Here are the workshops overviews for the 2017 conference (17-19 March 2017)
Workshop 1: Ministry of reconciliation Wendy Johnsen
This is the grand theme throughout Scripture – God works through people to bring them into relationship with him. People continually fail to understand this and strive rather to keep others out, putting ‘walls’ up, in the form of rules and notions of purity and exclusivity. God keeps reminding people in the OT that he’s more interested in how people take care of each other, ie social justice, than in the rituals of religion and, in the NT, Jesus radically teaches this through his altruism. How does the cultural context of those times contribute to our understanding of this topic? In the current context of inter-racial tensions worldwide, how is a ministry of reconciliation relevant?
We will examine the scriptural teaching and discuss its relevance for us today.
Workshop 2: Called to be Joe Warwick
This workshop will look at the beatitudes which are descriptions of what we are as saved people, not what we have to do in order to be saved.
The simple message of each will be considered in contrast to the teaching of the Pharisees of salvation by works and of the Law. We will see how these characteristics are the outworking of grace in our lives, and will discover that the blessings are not something to be given in the kingdom, but for the followers of Jesus to experience now.
Together, we will consider the deeply happy state of the saved Christian; what it means to be poor in spirit, sorry, clean, dependent, peaceful, merciful, disciplined, wanting, committed, and persecuted.
Workshop 3: Get out there Dan Parsons and Judith Norcross
We enjoy a wonderful hope, genuinely “Good News” that we should share passionately with everyone we meet. Yet few of us find it easy to preach and witness.
“Get out there” aims to share practical ideas that have worked outside more traditional Christadelphian models of preaching, focusing on methods to engage with the public. We will consider what skills we have as an individual or as an ecclesia that can help us to “get out there” in a way that works for us. Be prepared to share your own ideas and experiences so that every one of us can take something away that will help us grow in sharing our faith.
Workshop 4: The Christian response to homosexuality Anne & Pete Jeavons
Official statistics suggest that around 6% of the UK population are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Yet the profile that same-sex relationships have in the media is massive and the legal dimensions – at work and in the Church – are becoming more complex and challenging.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Then, how do we apply those Christian principles in the ecclesia, at work and with family and friends? Behind all the emotion, we as individuals need to come to an understanding which is Biblically-based, consistent, logical and loving, so that we are better equipped to deal with a range of different situations we may face in our lives.
Workshop 5: Samaritans, Palestinians, Coincidence? Eric Lowe
When looking at the Samaritans and their role in scripture and then the role of Palestinians today a number of challenging questions arise. This workshop sets the scene for both peoples and then poses the questions. Topics that come out include racism, extremism, our own actions and the lessons of ancient and recent history for us all today. The style will be interactive with some group activities to get everyone involved.
Workshop 6: Decision making from a Biblical perspective Stuart Walker
Every day we make decisions, some trivial, some important at work, at home and in church. However, there are recognised strategies for improving decision-making using a framework and a structured systematic approach.
However, if you find decision-making difficult or challenging then this workshop will help by discussing the process that you can use, reviewing how we can make better life decisions by applying the “Seven Scriptural Principles of Good Decision-making”, and examine lessons from Biblical examples.
Together we can share decisions we have made or are currently facing in a safe environment and review how God will work with us if we follow these seven scriptural principles.
Workshop 7: The power of the positive Jon Downes
We constantly assess and evaluate what happens around us and to us. This then defines how we see and experience the world. In addition, how we deal with and understand the past is an indicator of how we perceive the future. We are at our most productive for God when we are in a positive, forward looking state of mind. God knows this and has given us tools like forgiveness, prayer and hope to help us. This workshop will help you identify how you tend to view the world and offer practical Bible based tools blended with modern research for maintaining a positive, productive mindset.
Workshop 8: Styles, strategies and strengths Hazel McHaffie
How do you react when problems arise in the church? What’s your default coping strategy? Quoting Scripture? Telling everyone what to do? Hiding behind the ABs? Walking away? Leaving it up to God? In this highly interactive workshop we’ll be looking at various issues which beset society and our community today, identifying personal and collective strengths and weaknesses, and looking at ways to coordinate our efforts for the greater good of the whole church.
You can expect to feel challenged but in a safe environment, and leave more strongly committed to using your talents more effectively in the future.
