual.

His touch may be mediated or unmediated (it might come through another person's prayer or a touch by their hands, but it may also happen without anyone else's involvement. And it may be sought or unsought by us (see Isaiah 65:1). Finally it may come through an experience of pain or an experience of joy (perhaps as a result of having a bad father or a good one).

See also:

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 2

'Touching the Father's Heart' was a conference organised by 'The Kings Arms' and held in their new building. Session 2 was on the subject of Repentence and was presented by Simon Holley.

Touching the Father's Heart ConferenceThis was the first session Donna and I could get to.

During the time of singing and praise before Simon began speaking I had several thoughts prompted by the Holy Spirit which I jotted down.

When you are in danger and struggling I will come to be with you - walking across the water if necessary. When you are thrown into the fiery furnace I'll stand there with you too. You will always be safe in me and with me.

Whatever the world throws at you, even death itself, I will not forsake you, abandon you, or leave you. Let no-one stand between me and my children.

Simon reminded us of the parable of the prodigal son. (Or the prodigal father - it depends how you look at it. The father was extravagant with his love.) He made the point that, like the son, we need to turn back to our Father (repent). We need to turn back from the 'pig styes' in our lives.

Self-reliance is a pig stye which is trusting in ourselves rather than in him. It's the opposite of resting in the knowledge that Father knows what I need. George Muller used to say, 'Let's see what Father will do.'

Fear clogs the machinery of our lives and wears us down. But we know that perfect love casts out fear.

Judgements are another pig stye. We have no idea what others exeriences and circumstances might be. Simon quoted Matthew 7:1-2.

Unbelief severs me from Father's plan for me. It's a spiritual poison. Fear results in prayer as a last resort, I may prefer to work things out for myself. When I think things will never change in my life I am revealing my unbelief.

Control is freedom but on my terms as in Luke 7:30. Many people welcome freedom and spontaneous zeal as long as there's not too much of it. But we need the rushing wind of the Spirit regardless of the cost to our desire to restrict him.

See also:

16 April 2010

Nottingham - Newforms Conference Session 1

Although we weren't registered and won't be present for the Newforms Saturday and Sunday sessions, The Newforms websiteSean and I were able to stay on for the first evening after the excellent pre-conference during the day.

Marsha Farmer opened the meeting and Peter Farmer followed up with further information. We heard about 'Broken Britain' where there are now very few churchgoers.

Peter introduced Tony Dale (visiting from the USA) and he spoke simply and quietly without notes, but to great effect. He began by asking how we might birth churches that consist mostly of people who are initially non-believers. Tony explained that Felicity had been unable to make the trip despite the intention that both of them would have been with us. They prefer whenever possible to share the work and for both to speak.

We heard about Victor Choudhrie's work and the very powerful move currently underway in India.

Tony made one remark that particularly stood out for me, I made a note of it. He said, 'The less successful we are, the more we need God'. This seems to me so true, in fact fundamental. We need to be driven by the teachings of Jesus, the encouragement of our peers, and by our own experiences to throw ourselves upon the Lord - not merely for help, but for basic direction day by day, moment by moment. If he doesn't build the house everything we do will be wasted.

Nottingham - Newforms pre-conference

Sean and I travelled up to Nottingham for the day to join Peter and Marsha Farmer and other simple church leaders for the Newforms Conference pre-meeting. From Tony Dale's Facebook pageWe didn't plan to stay for the main conference on Saturday and Sunday, but we were able to stay for the opening session on Friday evening.

We began by going around the room and saying a little about ourselves by way of introduction. There were, I think, eighteen of us. We came from all around the UK but mainly England. Peter Farmer then spoke for a while on the interesting topic of church planting movements and we spent some time in open prayer and sharing. Mim reminded us that Jesus is the King, Marsha prayed for emotional healing, especially for women who have so often been hurt by being overlooked or even at worst despised in church life and particularly in church leadership. I shared some things about the sheer privilege of being disciples and about Jesus' call to Peter to 'feed my sheep'.

