The Connected conference is an annual gathering of church officers, workers and future leaders of independent fellowships in the North, taking place in Dewsbury Evangelical Church.
Apologetics was the theme, specifically engaging with the secular beliefs of modern society. We were well served by Dan Strange, our speaker for the day. Dan is director of Oak Hill Theological College and elder of East Finchley Baptist Church.
Starting from Peter’s exhortation of the believer to be ‘always prepared to give an answer’ (1 Peter 3:15), Dan talked through various texts which help us to give answers which are both faithful and effective.
He spoke with wisdom and humility, challenging and encouraging us with his infectious enthusiasm for making Christ known. He helpfully affirmed both God’s sovereignty in changing hearts as well as our responsibility to exhort others to convert. This, he said, can be done by addressing sceptics’ ‘real’ needs through their ‘felt’ needs.
The conference fosters fellowship and mutual encouragement. There was public sharing of news from northern churches, including from Cleckheaton, Wakefield, Bury, Ulverston, Haworth and Sheffield.
Around 130 people attended, close to capacity. This leaves the organisers (Graham Heaps, Luke Jenner and Michael Luhrmann, with indispensable help from Colin Mountain) with a headache.
Our challenge is to find a bigger but equally modern and cost-effective venue. Prayers to this end would be valued!
Next year, it is planned that Robert Jones from Southern Baptist College will speak on ‘Pursuing peace in the church’.