FIEC is showing its age
This year was David Shaw's first time at The Hub Conference. What did he think of it? Read on to find out.
The other day a group of people were trying to guess my age. It’s an interesting experience. First of all there’s a lot to consider: appearance, clothing, the greying of hair, behaviour. And then there are some judgments to make: Do I act my age? Do I dress my age? Are those grey hairs simply a sign of wisdom (as I like to think)?
As I look back on The Hub Conference 2015 two things strike me. One: how hard it is to guess the age of FIEC. And two: therein lie many of the encouragements.
Let me explain.
In many ways FIEC is very young. At The Hub there were 120 or so delegates, many of them in their twenties and thirties, exploring routes into paid gospel ministry and what it means to lead God’s people. It’s the same thing that many have observed at the Leaders’ Conference in recent years; FIEC is looking younger.
In the context of many denominations anticipating a crisis when an ageing clergy retire, this is essential and a sign of God’s kindness. Of course we need to set that against the massive need of our nation, where millions perish without the hope of the gospel and hundreds of communities lack a faithful outward-looking church. But nonetheless, the youthfulness of the conference feels like the start of something.
On the other hand FIEC is looking, well, old.
There was, truth be told, a lot of grey hair at The Hub Conference, and this too is a good thing. I can’t think of another conference where there is such interaction between the generations. And I can’t think of another issue for which interaction across the generations could be more important. For young men and women to hear from older men and women about the nature of ministry is absolutely essential; to talk and pray together about the pressures and fears, the delights and dilemmas.
For that reason is was great that every attendee could spend concentrated time and pray with someone more experienced in ministry. It’s also why it was great to see seminars being led by people with years of experience in ministering to women, growing leaders, organising their time and so on.
It was especially great to see Ray Evans taking three main sessions and exploring different aspects of Christian leadership. Ray’s wisdom and experience was evident throughout, but let me mention two striking elements:
- In his third talk he spent a good ten minutes talking about what forgiveness actually looks like in the local church, how vital it is, and how destructive it can be for a church to settle for anything less than biblical forgiveness. Remember – these were talks on leadership. I don’t think a younger man would have thought to spend any time on forgiveness, but this is the fruit of 30+ years of experience.
- Ray spoke about lessons he’d only learnt in the last few years. In other words (and I hope he won’t mind me saying this!) he had 30 years’ worth of mistakes to look back on and to help us learn from. Invaluable!
Those three talks by Ray are available online here. They would make a great series you could use to train your elders, deacons, or homegroup leaders. Or why not start a smallgroup for people you can imagine being homegroup leaders, deacons and elders in years to come and listen to these talks together?
So, as I spent time at The Hub Conference it was hard to work out the age of FIEC. It’s young, and it’s old, and I’m glad.
The Hub Conference 2016 will take place 15th-17th January. Bookings will open in September.