Tony Dale joined us a little late due to some travelling difficulties, but we were glad to know that he made it into the UK before volcanic ash closed the airports. Felicity was unable to come due to an unexpected family commitment and although it was disappointing not to see her, at least we had one Dale with us!

Tony began by asking us what books and authors had particularly impacted our views on church life. Wolfgang Simson, Neil Cole, the Dale's own books, George Barna, Frank Viola, and Rad Zdero were mentioned, I added Paul Vieira and Bruxy Cavey to the list. many of these and more are listed on the House2House 'Books' page.

Tony then told us something of the background to their move to the USA and some of the events that had shaped their journey. He mention big and little church working in harmony, he described how the Lord has a destiny in mind for his people, and he pointed out that it is clear he's preparing us for something big.

He stressed that movements start rather small and multiplication is very slow to begin with. Tony also mentioned that we need expressions of church that are relevant to each culture and people group that we can identify.

Next, he considered the requirements for a movement to begin in Western Society. God has chosen to work through people, but we must choose to co-operate. Some kind of infrastructure is necessary too, to provide useful tools. Online social networks like Twitter play a very important part here. Ideas are essential and stories are a great way of getting them across. We need to 'tell a new story'. We also need to consider the language we use, for example 'Christian' carries various kinds of baggage for most non-believers.

We should think of church as a new way of life, not an event. Also it is imperative to ask Jesus and then do what we hear him say. We are meant to to be followers, a disciple is someone who recognises Jesus and does what he says (John 10:1-4). This is very significant in terms of mission! The Holy Spirit will lead us to the person of peace. We can teach anyone to listen and do.

Jesus always released people back into their sphere of influence (for example the Samaritan woman). Movements don't grow and divide, but they grow and send out again and again. Tony illustrated this by telling us a story from an Asian country in which great moves of the Lord were happening regularly. We need to dare to let our best people go if there to be any chance of a movement beginning.

Tony also touched on spiritual warfare, we need to 'be not ignorant of the Evil One's devices'. Something that had helped Tony and Felicity was to pray through the Psalms. At one point they had read that they should pray until the enemy was unable even to lift up his head, and in that way they found victory in a particularly difficult and trying time.

Another topic he covered was the place of women in ministry. This is a very important battleground and he and Felicity always minister together if possible. There is another principle that he mentioned, one that seems to me to be true and worth remembering. Tony said, 'What God did last tends to persecute what he does next. We need to forgive.'

What I've written above are just highlights here and there, things I wanted to jot down to keep. There was much, much more, it was a wonderful day!

06 April 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT - Newforms UK Gathering

This is to remind everyone about the Newforms UK Gathering due to take place in NottinghamThe Newforms UK Gathering from Friday 16th April until Sunday 18th April 2010.

The gathering has been arranged by Peter and Marsha Farmer who live in the city and have been active in mission and church planting locally.

It's not too late to book your place if you're not already signed up, and Nottingham is a good, central location for access from all parts of the UK.

07 February 2010

Moggerhanger Meeting - 7th February 2010


The day was grey and cold, but dry. People arrived at Moggerhanger Park and chatted for a while, then at 13:30 we set out to walk through the woods to look at the snowdrops. Snowdrops in the woods at Moggerhanger ParkHow beautiful they are, evidence that even in late winter there is life waiting to spring up wherever it can!

A hot meal
Back in the house we settled down to a hot meal of jacket potatoes with a choice of fillings - pork sausage and apple, or chicken and mushroom.

We sat in a large, double circle for the meeting. I began by welcoming everyone and commenting that church life was like the snowdrops, it has been hidden but is now springing up everywhere in the UK! Even so, most of us feel isolated and lonely in our little groups and it was good to get together like this for encouragement and a reminder that we are not alone.

Three short talks
Peter Farmer - Pete explained how he's been travelling the UK. There are 12 EU regions and he visited them all during 2009, one per month. He met something like six groups in most regions.

A person goes through stages in life, beginning as a child, then becoming a young person, and finally maturing into an adult. Churches go through similar stages, and most house churches in the UK are in the child stage. But Pete is looking ahead, as they mature how will they multiply? Adults produce offspring and churches should do the same.

