What did you expect?
More than 150 people gathered for The Hub Conference in Milton Keynes last weekend. It was a chance for people on the journey into gospel ministry to speak to experienced gospel workers, attend helpful seminars and listen to Bible-teaching from Paul Mallard. Danny Elliott was one of the delegates and he seemed to enjoy it!
Going to The Hub Conference for the first time, I hadn’t really thought about the question. So when I was asked, “What do you expect from this weekend?” I was a little unprepared.
I don’t mean that I’d found myself there unsuspectingly (unlike some poor hotel guests who, over breakfast one morning, were totally bemused to be asked, “So what’s your journey into ministry looking like?”), I’d just not fully processed what the weekend itself would involve.
I wasn’t expecting such a great venue. The Hub 2016 may well go down in history simply due to the acres of grounds, the brilliant food and the helpful staff. After the planned venue had to close due to plumbing problems, the FIEC team did an incredible job to seamlessly move into this brand new venue with only six hours’ notice.
I didn’t expect there to be so many hilarious moments. I won’t forget the sight of two FIEC Directors shaking uncontrollably with laughter on the front row as we were told about a church that was “ready for the 1950s if they ever come round again.” Nor did I expect to see a lovely women’s worker nearly knocked out by an over-enthusiastic pastor’s hand gestures on the Q&A panel!
I wasn’t expecting snow. Thankfully it didn’t hinder us too much; I didn’t expect to be home in time to catch the Liverpool game (perhaps it would have been better to be stuck on the M25).
I didn’t expect to bump into so many friends. A fellow pupil, as well as a teacher from my old school, a couple of people who I first met when I was only 11 and friends that I hadn’t seen for a while were there.
There was plenty that I didn’t expect. But here’s the biggest surprise: I didn’t expect to come away loving Jesus more, and with my heart changed.
Now I understand that admission might exclude me from any and all future ministry in itself! But considering going into full-time ministry is a huge thing, and that was my main focus when I arrived. And the weekend was great for that.
My wife and I had time and space together to think, chat and pray through a whole host of questions, which was wonderful.
The seminars were so helpful in giving practical advice. ‘Mapping the Journey’, ‘A Calling or a Career?’ and ‘Ministry, Marriage and Family’ were full of food for thought. I was reminded to be thankful for the incredible support we have; I was challenged by Spurgeon (and the Apostle Paul) on the idea of being compelled to preach; and I found great wisdom in the words of those talking about what family life in ministry looks like.
Our “two-to-two” with an experienced ministry couple was so helpful – getting a chance to talk to someone outside of our situation and being able to glean from their questions and answers was a highlight of the weekend.
Thinking about going into ministry became a secondary issue for me over the course of three days; I was just thrilled to be taught from God’s word, moved deeply and challenged relentlessly.
On the first night Paul Mallard, who gave the main Bible teaching, told us that a perfect reaction to a sermon should be, “Well, I didn’t think much of the preacher, but oh, what he said… how I love the Lord.” I hope he won’t mind me saying that I thought a lot of the preacher because he pointed me to Christ time and again and definitely made me think, “Oh! How I love the Lord.”
His three sessions were called ‘Loving God’, ‘Learning from Pain’ and ‘Longing for Holiness.’ A trailer for each sermon could read:
“God loves you more than you can imagine, and He wants you to know it.” [listen here]
“Don’t thank God for the pain, thank Him for the purpose: to cut out everything in you that doesn’t look like Jesus.” [listen here]
“Holiness isn’t de-humanizing, it’s re-humanizing; making us who we were meant to be.” [listen here]
I urge you to listen to them.
On Saturday morning Paul told us about an old farmer who, upon seeing Handel’s Messiah performed for the first time was moved to tears. When he heard the Hallelujah Chorus refrain “…and He shall reign forever and ever…” he cried out, “That’s my Saviour they’re singing about!”
That’s how I felt this weekend.
My heart was filled, moved, challenged and changed, and I cried out “That’s my Saviour they’re singing about!”
Perhaps you should come next year?
If you do, expect much more than I did.
The Hub Conference 2017 will take place 13-15 January 2017 at Horwood House, and the main speaker for the weekend will be Bill James.
Hear Danny, his wife, and six other delegates share their highlights of The Hub 2016 in the video below (or click here to watch it on YouTube).