I thought I would publish here the article I wrote for the final on-site newspaper for New Word Alive: For me one of the key things about New Word Alive is the opportunity it gives us to demonstrate our unity. There are probably speakers and worship leaders here who you haven’t heard of because they come from a different stream, which is certainly true for me. This overlapping of gospel-loving streams is really important. But it’s definitely not just about what happens on stage and in the meetings. For me personally, one of the real blessings of this event is the relationships that begin here. This year, for example, it has been fantastic to renew my friendship with Sam Allberry, who I met for the first time last year. I would never have met Sam apart from New Word Alive. He is an Anglican minister, and yet we have found we have so much in common. For a start we share a love for The West Wing. Sam even calls his blog “Shibboleth” in a direct reference to that king of TV dramas (see http://stallberry.wordpress.com). Just sitting and chatting with him about the gospel has certainly filled me with a renewed sense of a brotherhood that goes beyond denominational boundaries. Sam and I also have a shared experience of each having published a book on the same subject. Though we had yet to meet each other, we both, at the same time, developed the same sense that the church has a tendency to neglect the resurrection and, as a result, felt prompted to write to redress that balance. Both of our books are available together at a discount in the on-site bookstore (and at http://10ofthose.com.
For me then, a big part of New Word Alive has been connecting with like-minded Christians so that we can be a mutual encouragement to each other. Don’t miss the opportunities God might be sending across your path this week to make a similar relationship with another believer who may come from a very different church to yours, but shares your love for Jesus and God’s Word.
It is so important that this unity we are demonstrating on-site continues throughout the rest of the year. If you are a student in a Christian Union, reach out and befriend other students who attend very different churches to you. If you lead a church, seek friendships with other ministers local to you who might think differently on some things, but share a love for the core of the gospel. To see people worshiping together from the Anglicans, Baptists, FIEC, Newfrontiers, Soul Survivor, and other groups has been truly inspiring. It really is all about Jesus.
If a year feels too long to wait to be back at an event like this, why not attend one of the many other conferences that are springing up with a similar goal of unity? We can learn so much from others who hold the core essentials of the gospel in high regard, while with genuine respect for each other we acknowledge that there are areas we may disagree on. Examples of these events would include the Proclamation Trust’s Evangelical Ministers Assembly, which this year will focus on different perspectives of how the Holy Spirit helps us (see http://www.proctrust.org.uk/), Keswick (see http://keswick.org ), as well as conferences held by denominations and families of churches such as Newfrontiers, which are definitely open to visitors from other groups.
Finally, just this week a new leadership event on May 15th with American pastor, Matt Chandler, was announced (see http://jubilee-church.org/threehundred).
Why not also pick up some recordings of New Word Alive sessions you were not able to attend, or which particularly helped you? There are also many websites online which have useful resources. Many of you run your own blogs or post materials on a church site. If you come across something after the event that you think would help all of us, please pop over to my blog to find my email address and let me know. I will endeavor to link to as many useful resources as I can over the year, and look forward, God willing, to seeing many of you again in 2011.