Equipping Leaders for Evangelism
Last year it was fully booked and this year we can accommodate 600 people at our annual Leaders’ Conference. It will take place from Monday 31 October to Thursday 3 November in Hemsby, Norfolk and bookings opened last week. John Stevens explains why our conference is the place for leaders to be equipped and encouraged in their ministry.
There’s no doubt that the greatest challenge facing evangelical churches in Britain today is sharing the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ with the vast majority of the population who do not know him. The best evidence suggests that less than 3% of the population are born-again believers, and that most churches are seeing only slow growth by conversions.
Of course there are many encouragements with individuals being wonderfully saved around the country, while some communities – for example Iranians – seem to be very open to the gospel at present.
But it’s all too easy to become discouraged by the scale of the task we face, and by the apathy that we so often encounter.
Equipped for ministry
So it is entirely appropriate that the main theme of our Leaders Conference this year is Engaging Evangelism because our goal is to be “growing gospel-driven churches”.
The aim of the Leaders Conference is to envision, equip and encourage church leaders for the work of the gospel, and to do this by offering the opportunity to meet with one another and to hear inspiring preaching and relevant seminars. We define “leaders” broadly, so the conference is open to pastors and their wives, elders, women’s workers, community workers and youth and children’s workers. Many churches come with their whole staff team, so that they can learn together.
This year we are delighted to welcome a team of highly experienced speakers to help us to address the challenges we face.
I am delighted that Ed Stetzer, the Executive Director of Lifeway Research, will be helping us to understand and minister the gospel in our post-Christian cultural context. Ed’s research has given him an awareness of what is happening around the world, and we will benefit greatly from his passion and expertise in church planting, church growth and church revitalisation. One of Ed’s repeated mantras is that even in the United States the average church has 150 members, so he will very much be in tune with the churches of FIEC.
We will also be delighted to welcome Jim Ramsay, who was formerly Head of the Department of Evangelism in Sydney and now works on the staff of FIEC Australia. His passion is to equip and enable ordinary congregation members to share the gospel with their friends and colleagues, and he will be sharing his lifetime of experience ensuring that churches have an evangelistic culture.
Listening to your feedback
In the New Year we asked previous delegates what they would most like in the programme, and the overwhelming demand was for help in reaching multi-cultural communities, and especially working-class communities. We are therefore very pleased that Mez McConnell from 20schemes will be sharing their wisdom on how to do gospel work in “hard places”, and a panel discussion will draw together leaders who are working in multi-cultural contexts.
Ian Shaw, the Director of the Langham Scholarship Programme in the UK, will be sharing lessons for today from the evangelistic ministry of C H Spurgeon in our historical lecture.
There will many other seminars to serve the delegates at the conference, including reaching men with the gospel, and a panel discussion on evangelism in smaller churches. Leslie Ramsay will be contributing to a dedicated seminar track for women’s workers and pastors’ wives while there will also be seminar provision for youth and children’s workers.
In the evenings Craig Dyer from Harper Church, Glasgow; John James from Crossway Church, Birmingham; and our Mission Director Andy Paterson will be preaching on the evangelistic ministry of Jesus from Luke’s Gospel, urging us to reflect the priorities and passions of Jesus in our own ministry.
Friendships old and new
So much of the benefit of the conference comes from the ability of the delegates to interact with each other during the free time and over meals together. Old friendships are enjoyed and new friendships made, and there is so much mutual encouragement from meeting with others with the same gospel and ecclesiological convictions, and who are ministering in a wide variety of contexts.
The conference venue in Hemsby has been significantly redeveloped and improved in the last year, with higher quality accommodation and social spaces. We are able to accommodate 600 delegates, the majority on a full-board basis.
Given the timely relevance of the conference theme this year, and the quality of the speakers who are coming, we anticipate being fully booked. The higher grade accommodation and full-board places are likely to go quickly, so I would encourage you to book early to avoid disappointment.
If we want to reach our nation for Christ, we need all our churches to be effective in evangelism. We want to help and encourage them to grow, plant and support the revitalisation of other churches so that more and more people will hear the gospel and come to share in the glorious salvation that Jesus has achieved by his death and resurrection.
If you would like to help your church to become or continue to be a growing gospel-driven church, then this could be the conference you can’t afford to miss in 2016. Click here for more information and to book online.