10 Things I Like About Advance* image

10 Things I Like About Advance*

I spent last week at the Advance Global Conference. I’ve been to a lot of conferences in my time, but this was one of the best. Here, in no particular order, are ten observations about the week:

1. Being both charismatic and reformed is fantastic
Andrew was with us for a day and spoke to this theme, and it’s true – the lived experience of spiritual gifts combined with the solid assurance of faith that means I don’t have to rely on me is wonderful.

2. England is at its best in June
Warm sun, trees in full-flush, croquet on the lawn (America vs South Africa vs Singapore vs UK) and long, long evenings. It doesn’t get better than that.

3. Church planting is hard work
Everyone involved in church planting said this. It is a universal given. But at the same time church planting is exciting and Christ honouring. Whether in Nairobi, the Rhondda Valley, London or Los Angeles, church planting requires grit and determination, but through it new communities are reached with the gospel, and new communities of God’s people formed.

4. Being connected by friendship makes sense
‘Working relationally’ can sound fluffy and vague, but partnering together because of connected hearts rather than position on an organisational chart or denominational strategy makes complete sense when you experience it. Friends will go much further for one another than people who are with you because of a denominational structure.

5. Partnering internationally is fun
Working with others from many different nations brings a richness to ministry that would otherwise be lacking. Different contexts and experiences help all of us see more of what God is doing across the earth, and give a glimpse of how things will be when people from every tribe and tongue will be gathered in worship before Jesus.

6. Worship is joy
It’s too easy to get into a church rut, whereby worship is reduced to singing, and singing is something we simply do as part of a service. Full-voiced, full-bodied, full-fat delighting in God is very different.

7. God provides
Starting and strengthening churches requires resources. Humanly speaking those resources may look unobtainable, but God is not short of resources and he is well able to supply them to and through his people.

8. It is difficult paying for things when Americans are about
Americans are generous people. When I’ve been to the US I’ve found it incredibly difficult to pay for anything as it’s always, “You are our guest.” When Americans visit the UK, I expect to respond in kind, but it’s always a fight. I managed to pretty much hold the line until Sunday evening when Donnie Griggs outflanked me.

9. Big matters, but so does small
We spent time talking about and praying for big cities, and we spent time talking about and praying for small towns. The combination was enriching and mutually helpful. Jesus loves people, wherever they live.

10. Faith is contagious
It’s not possible to live off another person’s faith, but we are able to stir faith in one another. It is by faith that we carry out the great commission and the great command. Global fed faith for that.

*Other movements are available.

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