Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TOAM: Round Up

I know this has taken me a while to get to, but believe it or not, I have actually been thinking about this one. Last December I wrote a post about the weaknesses (as I saw them) of my family of churches, Newfrontiers. One of my comments was,
"Our conferences are a bit dull. I don't mean boring, I mean the opposite of cutting edge. Dull not sharp. I'm probably in the minority on this one. The worship is great and some of the talks are excellent. But some of the seminars seem to be the same every year and tell us what we already know rather than stretch us in new ways."
Well, recently our latest and biggest conference of the year finished. Has anything changed? No, not really. I think I'd hold to that comment, which is a bit disappointing. Here are my reasons:

I predicted beforehand that we'd have main sessions based on old testament characters related to our themes and values, and guess what - we did. That our flagship conference should be so predictable by someone who has only been 3 times (I think) is a bit, well, lame. We even got Jonathan's armour bearer for the third time!

For a movement that places great store by expository preaching I'm not sure I heard any. I certainly don't think I gained any fresh insights into Scripture here.

Most people I talked to also struggled to choose a seminar stream - I'd like to have the 'agony' of choosing between several equally exciting options (like being in a great restaurant and selecting a dish) rather than reading the list and thinking there's really only one option for me here. But then it could be me, if I picked the seminars - possibly no one would want to go to any of them.

Worship - great
Giving - fantastic
Fellowship - wonderful
Seminars - good
Main sessions talks - OK

Here's my heart, I want to be stretched. I want the scriptures opened up to me so I meet Jesus in a whole new way, I want revelation from the Word, I want seminars that are cutting edge dealing with the big issues of our day and seeing what a biblical response looks like. I want to be exposed to new ideas, concepts, practices. Most of all if I guess again about the main talks I want to be wrong, if I try and guess what seminars they'll offer me, I want to be wrong. I want to look forward to TOAM 2010 with real excitement.

My complete list of posts on TOAM here

Here are some others thoughts on the conference
The talks and seminars are available here


dave bish on 28 July 2009 at 19:55 said...

"For a movement that places great store by expository preaching I'm not sure I heard any. I certainly don't think I gained any fresh insights into Scripture here."

...the last stellar Bible stuff at TOAM I remember was CJ Mahaney on 1 Tim 2 (at Mobilise) and Mark 14 and 15 in the main venue in 2005. Breathtaking. Some good ones since then, but I agree it was a bit samey.

Phil on 29 July 2009 at 11:15 said...

Do you think we actually heard expository preaching though? What we got was inspirational value/vision talks drawn from a OT story

dave bish on 29 July 2009 at 14:56 said...

Mostly inspirational stuff. There was good content from David Stroud and from Joel Virgo but not really exposition... I wonder if we're "assuming" what could be exposited and jump to applications because it's all leaders...

With the armour bearer it's interesting - Richard Cunningham (UCCF Director) was at Brighton when David Stroud preached that last year and then preached it himself at the start of our Forum 2009 conference, which was a more expository version that still inspired and motivated mission.

On Daniel 1, it seemed to me that Stephen Van Rhyn did a better exposition of it the other year, but we do seem to love our inspirational character passages...

I just weep that we're not diving into other parts of the Scriptures, NT and OT, and letting God set our agenda from the pages of his word. I know its a leadership/church-planters conference but some more exposition would serve that more than hinder it.

Peter on 6 August 2009 at 12:49 said...

I would have to agree on the seminars as well (I was at mobilise). Pretty much exactly the same list of topics as last year, and although the two I went to were really very good, none of the topics really caught my attention, I just picked the two that I figured would be practically useful.

Not that practical seminars is bad, it's just that there wasn't anything else.

It also made a big difference that there were no "outsiders" this year, the two other years I've gone the guests have brought by far the most engaging material to the stage.

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