A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Glory in the Nations
From the 18 – 21 June in Stoke-on-Trent (and why not!) I joined Methodists from the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hungary, Pakistan, America, Singapore, Slovakia, Cambodia and Myanmar at what for me was possibly one of the most impacting Methodist conferences I have attended. But don’t just take my word for it…
I decided quite early on that if I was going to give an honest report on this conference I needed to get feedback directly from the delegates themselves, so here is just a sample:
The conference was a wonderful time of impartation:
~**Greater love and passion for Jesus*~~*Wider vision*~~*Encouragement to more personal prayer*~~*Encouragement to more corporate prayer*~~*Greater expectation*~~*Intimacy with Jesus’**~
‘This has been the most amazing conference. I arrived wondering if I had a future in Methodism. I leave excited with what could be. I will take back some of this to my Circuit - by contagion’.
‘I came to this conference feeling very dry and weary. I have been refreshed and renewed by the glorious presence of the living God. Thank you God, and thank you to the conference leadership’.
‘I came to the prayer conference feeling dry and wondering why I was here only to discover that which was lost - my first love. I have been so caught up in ministry that I had forgotten the source of life, Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. My experience was God throwing me into the River of Life, not once, not twice but repeatedly. My prayer is that I take back with me that which I rediscovered’.
‘At the heart of this conference was the cry of God’s heart, calling his people (and especially church leaders) to come into his presence, to seek his face in worshipping Him. He longs to meet us in intimacy; to embrace, to kiss…it is physical! Romans 12:1-2 says God wants our bodies!’
‘We can smell rain but the only way the rain is going to come is if we’re willing to suffer for it.
~**As Christians are we willing to pray without ceasing?*~~*Are we willing to be ridiculed by our loved ones?*~~*Are we willing to go without financial stability?*~~*Are we willing to be alone for Christ?**~
It is when we take up our crosses, when we put our ‘Isaacs’ on the altar, that we will see God’s glory appear to the nations. My prayer is that we will be prepared to give our lives for his rain’.
Hopefully you will see from these few comments (and there were plenty more) what an important and significant conference this was. The over riding theme was ‘The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory’ and each speaker did the theme tremendous credit. Let me also pick out some of the choicest quotes from some of the speakers.
~q‘At the head of every agenda we should write “What is the Spirit saying to the church?”’ (The Rev Tom Stuckey, President of the Methodist Conference 2005/6)q~
~q‘We’re the people we’ve been waiting for’ (Lloyd Cook, Saltbox)q~
Arnold Mwange from Uganda spoke about the story of Ruth and reminded us that she and Naomi were blessed in the land of famine rather than the land of plenty. The future of the nations is in the hands of the church, not the government. When we sense the tide has changed, then get ready to change and go where God is leading. Be prepared to go where we’ve never been before, so we learn to trust God and be obedient.
~q‘Stop trying to get more people into the church and start by getting more of God into the church’ (Terry Tekyl, Director of World Prayer Team)q~
~q‘Like the spirit of Elijah there is a Wesley spirit coming back to this land’ (Martin Scott, Sowing Seeds of Revival)q~
~q‘Some of the old wineskins are too old to contain the new things that God is wanting to do’ (Jane Holloway, World Prayer Centre)q~
~q‘We have a tendency to put God in a box and tell Him he can’t come out until Christmas or Easter’ (Yaqub Masih, Christ for Pakistan Ministries)q~
There was so much more. For me it was a time of affirmation and intimacy. The conference leaders were able to go where Holy Spirit led us and they weren’t tied to timetables. Linda Holt on speaking about ‘The Glory’ spoke for only ten minutes before saying ‘God says let’s stop talking about his glory; let’s experience it’, and we did...time and time again.
I’m sure many Methodist congregations have been blessed as their church leaders have returned renewed with fresh vision and a deep desire to take their congregations on a journey of a lifetime. This was indeed what it claimed to be, a ‘significant global opportunity to seek God for the future of the Methodist Church’.