Oh man, where to begin?
Last week I went to the New Wine National Gathering in Shepton Mallet. While I didn’t pack my week with seminar after seminar (in fact, apart from the morning and evening celebrations, I only went to two) I learned so much and came away hugely inspired. I’m only just beginning to process it all now.
The National Gathering is the main summer celebration of the New Wine organisation. I’d never been before but lots of people from our church had booked and so we decided to make it our annual holiday and join them. I sort of knew what to expect, having spoken to friends who’d attended before, but nothing really prepared me for just how incredible an experience it really was.
A whole week focused just on our Heavenly Father and learning together how he wants to impact our lives. And then, in turn, how he wants to impact the world around each of us. It was a varied and exciting week and a lot of fun, to boot.
I spent most of my week in the Impact venue for morning and evening worship. It’s the medium-sized one of the three main venues, seating about 1,200 and the lively, vibrant and innovative services really energised me. In general, the focus was on people reaching out into our urban and inner city communities and, as my heart is for workplace ministry, it kind of clicked with the overall message.
A range of great speakers addressed the congregation on different topics. I couldn’t possibly give a rundown of them all, or really single one out above the others, but through them, God spoke to me consistently in three ways:
- A greatly increased knowledge of Jesus’ presence with me (through everything, no matter what) and his great love for me. My own love for him has grown too and just those things alone would have been worth the whole week.
- The reassurance that I am in the place in the world that God wants me in right now. That I need to consecrate myself, to commit myself to that task every day. To accept that nothing is perfect and the downsides of each situation are just a part of the story. And then to get on with the work of bringing his Kingdom here!
- That no one’s mission or ministry is any more valid or important than anyone else’s. It’s easy to compare one’s own current, humble calling with some of the amazing and exciting things that God has called the speakers to do. But God’s presence is needed as much in the places he has put each of us as it is in the world’s poorest inner cities and slums. For me that’s about focusing this season of my life on bringing Christ’s presence here into the workplace, and to the people in the estates around our church in Hinckley.
Because of these three messages, I’ve come away with a much stronger assurance that I am exactly where God wants me to be. That it is here that he wants me to establish and grow a ministry. And so, bit by bit, day by day, that’s what I’m going to do. Writing the story Jesus has given me wherever I find myself, such that it impacts the lives of those around me.
I have many abiding memories from the week, but chief among them are:
- How camping goes from the best thing ever, to a terrible idea with just a change in the weather
- The horror of losing my youngest daughter’s special stuffed rabbit and the awful prospect of coming home without it
- The joy of finding (after being lost for three days) the aforementioned rabbit
- The simple pleasure of a cup of coffee with a loved one
- That I am addicted to Bibles (OK I knew that already) but I definitely needed the new one I bought
- The privilege of being able to pray for many people during times of ministry
- That I am terrible at the “Bible Verse or Lord of the Rings” game!
- That wherever there is a three-pin socket, lo a group of teenagers will be crammed around it desperately charging smartphones
God is good and New Wine 2016 was awesome! I can’t wait to book up for next year but in the meantime, I’m taking the inspiration and getting out into the world bring his Kingdom here.