Newfrontiers Checks Out image

Newfrontiers Checks Out

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I have just returned from the Newfrontiers Global Conference in a secret Middle Eastern location, where apostles and their teams from all around the world gathered to pray, worship and learn together. A few programming problems aside (they left me off the speaker list – again!) it was a fine conference, and a great opportunity to see the many ways in which the movement has continued to grow.

In many ways it felt very familiar. There were recognisable faces, a real sense of unity, and similarity in vision and values. But there was one major difference. An elephant in the room. A subtle but shocking shift which, if not nipped in the bud, may cause an irreparable schism in Newfrontiers…

What has happened to the uniform?

It used to be the case that “by this shall all men know that you are a Newfrontiers disciple: that you wear checked shirts.” But no more. Plaid is a thing of the past. No longer would one attend a Newfrontiers gathering and be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled across a lumberjack convention.

It only took four years, but it seems that people have finally taken my advice on how to look good in the pulpit!

There was everything from solid coloured shirts, polo shirts, t-shirts, shirts with stripes of various widths and orientations, chevrons, geometric patterns, and even the odd floral design. Andrew somehow forgot to pack his ‘all things to all men’ shirt – a new approach to fashion that thankfully hasn’t caught on outside of the backwaters of Eastbourne. And I was relieved to only spot one man bun. Though that’s one bun too many.

Depending on your perspective, this diversification either spells the beginning of a bright new era for the-movement-formerly-known-as-Newfrontiers, or a step towards its demise.

For the progressives, this new liberty in dress-sense no doubt functions as a symbol of the spheres having gone their own way, found freedom, and gathered again, joined by relationships, not law.

For the traditionalists, this is another step down the slippery slope towards a Reductio ad Abspherdom. Assimilation to the culture. Wearing the clothing of the world, rather than the clothing of Christ. If a shirt loses its checkiness, it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot!

I suppose only time will tell whether this new wardrobe is something to be celebrated or a sign that the end is near. But I’m sure all will become clear when the apostles hit the catwalk this time next year at Global 2017.

Your faithful fashion correspondent,

+S.S.S.+

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