There can be few more important issues facing the church in Britain today than how to communicate the gospel effectively in our pleasure-mad, materialistic society, with its inbuilt suspicion of (and apathy towards) all ‘organised religion’.
That was the theme for the annual North of England conference for church leaders and key workers, held in Dewsbury on the first Friday evening and Saturday in March.
The theme of the conference was ‘Supporting work and witness in a secular society. The conference was a great tonic and challenge to the 100 or so men and women from independent churches across the north who attended.
Those present were well served by the key speaker, David Robertson from Dundee, pastor of St Peter’s Free Church and director of Solas Centre for Public Christianity. Solas is the Gaelic word for ‘light’.
Mr Robertson began by helpfully reminding us that the gospel of grace ‘turned upside down’ the multi-cultural Greco-Roman world of the first century, a world to whose degraded culture our society is sadly regressing at breakneck speed.
He then painted for us the key features of our depressing society, in which the state is increasingly seeing itself as having a kind of god-like authority and wisdom.
Saturday morning saw him speak on ‘Christianity and work in a secular world’. He showed the God-honouring value of all manner of occupations, encouraging those present to be consistent to their faith in the workplace.
He also suggested ways in which local church leaderships can support members in their daily work. In his final session, Mr Robertson spoke on ‘Christianity, youth media and community in the secular world’. All three addresses were stimulating, realistic, practical, and profoundly God focussed.
The conference also had stimulating small group Bible studies on work related themes, news from churches represented at the gathering, and lots of opportunity for personal fellowship and buying Christian books.
Those present seemed to enjoy and be helped by the conference. We hope to meet again (with lots of new faces) in Dewsbury next year on the same weekend, to hear Ray Evans from Bedford address us on ‘Facing the future as churches’.