He pointed out that there's ample opportunity. Ninety-eight percent of the UK population doesn't know Christ and needs to be reached. This is already happening in Asia as the house churches multiply, the numbers are staggering. 300 000 new churches planted in India, with 300 000 baptisms on the Day of Pentecost alone!

Pete lives in Nottingham, for more details see Mission Britain and his personal blog.

Chris Jefferies - I explained the idea behind Church of Two (CO2) and how useful I had found it in practice. It takes about five minutes per person so two or three people will need ten or fifteen minutes and can meet every day, something that is impractical with larger groups. CO2 is based on intentionally listening to what the Lord is saying individually, and then meeting to share what has been heard. The members also share their own feelings for the day under the headings sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, and tender.

In this way the group is daily sharing the Lord's heart and their own hearts with one another. It's then useful to pray for one another on the basis of what has been shared. CO2 is best done face to face, but where that's not possible it can be done over the phone or as a last resort by email.

I'm willing to run CO2 for a week with anyone who'd like to try it, doing it is by far the best way to learn it and discover if it might be useful.

I live in St Neots, you can read more on my website and on the blog 'All about Jesus'.

Pete Stamford - Pete described the excellent work done by X-treme Youth Camps and explained how it all began. He'd been thinking about a youth Alpha but wasn't sure how to approach it. As he was going upstairs one evening he heard a clear word from the Lord, 'What did you enjoy doing when you were a kid?'

The answer was fishing, making rafts, spending time roaming outside in the country, climbing trees. All the sorts of things that can be impossible for young people living in urban housing. Pete was looking for a way of reaching young people for the Lord, and he has found that fun and good food with sound teaching about Jesus is a winning combination. So the camps include canoeing, archery, games, music and more along with very direct, basic details about who Jesus is, why he came, how and why he died, and what this means for us.

Pete lives in Sharnbrook a few miles north of Bedford. I don't have a website for Pete, but this item from 'All About Jesus' shows him at work. The video is a trailer for the 2007 camp and Pete appears in the still, teaching archery.

The Open Meeting
The rest of the meeting was an open session. Nobody led and nothing was prepared beforehand, instead we looked to the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us what to do. He gave us songs, tongues and interpretation, and words of prophecy - some for the nation, some for particular people in the room. As the meeting progressed it moved more towards teaching. The meeting was rich and there was far too much to report in detail, but here are some notes that I took of things that particularly stood out for me. Words in italics were from the Lord.

I will bring a great awakening in this land and I will honour my name through wonders. Depend on me for your sustenance, for food and for water.

I am the River of Life. It's not a question of how much I can provide, it's a question of how much you can receive.


Don't look to yourself, look to him. Our vision is on him all the time.

Stand still, be in the right position, the right place. We need to listen with our hearts (not just with our ears).

There was a word for Paul. You are carrying around something from the past. Only I (the Lord) can fix it.

Proclaim from the rooftops what I have shown you in the morning. If I give you words to speak, now is the time to speak them.


This encouraged me to share some words he'd given me a few days earlier.

There is dislocation in our lives and a constant war between the will and purpose of Christ in us and the will and purpose of the enemy against us. We see this in creation itself, a raging war at times, a tense stand-off at others. A beautiful sunset here, a sudden earthquake there. A song of love here, a starving child there. A kind thought here, a burst of anger there. Within us and around us is the constant conflict of two empires, the Kingdom of Light and the principality of darkness.

I felt that Father calls us to the Light every minute of every day. His Son is the Light, the Light shining in the darkness, Light among humankind, Light in the world. Every moment, in every situation, we can choose the Light or we can choose darkness. We can listen to Christ or we can listen to the enemy. Overall we have made our choice, we have chosen the King of Light, we have chosen life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet moment by moment we still fight those tactical skirmishes. They cannot change the outcome of the war - we belong to Christ! HalleluYah! But they may cause short-term retreat as individual actions are won or lost.

The Lord says, Don't despair, don't fight in your own strength but put on all the armour I have provided, be filled with the gifts of my Son's Spirit, and stand against darkness. Stand in the Light! Stand side by side and stand back to back, together you are strong, individually you are weak.

