Two Conferences Coming Up In Brussels

This summer, Cornerstone International Church will be hosting two conferences:

1. VMI Brussels 2010

First off, Cornerstone will be hosting VMI (which is short for Visible Music Instructive). VMI exists to train musicians and worship leaders to serve within today’s church and the world. VMI will be specifically headed up by a team of gifted musicians and worship leaders from Visible School Music and Worship Arts College, which is based out of Memphis, TN, in America. In particular, this training time will provide hands-on, practical musical instruction on your instrument or voice, plus music theory, music band-ensemble training, and biblical-spiritual input. Musical emphases include vocal, percussion, bass, guitar and keyboard. Plus workshops will be offered in both worship leading and songwriting to help participants grow in these important areas as well.

VMI will take place Wednesday evening, 28 July, to Saturday evening, 31 July. The specific theme for this summer is God of This City. Click on the audio icon here to listen to the song by Chris Tomlin.

2. Fast Forward Brussels 2010

Secondly, Cornerstone will host Fast Forward. In brief, this is a time of equipping God’s people in ministry and leadership that they might serve Him in this generation. Many of us might enjoy the opportunity to take out a few years from our life to study and train in the Word, ministry and leadership. But, for most, that is not possible. Thus, we want to provide training opportunities for God’s people but in a compact time. We have the hope that this will serve God’s people in the 21st century.

Fast Forward will take place on Sunday evening, 1 August to Tuesday evening, 3 August. We will have a team of leaders from Lifelink International leading each of the seminars and speaking sessions. Our theme for 2010 is ‘According to the Pattern’. Jesus told us He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), but sometimes the church, the body of Christ, gets off track and builds according to a pattern that Jesus never had in mind. When it all comes down to it, we are called to build according to the pattern of what God is building Himself. We want the church to become what Jesus meant when He meant church.

Two Summer Conferences in Brussels

This summer, Cornerstone International Church will be hosting two conferences:

  1. VMI Brussels 2010
  2. Fast Forward Brussels 2010

First off, Cornerstone will be hosting VMI (which is short for Visible Music Instructive). VMI exists to train musicians and worship leaders to serve within today’s church and the world. VMI will be specifically headed up by a team of gifted musicians and worship leaders from Visible School Music and Worship Arts College, which is based out of Memphis, TN, in America. In particular, this training time will provide hands-on, practical musical instruction on your instrument or voice, plus music theory, music band-ensemble training, and biblical-spiritual input. Musical emphases include vocal, percussion, bass, guitar and keyboard. Plus workshops will be offered in both worship leading and songwriting to help participants grow in these important areas as well.

VMI will take place Wednesday evening, 28 July, to Saturday evening, 31 July. The specific theme for this summer is God of This City. Click on the audio icon here to listen to the song by Chris Tomlin.

Secondly, Cornerstone will host Fast Forward. In brief, this is a time of equipping God’s people in ministry and leadership that they might serve Him in this generation. Many of us might enjoy the opportunity to take out a few years from our life to study and train in the Word, ministry and leadership. But, for most, that is not possible. Thus, we want to provide training opportunities for God’s people but in a compact time. We have the hope that this will serve God’s people in the 21st century.

Fast Forward will take place on Sunday evening, 1 August to Tuesday evening, 3 August. We will have a team of leaders from Lifelink International leading each of the seminars and speaking sessions. Our theme for 2010 is ‘According to the Pattern’. Jesus told us He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), but sometimes the church, the body of Christ, gets off track and builds according to a pattern that Jesus never had in mind. When it all comes down to it, we are called to build according to the pattern of what God is building Himself. We want the church to become what Jesus meant when He meant church.

Conferences, Great; Relationships, What It’s About

This past weekend, a team of people from Cornerstone International headed over to the UK to join in with leaders from the various churches and ministries from the Lifelink International family. People from various nations joined with us, specifically from the UK, Belgium, US, India, China, Zambia, South Africa and Argentina.

There is no doubt of how great it is to be envisioned for God’s kingdom and hear about all that God is doing in our midst as a family of churches and ministries around the world. Though we are small in comparison, I am always reminded that Jesus simply started with twelve, and with that, the mustard seed of the kingdom of God has continued to grow throughout the centuries. So, I am humbled how God has chosen to use a smaller grouping of churches and ministries within Lifelink.

