Leadership Conference 2015 – Day Two Morning Session 2 (RAH) – Father Raniero Cantalamessa

Traditional hymns with the Royal Albert Hall organ for accompaniement, sets the scene for Father Raniero.

The joy of the gospel is with all of those who meet with Jesus Christ. We must re-embark on using this joy for the evangelisation of the world. At first, ‘repent and believe the gospel’ is not always received, at first, as good news. Repent means to ‘turn your mind around’ not to do penance. 

Be converted by believing – they are not different things but complementary. God has sent His son that we may receive adoption as sons. Salvation in many religions is through ascetic means, christianity does not tell them what they need to do to be saved but what God has done for them. Prior to the category of duty is the category of gift – grace. The gospel is a source of joy as it tells us of a God of grace, who gave his Son. The joy of the gospel is not an easy joy – it is especially for the poor and the needy. If it is good news, why is the christian faith perceived as one of pain and problem?  The perception is a negative one when it should be joy. We see the will of God as something that is displeasing or painful – God being the enemy of any joy or celebration. This is different to the image of God in the gospel and must be dealt with if we are to evangelise.

The Eastern Church is more positive whilst the western church is more negative. The theology and need of grace by Augustine and the western church has often been the church that has restricted grace. 

The secular western world has rejected christianity but we are beginning to see a momentous change, particularly the charismatic/pentecostal renewal across the world. It provides a different perception of the christian life, one of joy and celebration rather than pessimism. Joy in the Holy Spirit changes things as people are convicted of sin and move grace. Nobody has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit – as we yield to Him, the church lives and our actions show God. 

We have an opportunity to live in this new moment of grace. The greatest danger is from within, we need to demonstrate love (cf 1 Corinthians) with authentic love in Christ and living in the fruit of the Spirit. Holiness is vital. 

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus……..

Unity amongst Christians is vital, especially as there is the 500yr anniversary of the Reformation (in 2017) – the church and the world have changed since then and we need to once again, centre everything on the person of Jesus. We preach Christ crucified or we preach Christ as Lord must be our refrain. 

We are called to proclaim the good news of the gospel. 

A renewal of dialogue is required. Raniero shares honestly about the conflict of preserving theological position compared to the unity we share in Christ as his children. If we are one in Christ we need to talk again and recognise not just the visible church but the invisible church. Christian constituencies are being brought together again by the Spirit of God. Our unity is based in the person of Jesus Christ – not on dogma or practice. Steps to unity will be found when believers, despite their differences, meet together around the person of Jesus.

Leadership Conference 2015 – Day One Morning Session 2.1 (RAH) – Joyce Meyer 

After some inspiring worship, its time for Joyce Meyer to be interviewed by Nicky Gumbel

A gentle introduction to Joyce and a reminder of the call to church unity. Meyer describes her’dysfunctional’ upbringing when she faced both abuse and rejection. A neighbour took her to church but a recognition at the age of 9 that she was in need of a saviour. She committed her life but recognised that she needed someone to be an example to her and someone else to walk alongside on that faith journey. 

“If you live with someone who is dysfunctionl, do not let them steal your joy. What they need is stability”

As leaders, we should not be trying to give people what is not working for us. We need to be doing behind closed doors, what we are doing on the platform. If you take the word and apply it to your everyday life, if you do your best to honour what God is saying, He will show the way. If God decides to anoint someone for something, it is going to work whatever anyone else says or does. 

As Meyer is sharing her testimony to God’s faithfulness, it is very apparent that the journey of faith in leadership is a hard grind, demands graft and will be misunderstood, but with perseverance, you know that there is no other path to take.

The higher someones profile, the greater the criticism people will give. As leaders, criticism still hurts and leaves you with rejection. Initially, it is most painful. There is a need for us all to be patient with one another. We all have the same problems, we just put different titles on it. A lot of criticism is based on jealousy, people like to criticise success, not because of who you are, but because of what you have. Meyer has discovered that whatever the enemy has sought to take away, God has given it back more abundantly.

John 10:10 – Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives, there are many miserable Christians but we should be happy as we have the light of the world within us. Meyer had to learn that work is not identity, we can have rest and fun. I can’t do what God wants me to do unless I learn to trust Him to help me to do it. God is our teacher and will give us the life that Jesus wanted us to have. 

In Christian leadership, we tend to replace spending time with God with working with God. If you want to be successful, you must learn how to seek God first. Time in God’s presence, first, is vital. Our time with God is not foremost to get a sermon first but to sort self out first. Being in ministry can take a lot out of you. It is important that we are vulnerable with people and we learn to accept that we are all different and that God did this on purpose. You can’t make evryone be a light, you have to find the right spot for them for them to flourish. Even in ministry, we can be selfish. The greatest thing we need to learn in the church today is love – and it will cost you something, it takes time. 

Leadership Conference 2015 – Day One Morning Session 1 (RAH)

The conference opens with a wonderful recognition of its international flavour singing ‘The Splendour of the KIng’ in different languages before entering with modern thumping anthems, ‘Happy Day’ and ‘The Way’. The worship sets the tone – this conference is first and foremost about Jesus. 

The 2 sites join together on a dodgy livelink that re-affirms that leadership is secondary to recognising Jesus. Different nationalities, different denominations, different churchmanships – the body of Christ represented together. Expectation is high and it is so encouraging to know that the Alpha and HTB teams have been praying for every attendee by name. “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” is the verse chosen as a prophetic word for every individual present. “How we listen is as imortant as to how people speak” is the reminder from Nicky Gumbel as to how we approach the conference.

After sharing the peace, Nicky Gumbel is the first speaker and reminds us afresh of the power of unity from Psalm 133. Unity is not always easy and we need to work hard at unity – ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’ (ephesians). A fresh reminder for the need of humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance. Love binds it all together. Unity is not doctrinal, it is relational. We learn this from the trinity….relationship is critical and our relationship around Jesus will determine our success in evangelising the nations. 

‘What unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us’ – Father Cantalamessa

If we want to bring the truth about Jesus to people, we need to be united. There is hope for us all because Jesus has given us great hope – why are we wasting time fighting one another when we have this great message to share with the world. We must stop fighting and need to get out and share our message.

There is a need for disagreement but we must do this in the context of friendship and love – then when a decision is made, we must back the leaders decision. Unity is not unanimity or uniformity. Its ok to have different views, this is how we learn from one another. Unity and truth are complementary not in opposition to one another. Could you imagine what it would be like if we stopped fighting one another and started to defend one another? Even those that are different to us – unity comes to us from the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit fills us all. In a family, we do not exclude those that we disagree with, families can be diverse. We have just one Father. Illustration of a lion and springbocks – the lion pounces when 2 springbocks fight as their attention is divided. We need a new perspective of the world, we get this perspective by recognising that we are one body and looking at the problems in the world in a different way. 

What if we were to start afresh and make every effort to live in unity? Will we pray for it? Will we yearn for it?

As the talk concludes, Nicky and many in the hall seek God for forgiveness. A new beginning in the Church – Beautiful conclusion to the first session.