It has been an amazing week. Last Sunday I hot footed it from our morning services at ABC to Heathrow to join up with friends from Finchampstead Baptist Church to catch a flight to Atlanta in the US. The main purpose of our trip was to attend the Drive conference hosted by North Point Community Church but it has also been a great chance to meet up with the other churches in the new UK network we are launching and to join with other church leaders from around the world. Together we share a passion for creating churches that unchurched people love to attend and it has been an inspiring and stimulating week.
On Tuesday we had a meeting with the other UK Network churches talking through the next steps in our vision to help other churches in the UK be more effective in reaching out to their communities. On Tuesday evening we hosted several of our friends from North Point for a dinner. There were loads of us and it was so great to meet up with old friends and to share stories of what God is doing in our churches.
Then on Wednesday the conference began and what an amazing time we had. Great worship, loads of fun and some great teaching. We had four main sessions in which Andy Stanley spoke reminding us about the importance of what God is calling us to. We shared communion together and were challenged by the big question “what is the faith of the next generation worth to us?” We also had four breakout sessions. I attended one on multi site strategies, another on how to develop small group leaders, another on using digital platforms to engage with people and finally one on developing a healthy staff team.
On Thursday evening and Friday we met up with other churches from around the world and swapped stories and lessons from what God is doing in our contexts. We also got to play some Top Golf together! It was so exciting to meet amazing people from Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ireland and South Africa including two men leading a church in Durban where my daughter Emily is currently living. They knew the project she is working on really well. I also met a church leader in France who knows the Judkins family (members of our church who are currently working in France) and who once slept on the floor of our church building (small world)!
Today (Saturday) we are having another meeting before we head out for some shopping and to visit the old town of Roswell where we are staying. Tomorrow we will be going to two services at different North Point locations before catching a late flight back home.
It has been a fantastic trip and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have come. I have laughed until I cried, cried some more painful tears, met some amazing people, been challenged and inspired, motivated and encouraged. I have learnt a whole load of new things, been reminded of some things I already knew but needed to hear again, written a ton of notes and got some things to really think about. I have eaten some great food (and probably put on a load of weight!) and more importantly had some wonderful conversations. I have been reminded of how amazing our God is and how he is at work across the globe.
I can’t wait to be back and to see my family and everyone at ABC again.
God bless Chris