The teaching was excellent as various people (yes, even apostles and prophets, as we [healthily] believe they still exist) shared from the Word things that are relevant for leaders in their various local situations. A lot was focused around two things: 1) transition and 2) community.

We could argue the church is always in transition. We don’t forget where we’ve come from, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before (Hebrews 12:1). But we always recognise that the one who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) is also stirring new things in our midst to move forward in. And we must let go of that which must be let go and take up that which God has asked us to. Our eyes must stay fixed on what He is saying, what He is doing. This will bring much fruit to bear.

Not only that, but we must remember we are called to this together. There is no room for lone ranger ministries, nor the individualism that has ravaged the church in the past few decades. Of course, there is room for diversity and individual expression. No one would or should deny such a truth. But there is no room in the heart of God for individual-ism. Such has no place in the kingdom of God.

Why?

Because the Trinity has no room for such. Of course, the Father, Son and Spirit have their own unique roles within the Godhead. But they are continually at work together, relying on one another. This comes out in the words of Jesus very clearly:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry… 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. (Luke 4:1-2, 14)

Jesus was even excited at the prospect of sending the Spirit to continue His work after ascending back to His Father:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

It wasn’t solely about Him and His role as the divine Son, what He was going to do for humanity. He so wanted to share all things with the Father and the Spirit. What beauty, what humility! (Here are some other thoughts in the past.)

And that is what I appreciate about those with whom we work. Even though we believe God still gifts people as apostles and prophets, and of course in the other Ephesians 4 ministry roles (evangelists, shepherds and teachers), if anything, we believe God has called us together. We are so diverse in our giftings, but we see that as a plus. It’s not about a one-man show, bowing to the great leader and man of God. It’s about togetherness and relying on one another, room for each to express their unique giftings and functions. For, again, that is what the Trinity has been doing from the beginning.

This is what I value greatly about our time together. Yes, it is about good, solid teaching. It is about corporate worship in song. It is about praying for the nations, various situations and differing people. But, beyond that ‘spiritual’ stuff, we just enjoy conversations over coffee and tea, eating meals together, sharing a glass of wine together.

But, this is ‘spiritual’ stuff as well. Matter of fact, we can see the importance of food in the life of God’s people in the Scriptures – ‘And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts’ (Acts 2:46). The relational aspect stands as one of those top priorities.

I am thankful for this fellowship, the relationships and sharing of life that the Trinity has called us into. They do it well and, of course, we should only look to exemplify them in all that we do.

Therefore, my conclusion is – conferences are great, but relationships is what it’s all about.

Celebration 2009

Lifelink Int LogoThis past week, a few of us from Cornerstone International were able to join the Lifelink International churches for Celebration 2009 in Swansea, UK. Each summer, the churches of Lifelink gather in the UK for a long weekend of preaching, teaching seminars, worship, youth and kids meetings, food and lots of time together as friends and family.

This year was no different. The theme was Worship His Majesty. And despite the overly rainy weather (it’s Wales, what can you expect), we were looking forward with anticipation to be with the Lifelink family.

The messages in our main gatherings included:

  • Dave Latham from Liverpool speaking about the fire of God.
  • Guy Lister from Chester speaking about the worship due to our God.
  • Andrew Scotland from Rugby speaking about God inconveniencing His people.
  • Ian Rawley from Cambridge speaking about the praise that should come from the lips of God’s people.

Each message was followed with a time of response to the word, specifically looking to pray and speak prophetically into the lives of God’s people. Some of these times of ministry were also given to prayer for Spirit filling and healing. And why not? There should be no holding back when the covenant family of God gathers together.

The times of corporate worship were quite powerful being filled with song, celebration, dancing, bowing, stillness, Spirit-songs, and a whole lot more. But more importantly, we were grateful to know God’s presence in our midst, moving amongst us, speaking to us, changing our lives.