The door is open, take my hand and walk through. I will give you the desires of your heart because they are my desires too.


Someone mentioned Jeremiah 29:11, 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'. This was a promise to bring them back from captivity to the land that was promised to them. We too need to remember who the Lord is and admit that we need his help. We should not be discouraged by the forces ranged against us. We need to focus on Jesus, he will provide our strength and joy.

Acts was also quoted and the comment made that they were persecuted, they responded, and the result was amazing. Now is the time for us to prepare for persecution and hardship.

Someone said that as the church we have failed our country, we have failed the Lord, and we have failed ourselves. There has been an inertia, an unwillingness in the church. There was a tongue, part sung, part spoken. Both parts were interpreted, the sung part was interpreted in song which was amazing.

Here are fragments of the interpretations, there was a reminder that we are 'a chosen people, a holy nation... from 1 Peter 2.

The Lord has first loved us, we also love him. He has restored our sight, we can leave our foreskins behind. We can deal with rejection. Because he loves us we can also love him and be full of joy, both in the Lord and in others. We need to strip off the old things and can now put on his new clothes.

Peter Farmer also has brief notes about the meeting on the Mission Britain website.

Next Meeting
We have pencilled in a date for a meeting on 6th June, another Sunday afternoon. The format might be entirely different next time, perhaps a picnic, but the aim will be to have a meal together and an open meeting where everyone can contribute.

More details later, but meanwhile mark 6th June in your diary!

23 January 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT - Moggerhanger Meeting - 7th February 2010

Don't miss the
Moggerhanger Meeting!

SnowdropSunday 7th February, 2010. Open to everyone with an interest in organic expressions of church.

(This is the second notice and contains new additional information.)

  • What? - People are gathering from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire for a snowdrop walk, a shared meal, to hear some visiting speakers, and for an afternoon of meeting together with Jesus.

  • Where? - Moggerhanger Park near Bedford (full directions) MK44 3RW.

  • When? - Sunday 7th February 2010 at 13:30.

  • Cost? - No charge, but there will be an opportunity to donate to Moggerhanger Park.

Numbers - If you are planning to come and have not yet told us the numbers in your party, please make sure you get those details to us as soon as possible (at the latest by the end of Friday 5th February). This is necessary so we can provide the right amount of food.

Dietary needs - If people in your group are vegetarian, have food allergies or intolerances, or have other special requirements do let us know that too. Thanks.

Children's room - We plan to have space and some activities for children and may be able to help supervise, but if you are bringing children please be prepared to help if necessary by spending some time in the children's room yourself. You are welcome to keep children with you in the main meeting if you prefer. Older teenagers can help with the younger ones or join the main meeting.

Music - We have not made arrangements for music, but if you're a musician we encourage you to bring and use an instrument.

Programme - We expect this to be a flexible framework, it's important to be responsive to the Lord as we meet and we'll make changes if necessary as we go along.
  1. Arrive at Moggerhanger Park by 13:30, the gates will be open before that. Once inside the grounds turn first left towards the house and park at the front. If you're early feel free to explore the grounds.

  2. The snowdrop walk will begin from the front of the house at 13:30 (weather permitting). It's an easy stroll on reasonably firm woodland paths. You might need boots if it's been raining (wellingtons, walking boots, or a spare pair of old shoes that won't be spoiled by a little mud).

  3. We'll aim to eat at 14:00. Make your way through the front door of the house.

  4. From 14:45 - After lunch we plan to have three short presentations - no more than 15 minutes each. If you have an unfinished drink, bring it to the meeting room with you.
    1. Peter Farmer - Church Networks and Church Planting
    2. Chris Jefferies - Church of Two (CO2)
    3. Pete Stamford - X-treme Youth Camps
    4. Q and A session

  5. From 15:45 - A time for open prayer, praise, and body ministry

  6. 17:30 - Cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake

  7. Optional - There is no official end to the meeting. If anyone would like to stay on for more discussion, prayer etc after the tea/coffee that will certainly be possible. Some may need to get away quickly (if you have young children or a long journey, for example).

