New Word Alive 2013 at Pontin’s, Prestatyn, North Wales
Prison-block-like Pontins accommodation notwithstanding, a Welsh flatmate and I were warm and toasty in our little apartment in just-above-freezing spring temperatures, waiting for the evening celebration to be beamed through New Word Alive TV. Outside, one group of kids were cheering as “Tonight’s Going To Be A Good Night” boomed out from one of many white marquees.
Had a great time at New Word Alive 2013. A buffet of Bruce Ware on christological doctrine, Christopher Ash on the later chapters of the Gospel of John, Dan Strange on apologetics in the mornings (Sam Storms was moved up to Mike Reeves’ spot (notable quote from blur member of the audience:”Sam Storms? Who is he? Is he a superhero?”)) and loads more talks and seminars throughout the day, glorious singing, being able to chat and pray with random strangers from different countries and cultures. (It would be difficult, however, to say I agreed with all the speakers…)
As an old-ish friend said as we exchanged notes on the second day, NWA was not a place to hide from people – more than half my classmates from the School were there in various capacities, loads more people from Church, there were people I knew from Singapore (rebuke from a brother:”Pleased to see me? Don’t lie! I’ve tried contacting you for the last 6 months and you’ve never replied!”), and there was even a primary schoolmate whom I hadn’t seen since primary school!
Quite an intense few days of “work” as well, leading a group – getting up early to pray with the team, preparing Bible passages for sessions, cooking meals for people and getting to know group members more so as to serve them better,
chats while walking along Barkby Beach (not so as to have an appropriate setting for serious conversations but because it was nice to get out and smell the sea!), nightly Grill-A-Christian in Mandarin courtesy of a Chinese flatmate etc.
Can’t think of a better way to spend the Easter holiday week. Cheekily deviated from the set questions (with the blessings of the speaker) to force the group, kicking and protesting loudly, to really engage with the text of Scripture. And tried to get them to actually focus on Christ rather than merely talk piously about focusing in Christ (too tedious and boring, dahlings). Hopefully, didn’t make too much of a hash of things but I can trust, regardless, that the Word + Spirit dream team will do their work!
Am leery of the highs produced in the artificial environment of Christian camps and conferences (in that they are high energy, high excitement environments; not that they are inauthentic). Any self-improvement boot-camp might induce an apparent change in someone. So while I wanted to push group members as far as God demands in Scripture (that is, very very far indeed), I did not want to create any expectation of this conference being a life-altering experience (while not discounting that God might wish to work in an individual’s life in such a way!); rather, the hope was that through clear and faithful teaching of God’s word (at NWA and in their own churches and bible study groups), their minds and hearts would be changed by the Spirit to be more and more like God’s, and their lives would then inevitably reflect this.