On the final morning together, we had the usual family service in which the youth led the time of corporate worship with each varying age group sharing a bit of what they had done during their time together. Even one of the youth shared about how he had been healed in his knee this week – swelling immediately leaving and full movement given back to his left knee. Amazing!!

But, even in the midst of all of these things, it was simply great to spend time with the various leaders and churches within Lifelink. It is a beautiful thing to share our lives together and hear about what is going on amongst our churches. I would not trade it for the world.

So, with it looking as if Celebration will be on hold for the summer of 2010, as the training base of the Lifelink churches shifts from Swansea to Rugby, we await to see when the next gathering will be for the family of churches. But, until then, there will be plenty to get on with and quite a few opportunities to gather together over the coming months.

Deeper:Life

This past weekend, my wife and I, along with four others from our local church in Brussels, had the opportunity to travel to the UK for a young adults conference.

For some, the word conference can be a very, very important word. It’s almost like Christianity could not exist without conferences. In some places, you’ve got conferences for pastors, for leadership in general, for young adults, for youth, for missions, for children’s workers, for greeters…well, I’ve actually yet to see one for greeters, but there might be such.

I am at a place in my life where I realise church, or the ekklesia, is not solely about our main meetings (as in Sunday mornings), nor chiefly about conferences. Church is about relationship – with Christ, the Head, and with the body of Christ. It’s about mirroring the relational nature of the Trinity. Therefore, church can be expressed in the home, over a meal, outside of the church building, with a few gathered together sharing life.

And I must be honest in confessing that I am glad church is not about meetings and conferences, or at least I don’t believe it should be about those things. Some people can cram in so many meetings and conferences that it can leave them disillusioned when coming back into ‘real life’ where there are no six-person (or more) worship teams, extended times of corporate worship, great preaching, with everyone being a Christian. Not to mention they can leave you completely exhausted.

Now, I must also confess that if God is really moving, by His Spirit, in the gatherings, then there might be a season in which we gather together more frequently. But I am not sure this can be planned for, as in the church that puts out on their sign: ‘Revival coming this Monday to Friday, 7.00 – 9.00pm.’ This probably refers to a more traditional sense of presenting the gospel in some public format and giving an invitation to ‘walk down the aisle’. But I’m not sure that is revival. God’s moving usual takes on a more spontaneous nature, though not negating we can prepare the way in prayer, and even fasting. Still, revival seems to mirror Christ’s coming – we know not the day nor hour. Nevertheless, I digress.

Yet, we must also recognise that meetings and conferences are not evil in and of themselves. Our local church gathers every Sunday, as your’s does probably as well. And the family of churches we are a part of do hold a few conferences during the year for fellowship, sharing life together, training, corporate pursuit of God in worship, etc. So, meetings and conferences can be a worthwhile time of the larger body gathering together for corporate vision and celebration. Thus, I don’t think it is worth throwing out such larger gatherings in and of themselves. We just have to guard against overdoing it with a zeal that is not coupled with wisdom.

So, the young adults of our churches put together a conference this past weekend, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we were able to have a group from our church head over to the UK for it. It was called Deeper:Life. Though, as usual, we were quite tired at the end of the weekend, probably highlighted by the fact of traveling over from Brussels, it only stood as a reminder of why I do enjoy when we gather together in a larger setting. The reason? It is very refreshing to meet up with friends from other nations with a common vision of pursuing Christ and His kingdom. That, for me, is the best about such gatherings.

No doubt, we had some great times of corporate worship in song, with quite a few sharing the heart of God in prophetic words. There was also some really good teaching and preaching from three different people, and even the food was quite good, which isn’t always expected at a larger conference centre. But, again, it was all worth it to have the opportunity of meeting up with those brothers and sisters that I have spent the last 10 years building up strong relationships with, these being people with a very similar heart for God and His kingdom rule. That is not the ‘icing on the cake’, rather that is the cornerstone for such an event.

So, while I am glad to be home to catch up on a little rest, I am so thankful for this past weekend at Deeper:Life. God was in our midst and we came out encouraged, strengthened and challenged. But more than anything, it was God’s people, His ekklesia, joining together in a shared time of conversation, worship and even good ol’ fun! And, after that, we can be ready to head back into ‘real life’.