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Conferences – ‘Authentic – inside and out’

December 2016 | by Simoney Kyriakou

This was the title of the 2016 London Women’s Convention, held at the Emmanuel Centre, London on Saturday 15 October.We took ourselves and some young ladies from Thornton Heath Evangelical Church’s groups: Impact (for teenagers) and Vibe (20s-30s).

I was encouraged to see the hall filled with hundreds of young women. Too often photographs taken at good Christian conferences comprise the older generation only, but here was a diverse mix of women from young teens upwards, eager to be challenged about the authenticity of their faith.

From 2:45pm until 8.00pm featured talks from Linda Allcock, of the newly formed Globe Church at Southbank, Naomi Dyer, Joanna Jackson, Naomi Skull and Rachel Holton from Farnham Baptist Church, Surrey, who did an excellent talk for the youth called ‘#NoFilter — in a virtual world’.

After an excellent period of worship, learning new versions of ‘How firm a foundation’ and ‘O love that will not let me go’, we read through the whole of Matthew 5-7, to focus our minds on the authentic Christ and less-than-authentic ways of the world.

Ms Allcock’s first talk on the theme ‘The secret of authenticity’ was on Christ exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. She said, ‘Hiding and hypocrisy is never a solution. Jesus exposes the truth of the heart and it shows how much we need Christ’.

She also talked on ‘cutting off our hands: it’s an extreme idea, but look at the cross. There are consequences to our actions. Therefore, if something is not okay in our lives, we must not hide it; we must cut it out. Hell is real. Consider the cross. Run to Christ and repent’.

Praise

We broke into our various groups; we went to the talk led by Rachel Holton, who used the world’s obsession with Instagram and photographic filters to lead us into an examination of our hearts and worldview, and what our outlook should be in Christ.

Our team-drawing of the self-righteous Pharisee taking a selfie while ‘praying’ caused a few giggles, but brought the message home to two of our teens. They commented, ‘This has really challenged me about the number of selfies I take and the filters I use to change my images’.

What is authentic about people’s praise? Nothing! We should, as Ms Holton said, be like the tax collector. ‘He knew he had a problem with sin, a problem only God could deal with. Jesus is showing us, if we are to stop being fakers, we need to come humbly to him, to be transformed by him and given new identities in Christ’.

Ms Allcock’s second talk was on our longing for approval, and how we should be looking not for the approval of others but of Christ. We should put the spotlight on the Father when we pray or give, not focus on ourselves. The model prayer Jesus gives in Matthew 6 shows we should honour God’s name above all. She encouraged us to ‘root out the things you are treasuring above God. It might sound radical. It is radical, but Jesus is radical’.

The conference was well worth attending, with good books to buy afterwards and good food for thought during the day.

Simoney Kyriakou

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