    For anyone interested in the house, the park, and the work that goes on there, it may be possible to organise an impromptu house tour. Please ask. The Moggerhanger Park website contains a lot of valuable information.
Looking forward to seeing you all on the day,

Grace, peace and joy,

Chris Jefferies
chris@scilla.org.uk


124 St Neots Road
Eaton Ford
St Neots
Cambs
PE19 7AL

03 January 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT - Moggerhanger Meeting - 7th February 2010

Hi everyone, here's a date for your diaries - 7th February 2010 for a regional gathering at Moggerhanger near Bedford. Come and join us for fun, a shared lunch, invited speakers, and more.

We plan to meet at 13:30 for a snowdrop walk in the woodlands at Moggerhanger Park Snowdropfollowed at 14:00 with a light but warming lunch in the old house. It will be something like jacket potatoes and a choice of fillings, more details nearer the time.

After lunch we have some invited guests who will share about events in a wider context. These will be short sessions of no more than 20 minutes each.
  • Peter Farmer from Nottingham has been invited to speak about organic church networks and church planting movements in the UK.
  • Someone from South-West England may be coming to tell us about church planting and growth in that region.
  • I will describe our experiences with the Church of Two (CO2) concept in and around St Neots.
  • We hope to hear about the work of X-treme Youth Camps in north-Bedfordshire. 
There will also be an open time for prayer, praise, and body ministry, as well as an opportunity for open discussion and a Q and A session with the invited guests.

There is no charge for attending, but to help with catering please let me know if you are coming, how many adults and children are in your party, and whether any of you have special dietary needs. There will be an opportunity to donate to the work of Moggerhanger Park if you wish to do so.

More details in mid January,

Grace, peace and joy to you all in the new year,

Chris Jefferies
chris@scilla.org.uk

124 St Neots Road

Eaton Ford
St Neots
Cambs
PE19 7AL

10 September 2009

Finishing up the H2H Conference

Well, I never did manage to make any more notes on the conference sessions. There just wasn't time for that. So this final post, days after the conference finished, is just to give you some final thoughts and impressions.

I'm writing this in Florida, sitting in the dining room of a friend's house, A session at the House2House Conference, 2009a far more homely and enjoyable experience than the Grand Hyatt in Dallas. Not that I'm complaining, the hotel was comfortable and the company was good.

I wouldn't have missed the conference for the world. As well as the general sessions which were all good, I chose the 'Marketplace' track. This was run by Robert Ricciardelli who presented, facilitated, and encouraged everyone to contribute. In the final session of this track we became church in the fullest sense, sharing life in Christ together with one another. How is this possible? Only through his grace and favour poured out on us as we express his life to one another. He can build us together in just a few minutes, whenever he chooses, with people we hardly know. That in itself was a valuable take-home message, one I'll always remember!

The overall impressions I have are that the House2House Conference 2009 was a time of growth and advancement for us all, a time to make new friends and contacts, and a time to hear the Spirit calling us on to new revelation and fresh insights.

There was a lot of fun and excitement and plenty of encouragement. There were new ideas to ponder and challenges for the future. Now I'm looking forward to the 2010 Conference!

04 September 2009

H2H Conf General Session 1

After a warm welcome and our evening meal, the conference got underway with praise and worship, a time to open ourselves in small groups, and addresses by first Felicity and then Tony Dale.

John White demonstrated the SASHET technique for us and led us into using it in small groups. For a short time the conference was transformed into dozens of small churches of three, four or five. SASHET involves talking about our current heart feelings under the headings Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, and Tender. It was a quick way of moving to a place of understanding one another better and beginning to feel ourselves to be a team, a unit, a church!

Felicity Dale opened the proceedings by sharing with us how she recently became an American citizen, and how the ceremony had been solemn, emotional, and exciting - all at the same time. Some of the people going through this step with her were from backgrounds of severe repression and for them it was a step into freedom and democracy.

She then talked about how she had also once been accepted as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and how Jesus himself had stood in her place to make that possible. We have been adopted as members of the royal family, we have access to the King even in his throneroom.

