Breakfast in Brighton
I have just had breakfast at the Brighton Conference Centre! This is the venue on Brighton seafront for many political party conferences and prestigious pop-concerts, but this week the gathering place for over 2000 church leaders and 1500 students and twenties from around the world. Each morning the Management Team meets for breakfast to review the previous day and fine-tune the new one.
Under the title Together on a Mission (TOAM) – which describes the purpose of this Newfrontiers gathering – the week combines two conferences. One, Leadership, is to equip and envision church leaders in the fulfilment of their local and our corporate vision. The other, Mobilise, is to equip the next generation of leaders and church planters. Sometimes the two conferences meet separately and at others they combine. Leaders set an example of leadership faith while the Mobilise participants expose leaders to vitality and their massive global potential.
A conference is only a vehicle, a means of reaching a goal, and a vehicle needs oil to ensure it runs smoothly. But at all times we must remember that the purpose of the vehicle is to reach a destination. The vehicle, or worse still the oil, becomes the centre of attention only if it is not running smoothly, or the engine seizes and judders to a halt.
So what is the goal?
To meet with God, to worship Him and to receive whatever he has for us. On Day 1 that included inspiring worship, an insight into God’s heart for the nations and an understanding that He wants us to be people of both the Word and the Spirit. Hundreds responded to a sense of call to large cities and many others were baptised in the Holy Spirit.
The role of Administration
Where does administration fit into this picture? Like the oil, it should not attract any attention. Its role is to make the conference run smoothly so that people are not distracted from the main purpose – to encounter God. Indeed, I tell my team that if people notice the administration we have failed.
So what form does our breakfast review take? It is relational, encouraging one another and reviewing the blessing of the previous day. We also consider the coming day and discuss anything that needs attention, before closing by praying together. The sorts of topic we consider are best summed up with some illustrative questions, not that we formally ask these:
• Is there anything that hinders free worship such as distortion on the PA system?
• Is it easy for people to bring prophetic contributions?
• Are the translators well cared for (simultaneous translation is available into several languages)?
• Are those who are deaf appropriately provided for e.g. adequate light levels to help them see the signers?
• Are people welcomed and easily able to find seats?
• Are there sufficient people to serve on the Information Desk in order to avoid long queues?
• Does the team of intercessors who support the conference have good information about what is happening and know how to focus their praying?
• Is there a regular update posted on the internet so that non-attenders can be kept in touch?
Come and join us
These are just samples of the topics considered. On some future occasion I shall consider some of the mechanics of running a large conference but for now I just want you to know that you would be welcome to join us and I have the confident expectation that you would encounter God – provided we continue to apply the oil!
See you at the Brighton Conference Centre, but hurry! The Conference ends on Friday 10th at lunchtime.