Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thoughts on New Wine

I've tried to allow my thoughts and feelings to settle down a little before reflecting. I think three days is probably enough.

If you feel safe and secure in your own faith and belief there isn't a lot of harm you can come to at New Wine. You can enjoy the singing worship and pick the bits out of the talks and presentations without having to subscribe to the view that the only, the ONLY, way to respond to God is to go down the front and get ministered to by someone who will pray for you to have more Holy Spirit. I tended to pray quietly for a few moments and then slink off. I do not join the ministry team because I don't think that is what I understand by ministry.

I am quite reserved as an English man. I value this about my culture. I can get excited but it is for special occasions. I enjoy the fact that we don't, by and large, shout when someone treads on our toe in a shop. On the contrary we are more likely to apologise assuming we put our foot somewhere stupid. I appreciate this. In days of everything-rage it tends to slow most of us down before hitting people over the head. I like rocking crowds in rock events; I hate hyped up rocking crowds in other events. It reminds me of Kinnock's famous 1992 error, 'I shouldn't have inhaled (the atmosphere).'

If you are more liberal than most evangelical Christians you will have to cope with regular statements that the Bible is simply a matter of believing it, with no help or criteria to separate the drama from the fiction from the letters from the gospel from the history from the legend. There are exceptions. Simon Ponsonby, fast becoming the theologian of the charismatic movement, knows his Greek and his salvation history but I still don't get the God he sells who would only give his people more if they asked for it.

The only prayer really worth praying (IMHO) is 'Lord I'm listening.' If you hear the voice of God, through his word, through other people or through circumstances, fancy beginning even to imagine that he would call people and not equip them until they asked. It would be a like an army officer, seeing his battered and bloodied men return from the front, saying, 'I wondered when you were going to ask me for weapons; they're over there.'

I wish there was a libfest with lively worship, although we'd probably not get over agreeing on the words of the songs. Maybe they should all be instrumentals and we'd simply clap or dance?

Still I loved Mike Fuller's presentations on the complete history of the church and then western philosophy in fifty minutes. You can download the PowerPoints for these from his website. I will try and get to hear his other 50 minute specials on the Bible and the world's religions, some day.

Other seminars fell into the trap of being lectures; 75 minute ones in some cases. David Ruis' Bible studies on James in Venue 2 suffered greatly from his asides (he called them rabbits). On the penultimate day someone gave him a model gun and someone else offered him a fluffy fox. He would still not be distracted from his distractions. He faced an entire audience of 2000 people primally-screaming 'teach us'. Never came close. Bummer.

Ellie Mumford's love for Jesus shone forth. John Wright's deliberate and sensitive MCing of Venue 2 was a joy. Nick Page was a scream, with content. Baroness Caroline Cox's deserved standing ovation for her unique and lifelong commitment to the world's poor should not have been overshadowed by Charlie Cleverley's straining to get us to lament corporately and produce waves of tears. Again I slinked away to pray quietly.

The great thing about all this is that if you go with your church group you can talk through these things moment by moment and we did just that.

I don't think I will ever find a Christian festival at which I am not a piece of grit. I think it's the hand that's been dealt me. Back next year? You bet.


Dave said...

Thanks Steve. I've never been but perhaps I should do another year. I like the sound of being able to wander off in a sceptical fashion if things get too much.

Phil G said...

"Libfest" genius!

Anonymous said...

There's always Greenbelt (

Helen Louise said...

Oh I was going to say Greenbelt!

Last year they had Beer and Hymns in the Beertent, which was... singing hymns. And drinking beer. In a tent. I imagine that would classify as worship for some at least :)

I have mixed feelings about festivals. I've been to Detling Bible Camp, Soul Survivor and Faith Camp, and though I've felt like I had some wonderful insights, I also have noticed that awful let down when I got home... I've got rather annoyed with the idea that I have to go to camp to find God.

Whereas I like Greenbelt, I think because when I went last year I felt I could be honest about how I felt about God without having anyone attempt to work miracles so that I left with a post-Charismatic glow.

Anonymous said...

O Steve you are a man after my own heart. I thought I was alone and even worried I wasn't spiritual enough when I have slunk off when being asked to cry out to the Lord etc. etc. Nice to know there's lots of us people around! I have always enjoyed Spring Harvest - maybe you should try that as well? Off to Soul Survivor on Saturday, you should try that?! Enjoyed your seminar notes. Thanks.

Debbie K

Cosmo said...

Found your blog through 'Cartoon Church'.

Your expressions of questioning aspects of (Evangelical/Charismatic) faith obviously resonate with many people - myself included.

I'll enjoy exploring your blog in more detail.


Raspberry Rabbit said...

I think you're spot on. New Wine (or up here in Scotland: Clan Gathering) is exactly the place you wanna be for the simple reason that a number of the people who are going to wander into our churches - relatively well-heeled people in their 30s and 40s - have already taken some of the language and theology (!) of the movement on board. I find it incredibly difficult to make a case for the catholic faith to such folks. It's much easier simply to dismiss them. I need to bone up on my apologetics!

Mike Peatman said...

Our church takes its own beer tent to New Wine North, where we deconstruct the bits we didn't agree with until the curfew.

Mike Peatman said...

Also starting to blog my own thoughts on NW