Felicity reminded us that the world sees Jesus through his people. If we are not representing his love and grace and favour to the world, how will they ever be able to see him?

Tony Dale told us that when we wake up in the morning, we wake up at war. He spoke about the kingdoms of darkness and of light that are both involved in our daily lives. If we do not focus on the things of the Kingdom of Light, darkness is already ready and eager to fill the void.

James wrote that the wisdom from below is first natural, then unspiritual, then demonic. There is a sequence here. The wisdom of this world will move in on anything we have built once the wisdom of heaven is not active within it. We may create something good, but if spiritual leadership is removed it soon becomes a merely natural effort. And in time it has the potential to take the next step and become demonic.

We need to guard our hearts. We are not to criticise one another and pull one another apart. Tony went on to look at the ways mega church and house church can help, encourage, and guide one another. How much better to do that than to judge one another. There is only one church! Large or small, there should never be so much structure that the Holy Spirit is no longer necessary.

Finally Tony showed us some examples of the way we can do practical things to help one another, mentioning in particular, Samaritan Minitries, a medical scheme that really works.

H2H Pre-Conf 4 - Mega/micro co-operation

This was a fascinating presentation by a group of mega-church members who, in a variety of ways, have been working with house churches. Northland (Orlando), Apex Community Church (Dayton), and Austin Stone (Austin) were represented.

Stew explained how Austin Stone has been planting house churches amongst the Turkish and Muslim communities in Austin. Now 100 of these are going on to Turkey to continue the process there. This is a situation where traditional, Western-style church could not have succeeded as it would not have been acceptable to the culture. They are also working amongst students on the University of Texas campus, and amongst the homeless poor and seeing real transformation.

Chris Cardiff from Apex in Dayton has been focusing on getting members to do far more than just turn up on a Sunday. 50% to 60% of their people are now meeting in house churches. (This sounded to me very like the cell-church model.)

Rennes, also from Apex, explained that they are trying hard to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. Jesus is the head. It's about relationship, we are in relationship with the Spirit (who is the Spirit of Christ). We are all led differently but by the one Spirit!

Craig addressed the topic of healing. We sometimes get injured in church and big church is more anonymous so that we can remain hidden in our pain. Jesus healed people, and sometime people may need to move from mega to micro or vice versa to aid that healing.

Dan from Northland spoke about resourcing the small. He made everyone laugh with his unforgettable remark that 'rabbits have teeth, please don't bite the elephant'! We need to reconnect and work together even if we have differences.

They have a goal of facilitating a million house churches. They are putting useful children's ministry material online free of charge, making it available for all to use and adapt. They have the resources to do this and feel it is a useful contribution.

They also run about 30 cross-cultural mission trips annually and invite anyone to join these teams. Their worship webcasts to Seminole Prison are another move of this kind. They want to connect to house churches to facilitate further networking efforts. And with Global Media Outreach (GMO) which involves Campus Crusade they invite house church volunteers to become daily prayer and email partners to help a new believer in, say, Algeria get stated with simple forms of church.

Dan mentioned that we need grace towards one another, we need to accept that all of us are doing what we believe the Spirit is telling us to do.

We broke into small groups to consider our presuppositions and ask whether any of them prevents us from pursuing unity. And leading on from that, to consider possible ways of pursuing unity.

H2H Pre-Conf 3 - Regional network development

Neil Cole spoke about this topic. He has asked himself the question, 'What kind of leadership will enable movements to develop?' He understood that multiplication requires simplification and this will be covered in detail in a new book not yet released, 'Church 3.0'. He mentioned 'Church Multiplication Associates' (CMA).

Then he covered some maths! He pointed out maths involves addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. The church does all four of these things

We'd really like to multiply but often we only add. We're really good at subtraction, taking people from an existing group to add them to our own) and we're also pretty good at division (we are easily offended).

How can we handle big numbers of new believers? Ten or a hundred we can manage, but how would we cope with a million? The church needs to be self-perpetuating and self-propagating. It begins witth transformed disciples and ends with transformed churches and even movements. The Bible never tells us to plant churches, it tells us to make disciples. Jesus himself will build his church.

