I'm back from Spring Harvest. We had an amazing time. God was doing so much in people's lives, it was a joy to be involved.
Linda and I covered the Evolution celebration in the evenings. It's for 18-25s, though there were a good few a bit younger and a lot older than that. Andy Flanagan led the worship - he was really excellent (check out his album Son for some of the most affecting worship music written in the past couple of years).
We've come back full of ideas about how we can bring a different way of doing things to our evening services. This links to stuff I was blogging recently about how we do teaching. This coming Sunday we're kicking off a series on tough issues interspersed with a look at Philippians. This week I'm going to do a workshop-style thing on how we make moral and ethical decisions.
What I found interesting about Evolution is that the teaching style was both directive - lots of things being said from the front - and discovery-focused - work in groups, reflective times by individuals encouraged to paint a picture, write a postcard home, bang a drum, etc.
The directive teaching was pretty black and white. There was very little 'this the way we see it, what do you think?' but the discovery stuff was committed to giving young people the space and resources to find out for themselves a shape or pattern of Christian spirituality that fits and works for them.
This seemed to me to be striking a right balance. There is a need for us to talk about what the Christian faith is all about. The problem with our sermons is that we often try to say too much - we want to communicate everything all at once - and we don't say it very well. People don't connect with sermons because there aren't handles for people to get hold of. It seems to me that what we did at Evolution (I use 'we' for a reason that will become evident in a moment) was provide good teaching and handles to help people appropriate and apply it themselves.
There was a third strand to this - and it's where we came in - that was praying with individuals about what they'd heard and what they were seeking to do with it. It seems to me that learning ought to happen in the context of prayer. As we wrestle with meaning and application, we ought to do so in the context of prayer.
Lots of lives were changed this week because there was directive teaching, discovery time and prayer in groups or with a member of the ministry team. It was wonderful to be part of it.