HALF-DAY DAY WORKSHOPS MORNING
Workshop 9: Eat, pray, love Arne Roberts
Defining who or what a Christian is may be relatively easy, but explaining what that means in practice may be a little harder. What does ‘life in Christ’ actually entail? Through thoughtful discussion, analysis of Scripture and applied participation, this workshop will examine these three core elements of our spiritual lives. Building on this initial foundation we will also work out how these three things become more natural than forced and then arrive at a plan for putting them ‘front-and-centre’ in our daily routine. Eat Pray Love may be challenging, emotional, experiential; come prepared to share and contribute, as well as listen and learn!
Workshop 10: You’ve lost me Mike & Suzette Thompson
Is the church losing the next generation? Research by the Barna Group based in America reveals that more than half of all Christian teens and twenty-somethings leave active involvement in church and many more are disengaged. ‘You Lost Me’ exposes ways the Christian community has failed to equip young adults to live “in but not of” the world – to follow Christ in the midst of profound cultural change. We will summarise the study and show how it is relevant to our community, looking at some of the implications and practical suggestions on how we can engage our young people. We would like delegates to come along and share their experiences in their church with the younger generation and be prepared to think openly and laterally!
Workshop 11: Great message, shame about the messenger Phil and Karen Cox
Jesus engaged his listeners whenever he spoke with his vibrant and relevant message. But are we as a community or as individuals doing our best to communicate God’s message? Or are we stuck in a staid and sterile style of presentation that’s not engaging listeners? Although we cannot attain to his level of enthralling listeners, what can we do to our Bible hours, exhortations and Sunday School to ensure they stimulate and engage our contemporary audiences?
We will examine how we communicate, how listeners receive information and consider and share through discussion how we can best present, effectively communicate and keep the attention of our audience, whoever they are.
Workshop 12: Living with God in a godless world Andy Avery
Atheism is increasing and becoming more…’evangelical’. It’s sometimes really hard to have a faith in the face of such ‘logical’ arguments. At tough times in life, a faith foundation can be really shaken. In this workshop we’ll discuss some of the arguments we often see or hear and come to a better understanding of where our faith is and what the arguments mean. The intention is not to learn how to ‘convert’ an atheist, it is how to be able to coexist with people without a belief, form a mutual respect and be able to keep strong. We will cover subjects such as suffering, evolution, time, chance and fairy-tales.
HALF-DAY DAY WORKSHOPS AFTERNOON
Workshop 13: Flower power Gretchen White
When Jesus said “Consider the lilies of the field”, he was pointing out the glory of God as revealed in the floral creation. Today, we have a wonderful choice of flowers with which we can bring glory to God by decorating our meeting rooms, giving to others and enriching our homes. In addition, flower arranging can help to relieve the stress of today’s hectic world.
In a practical, hands-on workshop, we will learn the basic principles of flower arranging in two different designs, plus a fun design to teach to children. In addition, we will learn how to make our flowers last longer, and how to take these new skills and develop them further.
Workshop 14: Bringing Psalm 23 to life through art and poetry Philip & Kate Lawrence
Christianity is the religion of the Good Shepherd. We will seek to understand more clearly the deep and trusting relationship that is possible between ourselves and our Shepherd through art and poetry.
You will first summarise the main ideas of the Psalm and be introduced to some techniques used in art therapy. You will then use your creative skills with a range of art materials or poetry, explore its meaning for you and share your thoughts with the group.
We will conclude by thinking about the wonderful exhortation and comfort to be found with Jesus as our shepherd.
Workshop 15: Diversity, disability and difference Ruth Andrews
How do we read Biblical texts that appear to treat ‘disability’ in a negative manner? How do we understand Jesus’ attitude towards ‘different’ people? Do our churches fully reflect the diversity of people who make up our wider society?
In the first part of this workshop will be considering how disabled and deaf people are part of God’s plan and purpose – and how we as Christians should be reaching out to people who are seen as ‘different’.
The second part will explore practical ways in which we can make our churches more inclusive of people who are disabled and deaf. We will be thinking about how we can make our churches more accessible and places where everyone feels accepted for who they are. This will include learning some British Sign Language.
Workshop 16: A walk in God’s garden
This area is for those who would like to enjoy an afternoon of walking in the local countryside.
The walk will be led, about 4-5 miles in length and timed to fit in with the other Saturday afternoon sessions. Anyone able to maintain a moderate walking pace should be able to tackle this! – but the route would not be suitable for those with walking difficulties or unable to climb over stiles. If the weather is too wet to start a walk, then other arrangements will be made