Here are a few of my highlights from Cape Town 2010, I could write loads on this, but here’s six to get me started:
I belong to a global church
To sit in a room with over 4,000 church leaders from nearly 200 countries teaches you quickly about the global church. In my small group we had people from Serbia, the Honduras, the USA, and Canada. In tables around me were people from literally all over the world. When people spoke or prayed you could hear loads of languages being used, it was all very inspiring. The theme of a global church was, where possible, reinforced from the front, with a wide number of countries providing preachers, presenters and plenary leaders.
Worship from the global church
Having spent much of the week singing traditional hymns and Graham Kendrick songs I’m surprised to be sharing this as one of my highlights but it really was – I’m not sure how I’ll adapt back to worship at church tomorrow. The band and musicians was led by people from South Africa, and then augmented with people from many different countries covering nearly all the continents. Singing familiar songs in five or six languages was great. As I wrote on the last night, if that worship was a glimpse of heaven than heaven will truly be awesome!
Great times of networking and friendships
Throughout the conference it was great to meet people and make new connections and friendships. Again these connections were so global – be it people that I met at Table Group Leader Training, or in my Table Group, at the Young Leader Forum and just around the conference. I’ll look forward to emailing/phoning/skyping many of these people over the next month. One of the real highlights for me was the friendships I’ve started or continued to grow with some of the UK delegation, and the potential for new partnerships in ministry that may in turn support our mission of enabling young people in Tonbridge to have life changing encounters with Jesus.
Reminded of the urgency and importance of the gospel
In the West we seem to have forgotten the urgency of the gospel (in its broadest sense) people need hope now. A youth minister from Germany shared how they’re doing an evangelistic project called House which is literally reaching 1,000s of young people with the gospel through one-off evenings around the country. Whilst I’m not convinced that their model would work in the UK, I was challenged by the need to find new creative ways to proclaim the gospel and to do so urgently, for example, around the world, 25% of people coming to faith do so through media on mobile phones – how is our local church supporting that kind of ministry?
The need of the world is huge. In the local estate on which our church is placed it’s estimated that nearly 500 young people don’t have a relationship with Jesus, that’s my mission field. The mission field of the world includes 2 billion children, millions of people who can’t access scripture in their langauge and so on – it is huge – it’s the kind of thing that only God can help us to resolve – we need to trust in Him more in our evangelism.
Challenged to a long-term ministry
The world of youth ministry is full of people changing jobs every few years either looking for the next promotion or because their church employed them on a short-term contract and simply won’t resource or back long-term ministry. In contrast one of the main things young people want is consistent love – they don’t want to have to form new relationships every few years. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for young people to expect that in the seven years they’re in our youth ministry that they will have one senior leader. Lindsey’s closing address reminded me of the need to remember we’re called to serve long-term in places that can be frustrating, possibly to emphasise this I’ve come back to two large challenges which have really frustrated and challenged me on this. This is something I want to unpack with others around me to look at how I can be long-term.
If you were there, what were your highlights?