Your Local Conference
Our Pastors’ Network exists to provide Independent church leaders with accreditation for ministry, accountability in ministry and access to pastoral care. One of the ways we do that is through our programme of Pastors’ Network conferences. John Walley went to the recent one in Birmingham.
If you’re a pastor, even the pastor of a small church plant, you’ll always have too many things to do and you’ll feel you never have enough time to do them all properly. And if your family is like mine, then your wife is also balancing work, house, children and church responsibilities – and she’s often feeling overwhelmed.
So that means you might be tempted to ignore the invitation to a Pastors’ Network conference happening somewhere near you. Why should I fit that into my already overcrowded diary?
Well you could say because Richard Underwood is very persuasive while David Shaw is razor sharp in understanding and explaining contemporary issues. Or because there’s a delicious lunch on offer; and all of those things would be true.
Identity in Christ
Richard spoke movingly on the Lord Jesus from John 13, showing us how his confidence in his own identity as the beloved Son of God was the root and power for his ministry and challenging us, as pastors, to think through where we were rooting our identity.
David spoke with his usual warmth and clarity on the current battles around gender which, as he unpacked the underlying world view and ideology, turned out to have far broader pastoral applications for all sorts of issues relating to identity. With typical generosity, Monyhull Church provided a great lunch followed by some seriously amazing cakes.
But the real joy of the day and the reason to gladly give up a day of my week wasn’t any of those things but the chance to meet other pastors.
Meeting other leaders
The Pastors’ Network conference is really about connecting pastors and their wives with others in ministry across the diverse range of churches that you can find in FIEC from every region of Great Britain. It’s a joy to take a break for a day and spend time with people in ministry in very different churches and at very different stages; to hear and share in the sorrows of those going through hard times, to rejoice with those rejoicing and to encourage each other with the new and exciting things that God is doing among us.
There was a structure built into the day which allowed us to reflect on God’s word in small groups, and to spend extended time praying; not only for each other and for our churches, but also for the growth and spread of the gospel. That meant that as Richard spoke about issues of identity, the glory of who we are in the gospel and all that Jesus has done for us, we could help each other pray and apply those things into our own lives and ministries. In the busyness of church life, that’s a rare privilege.
This was a local conference, for pastors and their wives in local churches, there to help us to work through everyday issues and to do that in the context of a fellowship of other local pastors and wives of other churches. Perhaps you have to be the pastor of a local church to truly appreciate what a blessing that can be.
Do pray for the remaining Pastors’ Network conferences coming up, and if you haven’t taken up Richard’s invitation yet, make sure you sign up and don’t miss out.
There are ten more Pastors’ Network conferences this year after the first two in Liverpool and Birmingham. Find your nearest conference.