I'm back at High Leigh conference centre this week for the On Fire conference which is a charismatic catholic renewal event. It's an intriguing mix of modern worship songs and traditional catholic worship which sounds just my cup of tea in many ways but I'm not used to having the two together so it was a little disconcerting at first but it is beginning to settle with me.
Russ Parker spoke this morning in the main conference hall where only a coupl of months ago I was listening to Tony Campolo and Russ talked Philippians 3 (a favourite of mine I must say) emphasising Christianity as being TOUGH... "It's not a glamour shoot" you don't become a Christian, get a promotion and a pay rise... All great stuff but SPOOKILY similar to some of the things Tony Campolo said on that VERY spot only a few weeks ago! His mannerisms were similar too so I was nearly as spooked as I was by the Tim Sudworth lookalike I spotted the first night of the conference!!!
He also spoke about the need for people to be in love with Christ and not "people in love with eventfulness - it's not the same thing!"
Russ also had some fantastic things to say this afternoon about the ability to HEAL the effects of the history of places, people and communities. He was talking primarily about the power of listening and again echoed something that Tony Campolo said at the Matrix youth conference. Russ proposed that:
"if we can listen with the ears of Christ we might just get 'the words that will sustain the weary'"
He also had a painfully accurate challenge to those in a preaching/teaching ministry... "What makes you think that people have heard the Gospel just because you've preached it to them?" He was talking about this in reference to the cultural background of people and our need as ministers to listen to histories. It reminded me of some of the things Antony Reddie covered when I visited the Methodist training session. Parker put it in a rather more metaphoric way though which I rather liked. When we preach, "it's got to pass through the window of their personal story" on which they will make their own conclusions.
I'm still distilling a lot of this but it is all resonating with Bob Mayo's take on a narrative model of youth ministry and I really feel that I am crystallising my own model of ministry more and more. Paradoxically though, that crystallisation is of a model of ministry which is itself fluid. I have a strong sense of that need to "flow" in my ministry, to be caught up in what God is wanting me to do rather than drive my own path through not simply in the general direction of my vocation but also in the minutiae of the daily ministry and it really is a liberating experience.