Its been a great 4 days of hanging with the Forge tribe from all around Oz and even a few from overseas. Alan & Deb Hirsch made the trip back from the US for the event and it was great to see them again. We spent a couple of hours over lunch yesterday in their home strip of Acland St, St Kilda. When I am around the forge crew I am reminded again of how much I value those relationships.
This year’s festival was brilliantly organized by Kim & Maria Hammond and had a huge diversity of options for people seeking to learn in many different areas with workshops and electives in 5 different streams.
The general sessions were great value. Frosty led off with a stoing challenge to us to live out the truths we already know and to be people of action rather than content with talk. It was pretty classic ‘Mike’ as he pulled no punches and spoke boldly to all of us present.
Sally Morgenthaler was first up on Saturday morning and spoke about living out of our true identity and the importance of authenticity in mission and ministry. She did a great job and provoked us to think about how/where we may be living out the type of life we feel we are supposed to be living rather than actually being content with living as ourselves. I had the opportunity to have a long conversation with Sally over dinner and it was great to see the same person around the meal table as we did behind the lectern. She is living what she preaches.
That evening TSK was up and he was in great form. It was a mix of zany humour, great insights and genuine inspiration to live as the people of God. It was really good to have him back in Oz offering his insights on what God is doing all around the world, from the point of view of one who sees more than most. We had some time to reflect and laugh about our teenage fundy days spent at Maylands Baptist back in the early 80’s. How things have changed…
Sunday morning saw the festival joined by the congregation that normally meets in Life Expedition – a group of Asian young adults led by Tim Goh. One of the things that impressed me hugely over the weekend was the way the volunteers from the church served at the festival. These guys set up, cleaned up and did everything in between – and they did it with fantastic attitude. Hats off!
The keynote speaker for Sunday morning was Danielle Strickland, a Salvo leader from Canada, but now working in Oz. She is one of the most sensational communicators I have heard in a long time. She spoke with passion, insight and more than a touch of attitude. If you ever get the chance to hear this woman speak on living out God’s dream for the world then don’t miss it. In terms of ‘learning’ this session was my personal highlight, partly because of the personality of the speaker, but also because she re-ignited some embers in me that had grown a little dim. Maybe we’ll need to look at getting her over west to shake up the local crew.
Daz Gardner finished the weekend off with a challenge to actually make change happen – not to just hear more good stuff and then go back to business as usual. Daz was as raw and raucous as ever and his message was a great way to tie together the weekend.
As well as the opportunity to be challenged from the front by some great communicators, it was also incredibly valuable to simply be there with our Forge team and with people from all around the country who are seeking to express mission and church in ways that fit their context.
Its interesting reflecting on the take up of missional incarnational ideas around the place. It varies greatly from state to state and denomination to denomination. My observation this time around, is that more people are making the shift from thinking about missionary praxis to actually getting on with it. And more established churches are recognizing the need to adopt a missionary posture if they are to genuinely engage their communities.
I wonder where things will head in the next 10 years as more churches pick up on the missional incarnational approach, while others go harder at the established form. Let’s hope we all keep learning!