Saturday, 4 September 2010

Engage 2010

Last month I went to the first weekend of the Engage conference in Katoomba. The main thrust of the conference is to encourage Christian in the work force, and I think this year they really nailed their goal. The format this year was a little different from the last two I have attended. They put on two short talks on the Friday night and not just one long one. I thought the Friday short talks was a great idea, especially since we had traveled from Canberra and a 40min talk may have been a little bit of a struggle.

On the Saturday night there was a panel discussion where you could tweet or text a question to the panel members. The panel discussion I thought was a but "meh" but others seemed to have liked it. It was helpful to see how people did live a real Christian life in "secular" jobs. There was an ex-member of parliament and someone who worked in a high pressure law firm as well as Steve Timms and Colin Buchanan. Colin was pretty much the comic relief on the panel.

The two speakers this year was Tim Blencowe and Steve Timms.

I should be upfront that I might be biased about Tim, as I did Beach Mission with him, but I thought Tim was excellent and that his tone and assumption of the audience was spot on. He shook up the idea of us doing good works and drew from Titus, 1 Timothy and 2 Corinthians to show that Christians are to do good works to all people. He did stress that its not our good works that save us, but it is because we have been saved that we are to do good works. He showed convincingly that the Christian life is about doing good works and attacked the idea that because we are sinful can't do anything good. It is true that not all we do is good, but every good work does come from faith, and that there is no false choice between doing "God's work" and doing "good work." Tim hammered out the idea that there are no three ways to do "good works". Instead he set a framework for doing good and told us to just get out and do it. Tim elevated our weekday work to have significances and drew a connection between Church on Sunday and work on Monday. He challenged me to work harder at my job and to see that my job does have significances outside of my immediate field. I do think it would be worth the $2 for his talks.

Steve Timms talked on 1 Peter and probably stuck more to a passage than Tim did. Steve showed how the Christian are not in with the in crowd- they are not the cool kids, and it is a worry when Christians try to gain some social status at the expense of their faith. Instead Christian's identity comes for the image for God and how they are a chosen group, prepared to do goods works in the world. Some of the way Christians do this is by working along side all people, not just the "important" and giving all people respect. Another way is by fleeing from sinful desires (not behavior, as the desire dictates the behavior). Steve also stressed that Christians are called to live in community with each other.

Some quick negatives: The weather was freezing; the talks to download are $2 each; they had way too much bottled water; the election wasn't decided on that weekend and my engage bag got a rip in it the first day I took it to work (it was caused from the corners of a bible, I now put books spine down in the bag).

Some quick positives: The conference had 10:30am starts; they had Steve Morrison playing Saturday night (and Colin Buchanan also got up for an amusing impromptu scat song); they sold tickets for next year with John Piper and it was a good time to hang out with friends.

My negatives are quite small and some are out of the organisers control. Pretty much the conference was great, and I possibly had the best "experience" compared to past Engage conferences I have attended. If I published this blog post before their second weekend I would have encourage everyone to go, but then again that was already sold out anyway.

Some more links:
- Acts 29 have three more talks by Tim on themes from his book Total Church
- My reviews of Engage 09 and Engage 08


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