Chain networks and hub networks are the two kinds that we are concerned with, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Neil doesn't say that one is right and the other wrong, just that they are different. Chains can reproduce fast and have a global impact.

He also spoke about the different kinds of groups that work in the church (and in other aspects of human society). Groups of 2 or 3 are the best for intimacy and real, depp friendship. 12 to 15 are typical of family groups and house churches. They bring in more diversity. 25 to 75 are good for training, for mission, and for regional leadership equipping. 120 - 150 (12 to 15 small churches) are really the relational maximum that a person can deal with, a simple church network is a good example of this. 300 to 500 is good for a conference or some kind of special gathering. And the multitude is impersonal but can be good for teaching content and for healing.

Larger groups can be composed of groupings of the smaller units. Jesus used groups of all these sizes, each where appropriate.

Groups of 4 to 7 also appear and are a good size for leadership (think in terms of the five-fold ministry - apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, evangelist)

Neil suggests we start building groups of two or three and then let these assemble into the larger entities.

H2H Pre-Conf 2 - Tools for meeting

John, Tod and Kent are part of the small team that manages the LK10 community of practice website.

Tod began by describing SASHET (Sad Angry Scared Happy Excited Tender). Originally designed as a method of therapy, Tod and others have adopted the principles to form a simple technique, easily learned and easily passed on. It helps a small group of people communicate to one another how they feel and can open up a deeper discussion once they understand one another from going through the SASHET exercise.

We tried this out by dividing into groups of four, and listened as each one spoke about any of these feelings in their hearts right now. We found it brought us together and helped team building. Some people found it cleared the decks in the sense that once these things have been aired, it becomes possible to set them on one side and move forward. It helped us accept one another as we truly are, one person summed it up by saying, 'It helps us be human beings rather than human doings'.

John White pointed out that in Matthew 10 the disciples are listed, not singly but in pairs. It's easy not to notice this. He also later sent them out in pairs. So it seems Jesus has a 'church of twelve' around him, but the group was made up of a collection of 'churches of two' (CO2).

There are considerable advantages to groups of two and they are noted in the Bible. Two are better than one, we stand together. Two is also the smallest possible expression of church. With two we can encourage one another.

Kent described how this can work in practice and pointed out that a CO2 can be a husband and wife, two friends, parent and child. And it's not exclusive. In other words a person can be in more than one CO2 at any particular point in time. It works best if there's an intention to share together daily, even if it's just by phone. A larger group, a house church for example, cannot hope to meet daily.

03 September 2009

H2H Pre-Conf 1 - Tribes and leadership

The first session of this year's House2House Pre-Conference was interesting and raised a lot of questions. It was led by Tony Dale and he began by demonstrating with a show of hands that perhaps 10 or 15 percent of those in the room were from megachurch or medium size church organisations, with one or two in mission work and the remainder house church people.

We watched Seth Godin's video from the TED Conference, you can view it yourself below.



The pre-reading for the House2House network leaders meeting was Seth Godin's book 'Tribes' in which he goes into much more detail.

With this to set the scene, Tony led us through a series of thoughts based on Seth's analysis of what a leader does. He referred to Romans 15:18-21, Paul felt what Seth describes as 'I can't stand the status quo'.

Here are one or two of the key thoughts.

We need to be heretics. Jesus was a heretic. He had a lot of trouble with the establishment of his day. We change things by telling a new story, people are waiting for something new, we need to connect people who share the same vision. Jesus did all these things.

Here are some quotes from Seth's book.
  • Heretics are the new leaders, they get out in front of their tribes.
  • It's more fun to make the rules than to follow them!
  • It's profitable, powerful, and productive to make change.
  • Managers make widgets, leaders make change.
  • Great leaders embrace deviants by catching them doing something right.
  • Growth doesn't come from persuading the most loyal members of other tribes.
  • Tearing others down is never as helpful to your movement as building your members up.
We then did a number of exercises in small groups, testing some ideas out and commenting on them. Why wouldn't we do things the way Jesus did them? Should we focus on the masses or on the ones who stick out as different?

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