Church Planting Conference — Unity in Christ
Yesterday, I attended a church planting conference here in London. Probably around 120 people attended. We listened to some good talks and presentations. The music was excellent! It was a delight to catch up with friends from different parts of the country engaged in gospel ministry.
The highlight for me was not the talks: not because any of them were deficient, simply that they contained the same content as last year’s conference. The highlight for me, the encouragement for me, was the unity in Christ evidenced.
There were men and women, the young hipsters and a few of us oldies, Anglican evangelicals, Free Church folk, and church planters from various networks each of which has its own theological distinctive within the spectrum of evangelical theology. Even more striking was the diversity of ministry contexts. There were church planters aiming to work in middle class areas as well as those working within urban settings, council estates and ethnic communities. This was not a conference of mono-chrome evangelicals!
And the most striking (for me and for others with whom I spoke) was the racial diversity among us — none of which was planned, orchestrated or managed! In our plenary sessions, sure, the majority of us were white; at the same time, there was a significant number of black church planters and Korean gospel workers. In one seminar I attended it was stimulating to hear one black church planter speak of the need to ‘contextualise’ reformed/evangelical theology into the various black contexts. He expressed his desire with no trace of criticism and the other seminar attendees agreed with no trace of patronising guilt.
What I was impressed with by all of this was how, humanly speaking, none of this unity in diversity was contrived. Ultimately, I think (I chose to believe) it was a work of the Lord. He brought us together, under his word, for the gospel of Christ, for the welfare of the church in our country and all for his glory. Having the opportunity to witness this was one of those unexpected but awe-filled moments.