Bala ministers’ conference
Nearly 80 ministers came together for Bala 2010 – the annual ministers’ conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales.
This year’s main speaker was David Meredith, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland and minister of Smithton Free Church, Inverness. His addresses were on contemporary preaching, contemporary church and contemporary evangelism. He pleaded for a thorough biblical approach to the challenges we face as pastors and congregations.
While we love the past and its rich heritage we must respond to the present in a way that is relevant and sensible while contending for ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’.
Our preaching, church and evangelism must take into account the mission setting of the 21st century and answer its challenges with robust biblical preaching, teaching and evangelism. The open lives, homes and hearts of believers are the key strategies and there was a fresh appeal for open air ministry.
Dr Garry Williams, director of the John Owen Centre at the London Theological Seminary, gave two addresses on the doctrine of Christ as the God/man.
After setting the scene in Chalcedon’s Creed, we were taken to the bar of Scripture to see if these truths are biblical. The challenge was how to preach them with precision, humility and in a way that leads worshippers to appreciate the majesty of the two natures in one person of Christ. This was refreshing theological teaching with obvious application to our pastoral and preaching tasks.
‘Islam in Britain: challenges and opportunities’ was the title of Dr Patrick Sookhdeo’s comprehensive and well-documented address. A convert from Islam, and now director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and of the Barnabas Fund, Dr Sookhdeo brought a well informed personal perspective to his talk.
He examined the challenges from a world perspective and then noted specific concerns. The rise of nationalism, religious fundamentalism, ethnicity, Islamic Shariah law, deprivation of marginalised poor Christians, apostasy laws and an anti-evangelism attitude were all surveyed as challenges that affect us.
Secular humanism, along with threats to religious freedom where the church seems to be weak and apathetic, will also challenge us, as Muslims seek more protection and integration into UK society.
Dr Sookhdeo concluded with an overview of Nehemiah chapter 1, outlining the priorities and strategies that can arm us in a battle that is ultimately spiritual.
There were refreshing opportunities for fellowship, discussion and prayer, where intercession was made for our work and witness. Paul Gamston, the new pastor of South Craven Evangelical Church, in North Yorkshire, gave the closing address from 1 Samuel 7.
The encouragement to look to God when good plans are not God’s plans was brought out of the text, with helpful insight and careful pastoral application. We were encouraged to look to David’s God and to Christ as the foundation and fabric of our ministries.